Manipulating Permeability as a Process for Controlling Crime: Balancing Security and Sustainability in Local Contexts
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In response to the sustainability agenda, planning policy in the UK, USA and Australia has shifted to promote compact, high-density, mixed-used residential developments in walkable and permeable street networks close to public transport (Commonwealth of Australia, 1995; DETR, 1998; American Planning Association, 2007). This is to encourage walking and the use of public transport and to reduce car-use, energy use, pollution, congestion and urban sprawl. However, although permeability is assumed to represent a positive built environment feature which reduces crime by promoting more "eyes on the street" (Jacobs, 1961), a significant body of research in the field of environmental criminology challenges this assumptions. This paper reviews the theories and evidence associated with permeability and crime.Pedestrian access ways (PAWs) are often associated with crime and this paper discusses research which was directed at providing practical guidance to local governments on how they could better manage existing PAWs in Western Australia (WA). A morphological analysis of existing PAWs was undertaken which analysed the purposes, roles, functionality, users and dynamics of PAWs in a variety of different settings. In addition to crime (which had commonly be used as an excuse to close PAWs), the research considered issues such as amenity, walkability, equity and sustainability. A suite of five tools for assessing and reducing crime risk were developed, which attempt to balance security and sustainability issues. Contrary to assumptions, most PAWs were not subject to high levels of crime and many were vital to the community. Intriguingly, findings indicated that neighbourhood permeability can potentially be manipulated (via the management, closure or construction of new PAWs) to achieve the desired outcomes of reducing crime and of enhancing walkability, liveability and ultimately, the sustainability and well-being of communities.
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