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Changing some aspects of the built environment can reduce the fear of crime

Lorenc T, Petticrew M, Whitehead M, et al.  Environmental interventions to reduce fear of crime: Systematic review of effectiveness  BMC Systematic Reviews. 2013;2(30):1-10.

Review question

•    What is the effectiveness of built-environment interventions in reducing the fear of crime?


      Fear of crime is associated with negative health and well-being outcomes. Both crime and the fear of crime may be influenced by factors in the built environment.

      Thus, interventions involving changes to the built environment may be a promising way to address fear of crime and its broader impacts on health and well-being.

      This systematic review examined the effectiveness of built-environment interventions in reducing the fear of crime.

How the review was done

      The authors searched 18 databases in 2010 to identify relevant literature for inclusion in the systematic review.

      Studies of environmental interventions which reported a fear of crime outcomes and used any prospective evaluation design were included.

      All sources were searched without date or language restrictions. Terms used in the search included fear of crime, crime, antisocial behaviour, and factors and interventions in the built environment. A total of 47 studies were included in the review.

      This systematic review was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme in the United Kingdom.

What the researchers found

      Seven types of interventions were identified: 1) home-security improvements; 2) installation or improvement of street lighting; 3) installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems; 4) multi-component interventions for crime prevention; 5) housing improvement and relocation; 6) area-based regeneration initiatives; and 7) small-scale environmental improvements in public areas.

      Overall, the evidence indicates that home-security improvements in a range of different contexts may be promising for reducing fear of crime while the evidence regarding street lighting is rather mixed. The evidence tends to show that CCTV is not effective in reducing fear of crime. The findings on multi-component environmental crime reduction programs are mixed and do not show strong evidence of effectiveness in reducing fear of crime.

      The findings on housing are very mixed, although there are some positive findings from reasonably robust studies. For area-based regeneration initiatives, there was found to be no clear trend in fear outcomes. In the two studies that examined small-scale environmental improvements in public areas, significant improvements in at least some fear of crime outcomes were found.


      The findings of this review indicate that some interventions may have the potential to reduce fear of crime, although in no case is the evidence conclusive. The most promising categories of intervention appear to be home-security improvements and general environmental improvements.


Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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