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Community Safety

Everybody wants to live in a place where they feel safe, though crime and the fear of crime are still significant concerns for many people.

Fear of crime has become a major issue of public interest, the problem detracts people from the quality of life, and can adversely affect social and economic well-being.

The fear of crime can often fail to distinguish between a perception of overall risk, fear of personal victimisation, concern about crime as a public policy issue, and anxiety about life in general. Fear of crime can be very complex, in that some people may be afraid of particular types of crime, but not of other kinds of offence. Then, some individuals may be fearful of crime in the home, but not in public.

A higher crime rate in the community can also affect the feeling of security people deserve in their home and can affect property value. Unfortunately, no neighbourhood is completely immune to crime.

Perceptions of safety are impacted by different elements during daylight when compared to night hours.  During daytime, people are more likely to note poor maintenance, graffiti, etc. as making them feel unsafe.

Safe communities are places that we all want to live in, so what can be done to reduce the fear of crime and address these problems with community safety?

Firstly, community safety means dealing with the fear of crime and perceptions of safety. Community safety needs to a holistic approach where attention is focused on reducing and preventing crime as well as advocating for social and economic change to aid in addressing the root causes of crime and anti-social behaviour and therefore prevent it from reoccurring.

A safe community is a healthy community; it is active and a vibrant place where people go about their lives with confidence, and where public areas are filled with activity and community life.

The presence of people and activities across neighbourhoods can help play a vital role in reducing criminal or anti-social behaviour. Schemes such as Neighbourhood Watch, Street Watch, and various environmental enhancement schemes can deter crime and help people to feel safe. The way communities educate, involve and communicate issues about crime are also an important and efficient way in its prevention.

By working in partnership with local authorities and the police, communities can significantly reduce crime, drug and anti-social behaviour; while making their communities a nicer place to live for everyone.

For an effective strategy, it requires a thorough understanding of a local crime problem, where and when it occurs, who is committing it and who is affected by it.

Communities can reduce crime, drug-related activity and fear of crime through improving and enhancing the local environments through proper design and effective use of the built environment.

Applying first and second generation crime prevention through environmental design (also referred to as CPTED) principles to the way we plan, design, and manage our built environment will increase community usage, improve perceptions of public places, achieve connection and integration of streets and public places, and reduce the incidence of injury and opportunities for crime and antisocial behaviour.

CPTED is based on the recognition that design and use of the environment directly affect human behaviour.

Improving or enhancing of the environment could include erecting and maintaining better outdoor lighting, installing and enforcing traffic control signs and lights, closing or limiting access to streets to avoid through traffic, building fences, cleaning up bushes and shrubbery in parks and other public places, installing or repairing sidewalks, and removing abandoned vehicles. CPTED principles can be applied to any built environment or facility. For example, parks, toilet blocks, public areas, shopping centres, car parks and even residential dwellings.

Implementing CPTED principles will not always eliminate crime, but it is one of many different techniques that communities can use in a holistic approach to crime prevention.

Crucial to the success of CPTED, is the community taking ‘ownership’ of public spaces and feeling empowered to respond to situations in a way that will enhance the safety and security of the community.

Designed well, the built environment improves the development and wellbeing of individuals, and supports healthier and happier communities. Feeling safe and confident when out in public helps us to stay mobile and makes it easier to enjoy recreational activities and community life. By engaging residents and community users in the planning and design of our built environment, communities can create places and spaces in their neighbourhoods that are engaging, fun, safe and accessible.

Reducing the opportunity to commit crime through the design of built environments is an important aspect of building safer communities. This approach focuses on the situation as opposed to the individual, by making it more difficult, riskier and less profitable to commit crime.

Having an active safety camera program in place provides a broad range of benefits and cost savings to the community through:

  • The prevention and reduction of crime and disorder
  • Detection of crime and the identification of offenders
  • Effective prosecution of offenders by providing evidence
  • Increased positive perceptions of safety
  • Increased pride and ownership of public spaces

No matter what the crime related project the community decides to tackle, it is important that communities should strive to create positive perceptions of safety to assist residents to live confidently and enhance community life and well-being.

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