Fabrizio Battistelli

Urban security: the insecurity paradox and the prevention dilemma

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Insecurity is a perception and security is both a perception and a public good. They are crucial in contemporary societies particularly at a local (urban) level and they pose major challenges for analysts and policymakers alike. The relation between insecurity and crime generally presents a paradox. In fact, the perception of insecurity grows inversely to the actual seriousness of crime: more serious offences (exceptional crimes, organized crime, white collars crimes) are feared less than less serious ones (property crimes, street crimes, incivilities). On the other hand, prevention strategies - structural or situational, applied to space or society - pose a dilemma. Structural prevention aims at offering solutions to the causes of crime, but it is difficult to implement and evaluate. Situational prevention, dealing with specific circumstances, is easier to implement and evaluate but can hardly provide long terms solutions. Facing such a dilemma, most frequently policymakers opt for a mix of the two types of prevention.


  • urban security
  • insecurity
  • fear of crime
  • structural prevention
  • situational prevention


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