Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Author: White, Garland F.
This book provides an examination of the major criminological perspectives on the presence of crime and disorder in residential communities. The perspectives are examined within a framework of two central dimensions, social and physical capital. The rationale is that the level of social and physical capital in communities can influence the amount of crime. Communities are conceived as varying across positive, weak, or negative levels of social and physical capital. Negative social and physical capital produce higher levels of disorder and crime. Conversely, positive social and physical capital enables residents to lower social problems in communities. Weak social and physical capital allows more disorder because the community’s defenses against crime and disorder are not strong enough to combat these problems.

The general perspectives, which are examined in this book, include broken windows, defensible space, hot spots, collective efficacy, social disorganization, underclass gang communities, the post-industrialized communities and routine activities theory. The ameliorative programs, which are discussed in the book, include the weed and seed program, the moving to opportunity program, community policing, and empowerment zones.


“ ... When an academic trained in criminology looks at the problem of neighborhoods and crime, his or her training kicks in. What are the facts we know about a problem? How do we make sense of those facts? What does the best research tell us about what works, and what does not, in terms of solutions? Dr. Garland White has spent much of his career as an academic interested in the facts, theories and solutions that have developed around the problem of neighborhoods and crime. As an academic he is interested in helping to uncover facts and test theories, and thus much of his writing and research is focused on just these issues. Expressing to others in a clear and concise manner the best of what is known about crime, why crime is distributed the way it is across neighborhoods, and what works among the solutions that have been tried is the key way that someone trained as an academic can work for change. This book is the result both of Dr. White’s years in the classroom instilling in future police officers, city planners, social workers, civic league presidents and residents the critical thinking and understanding needed for change, and his hope that it will help others interested in teaching a class on neighborhoods and crime.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Ruth Triplett, Old Dominion University

“Community-based crime and disorder problems have been the focal concern for many researchers, police administrators, and policy makers since the 1980s. Very few systematic studies, however, have been conducted to fully investigate the role of community capital in neighborhood building and crime prevention. Dr. Garland White’s book on communities and crime makes a significant and valuable contribution to this extremely important but still under-researched subject. This book is not only theoretically rich but also exceptionally well written ... Given Dr. White’s extensive teaching and research experience in the area of neighborhoods and crime, this book should be an indispensable reference for those who want to understand the connections between social and physical characteristics of neighborhoods and crime and disorder ...” – Professor Ivan Y. Sun, University of Delaware

“ ... This book does not simply re-hash urban problems with the same old theories. This is a seemingly all-inclusive look at social disorder and the accompanying theories. The tacit premise of this book is ‘most community-based theories can be classified on their assumptions in investments in communities’ that affect physical and social capital. The book stresses the need to invest both physical and social capital in order to positively affect neighborhood conditions ... This book is well-written, well thought-out, and well-organized illustration of the ‘who’s who’ in Social Structure Theory. It’s a must-read for people who are studying the plight of urban neighborhoods, and the book should be a prerequisite for anyone planning to implement community-oriented crime control or prevention strategies.” – Professor Lorenzo M. Boyd, University of North Texas

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations (Figures, Tables)
1. Weak Physical Capital: The Social Disorder (Broken Windows) Perspective
2. Investments in Negative Physical Capital: Routine Activities, Awareness Areas and Hot Spots
3. Investments in Positive Physical Capital: Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design
4. Investments in Positive Social Capital
5. Weak Social Capital: Social Disorganization
6. Investments in Negative Social Capital: Gangs and Other Ways of Coping
7. Investments in Positive Social Capital from Outside
8. Where Financial Capital is Weak: Communities with Concentrated Problems
9. Summary: Resources, Investments and Community Capital