defensible space theory | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminology

Defensible space theory is a criminological perspective that suggests that the physical design and layout of a building or neighborhood can have an impact on crime rates.

According to this theory, the more “defensible” a space is, the less likely it is to experience crime. Defensible space theory was developed by criminologist Oscar Newman, who argued that designing physical spaces with a clear definition of ownership, natural surveillance, and territorial reinforcement could help to reduce crime and disorder. Defensible space theory has been influential in shaping the design of public housing projects, schools, and other public spaces, and it has been applied to a variety of settings around the world.

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Last Modified: 01/09/2023


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