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

Lorenc Theo, Mark Petticrew, Margaret Whitehead, David Neary, Stephen Clayton, Kath Wright, Hilary Thompson, Steven Cummins, Amanda Sowden, Adrian Renton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
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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 beforeand- 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), multicomponent environmental crime prevention programs or regeneration programs. Conclusions There is some evidence for the 3 / 7 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2013


  • Fear of crime
  • Systematic review
  • Builtenvironment
  • Intervention effectiveness


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