Greening Vacant Lots and Reducing Violent Crimes

Vacant Lot Gets Weed Whacked
image courtesy of don33c on Flickr

Injury Prevention, an international peer-reviewed journal which works to reduce unintentional, intentional, occupational injuries throughout the world, performed a study of greening vacant lots to determine its association with reductions in violent crime. Vacant spaces are often overgrown and filled with trash, making them prime places to conceal weapons and drugs, conduct illegal activities, and engage in violent crimes. Evidence had suggested that greening the lots (cleaning out the lots, planting grass and trees, and building a fence around the perimeter) might reduce the frequency in violent crimes in the area.

Injury Prevention performed a randomized controlled trial of vacant lot greening to test its impacts on reducing violent crimes. They allocated two vacant lot clusters to the greening intervention or the control and measured the numbers of crimes and general perceptions of safety in the area. Although the trial did not show a significant decrease in the number of total crimes around the green vacant lots compared with the control, people nearby the green lots reported feeling significantly safer than those living around the control lots. Certain gun crimes were reduced in the greened areas but a larger randomized controlled trial is needed in order to further investigate the link between greening vacant lots and violence reduction.

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