Urban vegetation deters crime in Philadelphia

Mar 25, 2013

Contrary to convention, vegetation, when well-maintained, can lower the rates of certain types of crime, such as aggravated assault, robbery and burglary, in cities, according to a Temple University study, "Does vegetation encourage or suppress urban crime? Evidence from Philadelphia, PA," published in the journal, Landscape and Urban Planning.

"There is a longstanding principle, particularly in urban planning, that you don't want a high level of vegetation, because it abets crime by either shielding the criminal activity or allowing the criminal to escape," said Jeremy Mennis, associate professor of geography and urban studies at Temple. "Well-maintained greenery, however, can have a suppressive effect on crime."

After establishing controls for other key socioeconomic factors related to crime, such as poverty, and population density, Mennis, along with environmental studies major Mary Wolfe, examined socioeconomic, crime and vegetation data, the latter from .

They found that the presence of grass, trees and shrubs is associated with lower crime rates in Philadelphia, particularly for robberies and assaults.

The authors surmise this deterrent effect is rooted in the fact that maintained greenery encourages and community supervision of public spaces, as well the calming effect that vegetated landscapes may impart, thus reducing psychological precursors to violent acts. They offer their findings and related work as evidence for to use when designing crime prevention strategies, especially important in an age when sustainability is valued.

Mennis said rather than decreasing vegetation as a crime deterrent, their study provides evidence that cities should be exploring increasing maintained green spaces.

"Increasing vegetation, supporting sustainability—they are a nice complement to so many city initiatives beyond increasing aesthetics and improving the environment," he said.

"Reducing stormwater runoff, improving quality of life, reducing crime—all of these objectives are furthered by increasing well-managed vegetation within the city."

Explore further: Personalized advertising attracts more attention, makes the contents of ads easier to remember

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Foreclosure crisis and metropolitan crime rates

Aug 17, 2012

The housing foreclosure crisis has been blamed for widespread economic and social problems in the United States, including reduced property values, depressed consumer spending and a decline in government services. Some observers ...

Medical marijuana outlets not linked to crime

Jun 06, 2012

Despite some concerns to the contrary, neighborhoods with medical marijuana dispensaries may not have higher crime rates than other neighborhoods—at least in one California city.

Some city trees may discourage 'shady' behavior

Nov 01, 2010

Along with energy conservation and storm-water reduction, scientists may soon be adding crime-fighting to the list of benefits that urban trees provide. Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest ...

Recommended for you

Why are UK teenagers skipping school?

Dec 18, 2014

Analysis of the results of a large-scale survey reveals the extent of truancy in English secondary schools and sheds light on the mental health of the country's teens.

Fewer lectures, more group work

Dec 18, 2014

Professor Cees van der Vleuten from Maastricht University is a Visiting Professor at Wits University who believes that learning should be student centred.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Argiod
1 / 5 (2) Mar 25, 2013
They're making it increasingly difficult to get away when they come to enslave us all... Mwahhhaahaaa
dan42day
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 25, 2013
The authors surmise this deterrent effect is rooted in the fact that maintained greenery..., as well the calming effect that vegetated landscapes may impart, thus reducing psychological precursors to violent acts.


So, I haven't slept in days and I'm out of meth. I need to rob somebody, who? There's someone over by the shrubbery! But it looks so green and peaceful over there. It wouldn't seem right to bash his head in and grab his wallet in such a nice parklike setting. Maybe I'll just go home and jerk off and try to get some sleep.

Yup, I'll bet that happens every day.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.