Crime, fear of crime and social order in a post-war British new town: a humanistic contribution to environmental criminology.

Sothcott, Keir (2009) Crime, fear of crime and social order in a post-war British new town: a humanistic contribution to environmental criminology. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This study examines the continuing viability of the New Town Idea – an influential post-war Town Planning Model – in relation to current government imperatives that all future urban developments contribute to crime prevention and the diminishment of fear. The study advances an ‘urbanism from below’ by considering how residents of Harlow, one of the first built New Towns, experience their everyday environment and the impact it has upon their perceptions of crime, fear and disorder. By focusing upon the ‘lived experiences’ of a whole urban environment and its compatibility with human need, the study offers a ‘Humanistic’ approach to Environmental Criminology. It should, therefore, interest not only those responsible for current and future urban development but also those hoping to move Environmental Criminology beyond a narrow concern with risk reduction. The thesis suggests that the New Town Idea, as manifest in Harlow, is a weak foundation for establishing a strong urban public realm. This is probably a major reason why the town has a crime rate incommensurate with the idea’s original utopian aspirations. Nevertheless, the same idea succeeds in enhancing a ‘sense of place’ which residents of Harlow experience in a way that reduces fear of crime. Especially important is the experience of ‘mystery’ and local familiarity within a context of environmental legibility and coherence that simultaneously satisfies ontological and bio-psychological human needs for security and risk. Thus, the study concludes that the New Town Idea, contrary to the claims of its many detractors, does retain a partial viability. Some important modifications to the Idea, however, are necessary. The study finishes, therefore, by suggesting that the New Town Idea may successfully combine with the principles of New Urbanism in the development of towns with both ‘safe’ and pleasurable environments.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

Dissertation submitted to the School of Health and Social Sciences, Middlesex University, in Partial fulfilment of the Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Research Areas:Theses
Law > Criminology
ID Code:6256
Deposited On:08 Jul 2010 15:49
Last Modified:08 Feb 2013 09:09

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