Security in the urban environment
Security concerns harm done by persons by wilful action. As these actions are generally prohibited by law, these actions constitute crimes. Security threats can therefore be classified by crime type.
The following classes of offences are used, or have been used, as legal terms of art:
An exhausite listing of all crime types distinguished in the various countries of Europe would not be useful, as this would encompass local regulations and crimes not relevant in an urban context. This is why we developed the categorisation of Security issues, a listing of the crimes that are of prime concern to the urban planner.
There is no uniform categorisation of crime used all over Europe. Rather, each country uses its own system to classify and record crime, but at a very generic level, the collected statistics are reported to a central European database, called eurostat yearly. The crimes in this database are subdivided into:
- Violent crime
- Domestic burglary
- Vehicle theft
- Drug trafficking
The US statics, recorded by the Criminal Justice Information Services, a subdivision of the FBI, drill down to a much greater level of detail, but use the highest level subdivision of 'violent crime' and 'property crime'.
The UK crime statistics, recorded in the annual report 'Crime in England and Wales', uses still another categorisation of crimes, the highest subdivision of which is:
- Property crime
- Drug offences
- Other miscellaneous offences
Occurence of crime
An indication of the relative size of these crime types and their development through the years is given in the figure .
Security as a public good
From the political and public administration point of view, security is often conceived of as a public good. This means in particular that
- it rests on commonly acquired values. Those values can be material (capital, infrastructure, utilities, etc.) or immaterial (security culture, sense of community, etc.)
- it is commonly produced. This includes public-private partnerships as well as citizen participation and ownership (see civic culture);
- nobody should be a priori exempt from its consumption.
Critics have reprimanded any "clubbing of private security", which in their view contributes to the deconstruction of security as a public good, to the benefit of a short-sighted approach of mere physical risk reduction. This includes scepticism of approaches to urban planning such as the "designing out" approach, as well as any production of security by use of exclusionary practices.
Footnotes and references
- For example, by the Visiting Forces Act 1952
- For example, by section 31(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, and by the Criminal Justice Act 2003
- Derived from Eurostat crime statistics database "Crim_gen"
- I. Loader/N. Walker: Civilizing Security. Cambridge et al.: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
- T. Hope: Crime victimisation and inequality in risk society. In: R. Matthews/J. Pitts: Crime, Disorder and Community Safety. A New Agenda? London/New York: Routledge, 2001, p. 216.
- G. Hughes: The Politics of Crime and Community. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007.