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Green space can reduce violent crimes in cities

Green space can reduce violent crimes in cities

New York: A new study suggests that properly designed and maintained outdoor green space has the potential to reduce violent crime and gun violence, to make communities safer and keep residents healthier.

Conversely, green space that is poorly designed and inadequately maintained can help crime take root and spread, the researchers said.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, come from a team of scientists that has assembled a big-picture review of research on the complicated relationship between nature and crime in urban areas.

They identified several patterns that can help inform public policy, guide urban design and promote neighbourhoods that are safe and pleasant to live in.

"How to control violent crime is a polarising issue. We are interested to see, as designers whose work is to shape the physical environment, if it's possible for us to contribute to this conversation and to take some actions to see if we, personally, can contribute to reducing crime," said study researcher from University of Virginia.

The research sought to synthesise the findings of many previous studies that looked at the effects of various forms of green space on crime and criminal

behaviour.

The researchers initially considered more than 14,000 papers but ultimately winnowed those down to 45 done in the US, which offered the most relevant insights into how access to nature might improve public safety.

According to the researchers, the initial review was challenging because the topic is vast and can be approached from many angles. "You might talk about community gardens, you might talk about people's lawns," explained researcher.

"People who do the

studies might go out and count the number of trees on sidewalks, or examine satellite images. Or look at the number of vacant lots that were turned into green space," added the researcher.

That, combined with the wide variety of crime examined and how it was reported, made it difficult for the researchers to draw specific conclusions.

For example, nine studies looked at the effect of green space on gun violence. Six found that such interventions reduced crime, while three were inconclusive. "There is evidence that greening interventions at the urban level reduces violent crime, specifically gun violence," researcher concluded.

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