Cities are places of social interaction. Some social interactions – such as being a victim of crime – are unpleasant experiences. We live in a world in which security concerns have become an integral part of our daily thoughts, putting in check one of the basic elements of cities’ virtues ─ their liveability. Fences, padlocks, dogs, guards, security electronic devices, hermetic shopping malls or gated communities are just part of the commodified security urban landscape.
The objective of this book is to provide a theoretical and empirical discussion of security issues in the urban context. This is important since we cannot plan cities that are socially sustainable without taking security into account. Although there is no such thing as a place free of crime, a sustainable city should aim at being free from the risk (or fear) of crime, where a feeling of security underpins a wider sense of place attachment and social cohesion. The fact is that the risk of being a victim of crime is not equally or randomly distributed over space. How does the city’s urban fabric relate to crime and fear, and how is that fabric affected by crime and fear? Does the urban environment affect one’s decision to commit an offence? Is there a victimisation-related inequality within cities? How do crime and fear interrelate to inequality and segregation in cities of developing countries? What are the challenges to planning cities which are both safe and sustainable? This book searches for answers to these questions in the nature of the city, particularly in the social interactions that take place in urban space distinctively guided by different land uses and people’s activities. In other words, the book deals with the urban fabric of crime and fear.
The novelty of the book is to place security on the urban scale by (1) showing links between urban structure, and crime and fear, (2) illustrating how different disciplines deal with urban vulnerability to (and fear of) crime (3) including concrete examples of issues and challenges found in European and North American cities, and, without being too extensive, also in cities of the Global South.
Finally, and importantly, this book will be entirely unique. Simply put: there is no other book like it. Books about similar issues may present a general perspective of security (Dodds and Pippard, 2005, UNHS, 2007) or often deal with specific themes, such as perceived safety (e.g., Van den Berg, 2006), crime geography (e.g., Hirschfield and Bowers, 2001) or about practical issues of crime prevention by urban design (e.g., Brennan and Zelinka, 2001). These issues might be relevant only to a specific area (e.g., Atkinson, 2001).
Our goal in creating this book is to take advantage of the expanding field of urban criminology and of the growing number of professionals interested in security in the urban context. We will accomplish this by providing a fundamental book that will act as a starting point for those carrying out or interested in research on urban criminology, urban planning, urban geography and urban design. We believe our book will fill a growing niche and meet the demand of an expanding discipline for years to come.
As we are sure you are aware, the quality of book relies heavily upon both the editor and the contributors. Given our passion for this topic, and our sincere desire to fill the current void and to create a quality product, we are very carefully selecting the contributors. Many will be leading scholars in their particular area of work. For example, those who have already provided or agreed to provide a chapter include Bill Hillier, Nick Tilley, Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Per Olof Wikström, Alba Zaluar, Robert Haining, and others. To further ensure quality and to make sure the edited volume is not derivative, each of the chapters in the book will represent original scholarship prepared specifically for this project. These internationally renowned researchers will be looking at a single theme but from different perspectives (e.g., architecture, urban geography, criminology, sociology) which will make the book potentially useful to a wide group of professionals and practitioners interested in urban security issues, such as urban planners, criminologists, architects, geographers as well as those working directly with security interventions.
Springer Netherlands, 2012.