International Handbook of Urban Policy, Volume 1
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International Handbook of Urban Policy, Volume 1

Contentious Global Issues

Edited by H. S. Geyer

This first Handbook in a series of three original reference works looks at globally contentious urban policy issues from a wide variety of different angles and perspectives. Matters related to urban densification, population mobility, urban inequality and sustainability are analysed in a manner that will not only interest the advanced student but also the novice.
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Chapter 9: Crime and Urban Living: Conditions, Theory and Policy Options

H.S. Geyer and B.A. Portnov


H.S. Geyer and B.A. Portnov Introduction One of the contradictions of our urban society is that people have to live together to reap the benefits of agglomeration, commonly measured by access to diverse employment, cultural and educational opportunities. However, living together in a society where the incomes and ethnic backgrounds of people differ substantially, invariably causes tension and anxiety amongst inhabitants. As urban communities grow, positive externalities of urban agglomeration tend to increase, but, at the same time, negative externalities of urban living also intensify. Although crime and violence do not occur in the same degree throughout all cities and are not related directly to urban size, even in economically advanced societies, violence and crime have become endemic. Also, the origin and target areas differ from case to case. While urban statistics of homicides, assault, rape and abuse in the developed world fluctuate over time, some showing short-term downward, others upward trends, violent crime in urban areas seems to be a steadily growing phenomenon worldwide (O’Connor, 2006). Experience has shown that containing it is not easy. In fact, one of the biggest challenges of our time is not only finding ways of reducing crime and uncivil behaviour between inhabitants of cities but to contain and if possible reduce the forms of excessive violence that have become part of the urban scene today. Every day, the average First World citizen gets bombarded by news of death and destruction in their own cities: Nine out of ten of the...

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