Does Green Space Make for Safer Cities?

Does Green Space Make for Safer Cities?

New research from Philadelphia suggests there may be a negative relationship between green space and violent crime.

Maintaining urban vegetation within urban centres has become an important aspect of environmental sustainability. But could these urban parks and green spaces also come with the added benefit of deterring crime?

Green space = safe space?

A recent study from Temple University looked at socioeconomic data, crime rates, and vegetation patterns as analyzed from satellite images. Researchers at the university identified a possible relationship between well-maintained vegetation and reduced rates of crime in Philadelphia—specifically violent crimes such as aggravated assault, robbery, and burglary.

Previously, it was believed that high levels of vegetation within cities aided criminals, as it concealed the crimes themselves and also aided in escape. Contrary to this, the study suggests that the presence of well-maintained greenery, in the form of grass, trees, and shrubs, encourages social interaction and community supervision within public spaces. Additionally, vegetated landscapes can have a calming effect on people, reducing psychological precursors for violent crime.

Green benefits across the board

Researchers offer the results from their study to city planners to use in their crime prevention strategies. Maintaining green spaces within cities may offer a number of increased benefits that also include aesthetic and environmental improvements, which are growing issues in modern societies. Researchers add that increased green space can also help reduce storm water runoff and improve quality of life.

Be sure to check out our April issue of alive, which features articles on permaculture and nonprofit urban farming!

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