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This is a page providing background in a specific field of expertise

Security is the degree or act of protection of persons or objects against is the opposite of::risk stemming from the threat type reduces::human intent.

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.

Crime categorisation

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.

The following classes of offences are used, or have been used, as legal terms of art:

  • Offence against the person[1]
  • Violent offence[2]
  • Sexual offence[2]
  • Offence against property[1]

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[3]. The crimes in this database concern the following six categories:

  • Homicide[4],
  • Violent crime[5]
  • Robbery[6],
  • Domestic burglary[7]
  • Vehicle theft[8],
  • Drug trafficking[9]

The US statics, recorded by the Criminal Justice Information Services, a subdivision of the FBI, drill down to a much greater level of detail[10], but at the highest level of subdivision only

  • Violent crime and
  • Property crime

are discriminated.

The UK crime statistics, recorded in the annual report 'Crime in England and Wales'[11], uses still another categorisation of crimes, the highest subdivision of which is:

  • Property crime
  • Drug offences
  • Other miscellaneous offences

Occurence of crime

Crimetype statistics in the EU

An indication of the relative size of crime types recorded in the eurostat database and their development through the years is given in the figure to the right.[12]. In this figure, we can discern the large differences in rate of occurance between faily commonplace crimes, like vehicle theft or violence and more extreme crimes, like homocide.

Crimetype statistics in England and Wales

As an illustration of the variability in the way and level of detail crimes are recorded in the various member states, the crime statistics of England and Wales of the year 2010-2011[13] are presented in the figure to the right.

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

  1. it rests on commonly acquired values. Those values can be material (capital, infrastructure, utilities, etc.) or immaterial (security culture, sense of community, etc.)
  2. it is commonly produced. This includes public-private partnerships as well as citizen participation and ownership (see civic culture);
  3. nobody should be a priori exempt from its consumption.

It is therefore important to reconcile the idea of security with that of community.[14] This can be done, for example, by including the concept of security culture into concepts for urban planning.

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.[15] 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.[16]

Footnotes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 For example, by the wikipedia:Visiting Forces Act 1952
  2. 2.0 2.1 For example, by section 31(1) of the wikipedia:Criminal Justice Act 1991, and by the wikipedia:Criminal Justice Act 2003
  4. Definition: This is defined as intentional killing of a person, including murder, manslaughter, euthanasia and infanticide. Causing death by dangerous driving is excluded, as are abortion and help with suicide. Attempted (uncompleted) homicide is also excluded. The counting unit for homicide is normally the victim (rather than the case).
  5. This includes violence against the person (such as physical assault), robbery (stealing by force or by threat of force), and sexual offences (including rape and sexual assault).
  6. Robbery is a sub-set of violent crime. It is defined as stealing from a person with force or threat of force, including muggings (bag-snatching) and theft with violence. Pick-pocketing, extortion and blackmailing are generally not included.
  7. Domestic burglary is defined as gaining access to a dwelling by the use of force to steal goods.
  8. Motor vehicles include all land vehicles with an engine that run on the road which are used to carry people (including cars, motor cycles, buses, lorries, construction and agricultural vehicles, etc.).
  9. Definition:This is defined as the illegal possession, cultivation, production, supplying, transportation, importing, exporting, financing etc. of drug operations which are not solely in connection with personal use.
  12. Derived from Eurostat crime statistics database "Crim_gen"
  14. I. Loader/N. Walker: Civilizing Security. Cambridge et al.: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  15. 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.
  16. G. Hughes: The Politics of Crime and Community. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007.