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Environmental interventions to reduce fear of crime: systematic review of effectiveness

BioMed Central
Publication Date
  • Criminology
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine


Background: Fear of crime is associated with negative health and wellbeing outcomes, and may mediate some impacts of the built environment on public health. A range of environmental interventions have been hypothesized to reduce the fear of crime. Methods: This review aimed to synthesize the literature on the effectiveness of interventions in the built environment to reduce the fear of crime. Systematic review methodology, following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidance, was used. Studies of environmental interventions which reported a fear of crime outcome and used any prospective evaluation design (randomized controlled trial (RCT), trial or uncontrolled before-and-after study) were included. Eighteen databases were searched. The Hamilton tool was used to assess quality. A narrative synthesis of findings was undertaken. Results: A total of 47 studies were included, 22 controlled and 25 uncontrolled, with total sample sizes ranging from n = 52 to approximately n = 23,000. Thirty-six studies were conducted in the UK, ten studies in the USA and one study in the Netherlands. The quality of the evidence overall is low. There are some indications that home security improvements and non-crime-related environmental improvements may be effective for some fear of crime outcomes. There is little evidence that the following reduce fear of crime: street lighting improvements, closed-circuit television (CCTV), multi-component environmental crime prevention programs or regeneration programs. Conclusions: There is some evidence for the effectiveness of specific environmental interventions in reducing some indicators of fear of crime, but more attention to the context and possible confounders is needed in future evaluations of complex social interventions such as these.

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