There has been a long held belief that trees and bushes allow offenders to hide and ambush victims as well as aiding an escape, effectively facilitating crime. Contrary to common belief, well maintained plantings and urban greening have been found to lower the rates of certain types of crime such as robbery and aggravated assault.
- A study in Philadelphia found that the presence of managed vegetation is associated with reduced crime rates. Researchers analysed satellite imagery and crime data, taking into account important socioeconomic factors: population density, poverty levels and educational attainment.
- The authors suggest that well-maintained green spaces are calming, encourage social gathering, have better community supervision, and ultimately suppress crime.
This piece of evidence is counterintuitive and contradicts established ideas around town planning, vegetation and crime. This is another of the many benefits of urban vegetation, including reducing run-off, pollution and noise, providing habitat for wildlife and being aesthetically pleasing. The finding may change the way that urban areas are designed to include more well-maintained green space in line with Defra’s ‘protecting and enhancing our urban and natural environment to improve public health and wellbeing’ policy.