The Impact of Green Space on Violent Crime in Urban Environments: An Evidence Synthesis
Department of Design & Environmental Analysis, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA
Mann Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(24), 5119; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16245119
Received: 31 October 2019 / Revised: 10 December 2019 / Accepted: 12 December 2019 / Published: 14 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Healing Spaces: Designing Physical Environments to Optimize Health, Wellbeing and Performance)
Can the presence of green space in urban environments reduce the frequency of violent crime? To ascertain the evidence on this topic, we conducted an in-depth literature review using the PRISMA checklist. The search parameters included US articles written in English and published since 2000. More than 30,000 potential paper titles were identified and ultimately, 45 papers were selected for inclusion. Green spaces typically comprised tree cover, parks and ground cover. Criminal behaviors typically included murder, assault, and theft. The majority of the research reviewed involved quantitative methods (e.g., comparison of green space area to crime data). We extracted multiple mechanisms from the literature that may account for the impact of green space on crime including social interaction and recreation, community perception, biophilic stress reduction, climate modulation, and spaces expressing territorial definition. Recommendations are made for future research, such as meta-analysis of existing data and the development of grounded theory through qualitative data-gathering methods. By providing evidence that access to nature has a mitigating impact on violence in urban settings, city governments and communities are empowered to support these interventions.