Challenges, conflicts and measures
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Challenges, conflicts and measures

Helle Nørgaard and Sølvi BørresenURBANSPACEFOREVERYONEChallenges, conflicts and measures© Foto: Sisse Jarner/

URBANSPACE...FOR EVERYONEChallenges, conflicts and measuresBy Helle Nørgaard and Sølvi BørresenThe Danish Building Research InstituteAalborg University

ForewordIn recent years there has beenmuch focus on the revitalisation ofcities and urban space. Streets andsquares are expected to offer lively,diverse settings that can accommodatea wide spectrum of users fromrollerbladers to café guests andpeople who simply want to relaxin the sun. Urban space should bebeautiful and interesting, invitingresidents and other users to meetand stay for a while.But urban space also holds thepotential for conflicts and crime:violence, theft, graffiti and saleof drugs take place within theconfines of the city. Experienceshows, however, that makinga conscious effort to properlydesign, maintain and operate urbanspace can reduce crime andincrease feelings of safety. The desireto prevent crime and increasesecurity can however clash withthe desire for diversity and livelinessand it is therefore importantto find a good balance betweenthese different elements and considerations.This balance must berooted in specific local conditions.For many years there has beena need for knowledge about thecrime prevention aspects of urbandevelopment which has encouragedThe Danish Crime PreventionCouncil to investigate this area.The purpose is to share knowledgeand experience with local politicians,urban planners, operationsmanagers and the police. One particularaspiration is to inspire thedistrict crime prevention councilsin the 12 Danish police districts todiscuss a holistic programme ofcrime prevention in urban space.The study underlying this report isa step in that direction. We hopethe report will help create greaterawareness of the developmentof urban space for the benefit ofresidents and users in the city.The report focuses on urban lifeand discusses the questions: Whyare some city spaces consideredsafe and others not? Where dopeople want to be? What are theinevitable dilemmas in the questto provide ‘urban space for everyone’?The study is based on eight cityspaces in Copenhagen, Odense,Århus and Aalborg with focus oncrime prevention measures andexperiences from local municipalitiesand the police. Focus is furthermoreon the users’ perceptionof safety in relation to the casestudy areas which were selectedon the basis of their relatively highincidence of crime compared withother parts of the cities: violence,theft and graffiti in particular. Theparticular urban spaces are placeswhere many people gather andwhere crime occurs which is thedownside of the city’s popularity.The study was conducted by HelleNørgaard, senior researcher andproject manager, and Sølvi KarinBørresen, researcher, from TheDanish Building Research Institute.Furthermore, Pernille Arborg,intern, contributed to the study.Thorkild ÆrøResearch DirectorThe Danish Building Research InstituteAnna Karina NickelsenHead of secretariatThe Danish Crime Prevention Council

Table of contentsUrban space for everyone? – conclusions and recommendations 7City life 10The city as meeting place 10Urban revitalisation 10Multifunctional city space 11Safety and risks 13What creates unsafety? 13Socially marginalised people in public space 14Making space for marginalised groups 14Challenges, problems and conflicts 15Crime and safety 16Routes, moving about and lighting 16Eyes on squares and places 17Closed spaces – open spaces 18Urban spaces – maintenance or neglect 18Dialogue and interdisciplinary cooperation 19‘The good square’ 20Users’ perceptions of risk 20Challenges and measures 20Challenges and measures for the various urban areas 21The selected cities and city spaces 22Copenhagen 22Odense 23Århus 24Aalborg 25Common features of the urban spaces 26

Urban space for everyone?– conclusions and recommendationsCities are undergoing constantchange where local municipalitiesfocus on making urban areas moreattractive, lively and interestingand where many new housingdevelopments are taken place. Thisis largely a success which meansmore people visit, use and live incities.A common goal in the revitalisationprocess is for urban space tobe welcoming and accessible toeveryone. At the same time, urbanplanners try to create flexible,diverse and multicultural space tomeet changes in use, preferencesand needs. Urban users have differentneeds and interests whichis a challenge to the concept of‘urban space for everyone’.Another goal in urban developmentis to avoid mono-functional areasand instead aim for a mix of activitiesin certain districts. This meansplacing stores, cafés, restaurants,amusement arcades, movie theatresand other types of businessesand housing side by side. This isattractive to many people becauseit livens up the street. But it alsocreates conflicts when familiesliving in the city have to co-existwith others who use the city asan entertainment centre until theearly hours of the morning. Byusing a more traditional strategy ofavoiding entertainment and otheractivities in housing areas andconcentrating ‘urban functions’ inother areas such conflicts can beavoided. However, this kind of concentrationcan leave some parts ofthe city deserted.Conceptually, multifunctional urbanspaces are designed to meetthe need of all users. However,urban planners often have specificusers in mind, and some workconsciously to design urban spacethat appeals to selected groups.For although the general goal is toprovide flexible, diverse and multiculturalspace, creating ‘commonspace’ is difficult in a time whereUrban success increases the use of the city’s various places and spaces. This results in greater wear and tear, which requires ongoingmaintenance, repair and renovation. Shown here, Søndergade, the main pedestrian street in Århus.7

Popular urban areas are not popular with everyone. Residents’ desire for peace and quiet conflicts with the nightlife fuelled by theentertainment options in the neighbourhood. Shown here: Jomfru Ane Gade in Aalborg.individuality is valued and markedby different and changing needs.There are many ‘urban successes’around the country and in manyways it has been possible to creatediverse urban life. However, theurban success is not for everyonesince there is not always roomand tolerance for all users. Meetingthe needs and preferences ofthe city’s various users requiresgreater focus on specific groupsand providing space for selectedusers - also those who are sociallymarginalised.The study shows that userstypically say that they do not feelunsafe in the city when askeddirectly. However, the study alsoshows that beneath the immediateimpression of safety andsecurity, in their daily lives peopledo think about whether places aresafe or unsafe. They avoid walkingin certain areas, instead choosingwhat is considered ‘safe routes’.Physical surroundings such as buildingsand street furniture, lightingand visibility thus influence the feelingof safety. Areas devoid of peopleare perceived as being unsafe. Thisshows that safety and securityissues are important to considerwhen working with public space.Some people perceive urban lifeand being in the city as unsafe andeven dangerous, and avoid certainareas because of fear of whatmight happen. This is a paradoxbecause the risk of actually being avictim of crime is on the decrease.While the fear of being the victimof crime has risen, for severalyears now, the crime rate has actuallyfallen in Denmark and otherEuropean countries.The study shows that the feelingof being unsafe is closely relatedto the perception of what and whois dangerous, and rarely to actualexperience. This does not hold truefor socially marginalised groups,however, whose members are atrisk of violence and attack, andwho therefore quite naturally feelhighly vulnerable.The conclusion is that workingwith public space presents manydilemmas. It is crucial to decidewhat kind of public space is aimedat and to consider who the usersmight be because particulardesigns etc. may be diminishingthe quality that is valued by someusers. There are no clear-cut solutionswhen working with urbandevelopment and creating safeenvironments for everyone. It isimportant to consider what kindof urban space is desired, what isfeasible, where different functionsshould be located and who willuse particular urban spaces.8

It is recommended to:• Acknowledge urban success,but recognise that increasedand different use causes morewear and tear.• Take a close look at the operationand maintenance ofpublic space. Does it match theincreased use of the city andurban success?• Consider the need for moresupervision of public space:reinstate park attendants toembody common norms ofbehaviour.• Distinguish between ‘urbanspace for everyone’ and ‘urbanspace for some’, acknowledgingthe impossibility of providingsafe urban space for everyoneat the same time.• Work with the several anddifferent types of users andcarefully weigh their various interestsand needs in the urbanpolicy process.• Improve visibility and lightingquality.• Strengthen cooperationbetween the police, urbanplanners, local businesses,homeowner associations andvolunteer organisations alongthe lines of the well-establishedVandalism and graffiti make many people feel unsafe. Neglect reinforces the feelingthat the area is unsupervised.SSP (formalised local cooperationbetween the schools,social services and police)cooperation.The purpose of this report is toprovide inspiration for planners,politicians, the police and othersinvolved in urban development. Thereport contains a description ofurban life and deals with the challenges,problems and conflicts relatedto urban revitalisation and thewide range of users. The descriptionof urban life will hold true formany cities, not only the spaces inCopenhagen, Odense, Århus andAalborg that were the basis forthe study. The report summarisesexperiences from planning, designingand operating and use ofurban space in the four cities listedabove. These experiences form thebasis for five recommendationsto help create a feeling of safetyand prevent crime. The reportconcludes with descriptions of theselected city spaces plus suggestedmeasures for various typesof space. The goal is to inspire othersin their efforts to create safer,livelier cities.Some of the places that feel most safe and pleasant during the day are those that feed insecurity after nightfall. Thinning out treesand bushes to create openness and visibility in the interests of providing safety for some people may spoil what was an urban oasisfor others. Shown here: Enghave park in Copenhagen.9

the residents’ different lifestyles,norms, expectations and desiressometimes give rise to conflicts.‘People are less accommodating. There isless tolerance today. Even though conditionsin Vesterbro have improved, peoplecomplain more.’ (Copenhagen police)Young people in particular occupy city space. Some come occasionally, while otherscome often, perhaps daily. The young are mobile and use the city’s various spaces fordifferent purposes. Shown here: Nytorv square in Aalborg.housing and courtyard renovationhave brought the housing standardup to the level of newer suburbanareas.For decades Danish city centreswere inhabited by a relativelyuniform group of residents: theyoung and the old. Urban renewalprojects have converted small flatsinto larger ones for families, whichwas possible because formerresidents who had been rehouseddid not want to return to their oldflats. The sale of municipal housingstock and the conversion intocooperative housing has alsochanged the mix of residents.‘Urban renewal has allowed other clienteleto move in. The newcomers are wellorganised and articulate with very highexpectations and demands.’ (Copenhagenplanner)In some cases young residentsstay in the city even when theystart having children which changetheir needs and interests along theway. In other cases new residentsmove to the city from the suburbs,bringing with them the normsupheld there plus the expectationof peace and quiet. Buyers purchasinghigh-priced city flats mayhave correspondingly high expectationsand demands. In any case,Vesterbro in inner-city Copenhagenhas been subject to major renewalefforts and general revitalisationwhich have attracted new residents.The drug addicts who havelong claimed the area near MariaChurch for their own make residentsfeel unsafe. In response tothis public space has been fencedoff. What was once public spacehas thus been converted intoprivate space that excludes otherusers.Multifunctional city spaceThe political goal is to createlively cities. In many planningdocuments the visual, functional,recreational, cultural and social aspectsof the design of streets andsquares and other public spaceis being emphasised. Focus is onimproving city space with opportunitiesfor changing and spontaneousactivities. Municipalities alsoorganise activities, events andentertainment to make the cityattractive. All these initiatives drawin many users and accelerate wearand tear on the city.The use of the city is not restrictedto the people who live there butAlthough we use the city differently depending on our norms and values, we often have the same objective. Shown left, a pub inthe Østerbro quarter of Copenhagen. Shown right, Vadestedet, a café and restaurant area in Århus.11

Many new dwellings are being built in parts of the city, attracting new residents and changing the use of the city. This represents anew situation as well as new open to everyone. Cities haveincreasingly become a meetingplace attracting young people fromwithin the city, from the suburbsnearby as well as distant regions.The young often meet just to hangout together, but there are alsocases where they arrange to meetto and have a fight. That makesother users feel unsafe, but theproblem is difficult to solve. Ifyoung people get word the policeare on their way, they just moveto a different area. Mobile phonesenable them to quickly disappearfrom one place and reappear inanother. That makes it extremelydifficult for the police to findgroups of young people who aredisturbing the peace or who arecommitting crime.This also means that problemscan shift from one geographic areato another. For example, policeactions to stop sale of cannabisin Freetown Christiania (a partiallyself-governing Copenhagen neighbourhoodwith semi-legal status)have moved both sellers and buyersto Vesterbro and other parts ofthe city. Similarly, police actions toclose down cannabis clubs, whichoften generate feelings of unsafety,have shifted the problems toother districts.‘The way children and young peoplecommunicate with each other, meet andpart is based on a social understandingand way of using the city that is new tous.’ (Copenhagen planner)Enghave park in Copenhagen is very much a multifunctional urban space. By day:sports, groups of pre-schoolers, old people, a supervised playground. By night: groupsof immigrants, people arranging dogfights and cannabis dealers.12

‘People who live in the area call and saythey don’t dare go out at night becauseof the aggressive dogs and groups ofyouth, as well as the people hangingaround street corners in connection withcannabis dealing.’ (District manager,roads and parks service, Copenhagen)One of the challenges of developinggood city space is that as astarting point it should accommodateall users and meet all correspondingneeds. Another challengeis that city space should be flexibleand future-oriented in terms of useand users.Safety and risksSense of safety and security ishighly individual. Some people feelinsecure about situations that barelyaffect others. The feeling canchange over time and is influencedby recent events. Some people arecongenital worriers while othersare more robust. Personality, backgroundand personal experiencestrongly influence what frightensus and makes us feel at risk.‘People feel reassured and relieved whenthe police turn up, but too much policepresence isn’t good because then peoplethink there are problems.’ (Odense policeofficer)This dark tunnel connects a park with the railway station in Aalborg. Pedestrian trafficis heavy during the day, but at night the area is deserted and some people hesitate touse the tunnel.unsafe. Some older women saidthat they basically never go out atnight, and in general the womenwho were interviewed felt moreunsafe after dark than did the men.Dense closed space with fewexits is considered unsafe and areplaces many users avoid. Poor orno lighting reinforces the feelingof unsafety when it is dark,and the police add that in somecases there is good reason to beon guard. Physical surroundingsclearly influence the sense ofsafety, and poor maintenance suchas litter, damaged benches, brokenwindows, graffiti and other typesof vandalism signal unsafe environments.Deserted areas and narrowempty streets also make manyusers uneasy.Different people react differentlyto situations that make them feelunsafe. Some take an offensiveand constructive approach to theuncertain and risky aspects of life.Others try to reduce their sense ofunsafety and insecurity by avoidingsituations and places that makethem feel vulnerable.What creates unsafety?Overall, the users who wereinterviewed in the study felt safemoving about the city. They cited‘personal familiarity with the area’as one of the most important elementsof feeling safe and secure.Users expressed that the time ofday has a major impact on howsafe they feel, and that darknessalone gives a feeling of beingTall trees, dense bushes and low visibility fuel the fear that someone may be lurkingnearby. Shown here: Enghave park in Copenhagen.13

Socially marginalised people inpublic spaceThe people who were interviewedsay that drug addicts and alcoholicsmake them feel unsafe, as dothe mentally ill who occupy oreven live in the city’s parks andsquares. Both police and districtmanagers report that there aremore mentally ill people in publicspace than there used to be. Onereason is that mental hospitalshave fewer beds available for thisgroup. Instead, a district psychiatryscheme has been established underwhich patients live in ordinaryhousing areas and are expectedto seek help or receive treatmentin their own homes. This leaves agroup of people who are unable toseek contact with the healthcaresystem and who are very much ontheir own.‘A lot of the problems that end up inpublic space are actually social problems.The roads and parks service is notreally equipped to handle them.’ (Districtmanager, roads and parks service)Many of the users find that marginalisedgroups have a strongpresence in public space andand feel excluded by the normsand rules set out by this group ofpeople. Many users avoid placesfavoured by marginalised groups.Planners and district park managerswho participated in the studysay that many people turn to thembecause they don’t feel comfortablewalking past a group ofpeople sitting drinking in public.‘I think it creates a general feeling ofunease if you see behaviour that is unexpectedand unmotivated. Somethingoutside your own set of rules. Whatmakes drug addicts and drunks unpleasantis that they do things we really don’tcare to witness.’ (Copenhagen planner)Large groups of people in generalmake other people feel unsafewhen they themselves are theminority. This is also the case withlarge groups of young people whomake a lot of noise.‘It’s mainly a group of neglected youthages 12-18 who create a lot of insecurity.’(Aalborg police officer)The study shows that the usergroups that feel the most vulnerableand insecure are marginalisedpeople themselves, who inmany cases have been attackedor subjected to various types ofharassment. Several of these usersalso said that knowing they areunwanted in public space makesthem feel unsafe.Making space for marginalisedgroupsThe four cities in the study takedifferent approaches to the marginalisedgroups that occupy publicspace. Most have removed largenumbers of benches in recentyears to discourage unwantedgroups from taking over city space.However, this diminishes the qualityof the same space, because itprevents others from sitting downcomfortably to enjoy the view or asunny day.‘The harsh reality is that we have removedup to two-thirds of the benchesin public space over the past 20 years.’(Copenhagen planner)Some cities have made consciousefforts to separate users andcreating playgrounds, footballfields, basketball courts, etc. whihare separated from benches andsitting areas. Focus is all togetheron creating open spaces with goodvisibility as experience shows thatif trees and bushes are allowed tomake the space too dense, marginalisedgroups take over suchspaces, deterring other groupsfrom using them.Marginalised groups, including the homeless, feel unsafe about occupying citysquares, which are ‘home’ to them. Local authorities take different approaches tohandling this group of users, but no one claims to have found an ideal solution.Some cities have experimentedwith setting up shelters for marginalisedgroups outside the citycentre, and consider that a goodsolution. Others see marginalisedgroups as part of city life and haveattempted to design space withthem in mind. Thus local authoritieshave different views on whereit is most appropriate to designatespace or shelters for marginalisedgroups. One view is that it is betterto keep them in the heart ofthe city, because an urban core isbetter equipped to handle manydifferent kinds of people. Alternatively,some decision-makers focuson moving ‘problem’ groups out ofthe city centre.14

Challenges, problems and conflictsThe study shows that workingwith, and planning for urban spacepresents numerous challenges.Politicians, business and tradeassociations, restaurant and caféowners and many users find itattractive that the city is in highgear and is used by many people.In contrast, some residents andother users want the city quiet andpeaceful. Another challenge is thatwhile some users seek diversity,surprise, festivity and welcomeswhat is foreign and unknown, othershave a need to control and limitaccessibility to make the city safe,familiar and predictable.Challenges and conflictsLife in the cityDiversity and contrastQuiet in the citySafety, predictability and familiarityThe study indicates a change in norms with regard to the use of public urban space: rather than consideringothers, today users are more likely to focus on their own needs and desires. The study shows that the developmentof social relations and networks is not necessarily rooted in the place we live, but rather that individualchoices are made about whom and where to meet.Development in problems and challenges- from - toConsideration for other usersFocus on own needs and desiresPlace based values and normsSelected meetings with like-mindedOwn responsibilityPublic responsibilityPublic spacePrivate gated spaceThe study also shows that people are more likely to turn to public authorities to solve conflicts than to try andsort out problems with neighbours or other users. Safety isseus have brought about some distinct changes inpublic space, such as door intercoms and locked courtyards. There are also examples where public space nearresidential areas is fenced in order to protect residents from potential risk. This converts public space into privateterritory that bars other users from access.Overall, changes in use and shiftsin norms regarding city spacepresent many challenges for theplanning, revitalisation and use ofurban space. It is also a challengefor the police and for operating andmaintaining city space, particularlyin terms of preventing crime andcreating a sense of safety.In many places, doors and gates arelocked to prevent ‘undesirable elements’from occupying courtyards. Shown: arenovated courtyard in the middle ofFredericia.15

Crime and safetyThis report aims to identify crimeprevention measures and initiativesfor making urban spaces safer forusers. It is based on interviewsconducted with urban planners,district park managers, police andusers of urban spaces in Copenhagen,Odense, Århus and Aalborgin an attempt to gain insight intothe types of problem in the variousdistricts and to explain why theyarise. More specifically thepurpose is to illustrate experiences,ways of cooperating betweenthe parties involved and lessonslearned in relation to crime preventivemeasures.The experiences of urban plannerscan be categorised into threethemes:• The design of urban spaces andthe challenges relative to differentuser groups• Crime prevention planning,crime prevention strategies andcooperation with other parties• Use and users in the city, theways different groups occupyurban spaces, and the interviewees’impression of howdifferent users perceive the cityfrom a safety viewpoint.The interviews with police focusedon user groups, overall crimerates, types of crime, police initiativesand different crime preventionmeasures. Police were alsoasked about their cooperativepartners when dealing with youngpeople as well as marginalisedgroups such as the homeless.In the study observations weremade in the early morning, afternoonand evening, and passers-bywere interviewed in relation to useof the eight urban spaces,. Onetheme was users’ general use androutes around the city, whetherthey avoided particular places, andif so, why. Another theme was users’perception of the place, crimein the area, and the source of informationabout the selected places.A third theme was users’ feelingof safety and security at varioustimes of day. A fourth theme wasusers’ description of ‘good’ and‘bad’ public places and squares.Together, the interviews and observationsprovided input for crimeprevention and safety-enhancingmeasures. The study shows thatmunicipalities are aware of crimeprevention recommendations toopen up urban spaces, make themvisible and populate them. However,the study also showed that noneof the municipalities pursued a generalcrime prevention strategy thatsystematically implements theserecommendations. As a result, itwas not possible to evaluate theeffect of initiatives in the eight cityspaces. The following suggestionsfor improving safety and preventingcrime are the sum of differentexperiences in the four cities ratherthan based on specific measuresfor selected urban spaces.16Many cities ban alcohol consumption, which means people cannot sit on a bench anddrink where in contrast users are allowed to drink in cafés and restaurants. The policerarely enforce this prohibition. The sign shown prohibiting the use of alcohol is in thecentre of Nykøbing Falster.Routes, moving about and lightingThe freedom to choose saferoutes and have alternatives whenmoving about the city is crucialto the perception of safety. Goodlighting is especially importantin this regard. When discussingsafe routes, a distinction shouldbe made between necessary andoptional movements. Focus onlighting is particularly important inareas that people have to use, forexample, areas connecting centralfunctions in the city such asthe railway station and shoppingzones. Other routes are chosenfreely as shortcuts – a narrowalley, a deserted square or a darkpark – places they do not need to

The study shows that peoplecompensate for lack of lightingby choosing alternative routes.The study also shows that goodlighting creates a sense of safetyand that planners should considerthe safety aspects of lightingas well as the desired use of andmovement within urban spaces.A walk throughout the city focusingon lighting and safety can bea tool to this hours and at weekends.When working with lighting solutions, planners can alter users’ routes by turning anoptional shortcut into a main route. The photograph shows the Kongens Have park inOdense.go but choose of their own accord.The same lighting requirementsdo not apply to these areas, andin relation to parks there is ratherthe need to consider the need forseclusion when visiting parks.Several municipalities are makingconscious attempts to improvelighting, and their work has shownpositive results. In some cases, authoritiesinitiated their own lightingprojects such as in Odense, wherethe safety and security aspects oflighting were examined.A walk through the city can be thefirst stage towards creating an urbanlighting plan. During the walk,planners should consider the desireduse of and movement withinthe urban space and how lightingcan be used to prevent crime andcreate sense of safety.Eyes on squares and placesUrban spaces, pedestrian streetsand city centres that are abandonedand deserted cause manypeople to feel unsafe. The goal formany municipalities and planningdepartments is to integrate differentfunctions in order to create alively environment. Attempts arealso being made to preserve housingin city centres so that thesequarters stay populated after work-Focus on lighting is needed in places that people need to pass through to get from onepart of the city to another.The police have focus on beingpresent when they know manypeople are going to congregate,such as at big events like footballmatches and concerts, or whenmany people are out on the town.However, the rise in reportedcrime is evidence that this problemalso occurs elsewhere.There is a great deal of focus onthe extent to which video surveillanceprevents crime. The studyshowed that surveillance can helpthe police to solve crime, but alsothat crimes such as violence, assaultand vandalism often happenafter people have been drinkingor using other substances and, insuch cases, surveillance probablyhas a limited effect on preventingcrime. Although video surveillancemakes some people feel safe, itcan also create a false sense ofsecurity.The study reveals a dilemma: toseparate or to combine dwellingswith other city functions such asrestaurants and cafées. While thegoal of urban development andplanning has gradually becometo mix functions in individualurban quarters and areas, thestudy shows that this blend alsohas a downside such as conflictsbetween various users and alsoan increase in crime and violencein particular that occurs whenmany people gather. Althoughpopulating urban spaces is goodfor people’s sense of safety, italso generates problems when awide variety of activities goon simultaneously.17

The presence of private residences around public squares means many people may be watching, a form of ‘surveillance’ thathas a crime prevention effect. But if the square has lots of users, conflicts and crime may also result. Louise Square in Aalborg isdeserted.Closed spaces – open spacesClosed, non-transparent publicspaces may cause a sense of uneasebut they also have qualities.A closed park can feel unsafe, especiallyin the evening, because itaffords few escape routes. Fencingalso means that certain groups cantake over and dominate the space,preventing others from using it.However, other considerationsspeak in favour of closed, fencedinurban spaces.Open spaces are a contrast toclosed spaces. Open, unfencedareas can be a problem becausethey have no clearly definedboundaries. Consequently, suchareas can act as transit spaces andloose the qualities of closed parks.The study shows that some of thesafest and most pleasant placesduring the day are those peoplefind most unsettling after nightfall.There is a need for a variety ofurban spaces – even those thatseem unsafe after nightfall. Thesolution here is to offer alternativeOne of the qualities of recreational areasis that they can be screened off from thesurrounding city, offering a much neededoasis. Fencing can help block out noiseand provide shelter and privacy, as wellas making the place safe for groups likeparents with young children. Shownhere: Enghave park in Copenhagen.The study shows there are noprecise guidelines for workingwith open and closed spaces.Open, unfenced spaces offer unimpededviews and an opennessthat promotes safety. Closedspaces have other, recreationalqualities that are lost if fencesand plants are removed to createoverview and openness. Thereis a need both types of urbanspace.routes for getting from one placeto another.Urban spaces – maintenance orneglectMaintaining and refurbishing publicurban spaces is crucial to oursense of safety. The study showsthat lack of maintenance sets avicious circle in motion and thatplaces that are not taken care offoften attract marginalised groupssuch as substance abusers.18

Neglect and lack of supervision makeurban spaces susceptible to crime suchas vandalism, drug sales and prostitution,which frightens and deters many users.Experience shows that it is possibleto breathe new life into rundownurban spaces by renewingand refurbishing them and addingnew functions to attract otherusers. Once it has been decidedto create a new urban space, thesuccess of the project will dependon sufficient funds being allocatedto maintain the area and preventit from falling into disrepair. Thestudy also shows that specialefforts are needed at weekendswhen large numbers of users tendto leave piles of rubbish.Local authorities have had varying experienceswith park supervision. Overall,supervision has been found to havea crime prevention effect as well ascreating safety. Signs in Enghave park,Copenhagen.constant supervision, focus couldbe on particular areas and effortsdirected to places where thingsare going in the wrong direction.This requires that personnel keepan eye on what is going on.The study shows that a viciouscircle rapidly gains momentum ifurban spaces are not kept cleanand maintained. In addition,all urban spaces need ongoingmaintenance and supervision aswell as differentiated, intensiveefforts at weekends and duringthe establishment of a newurban space. The rising successand use of cities have magnifiedthese needs.Dialogue and interdisciplinarycooperationInterdisciplinary cooperation hasproved successful. It is a particularlygood approach to outreachand crime prevention initiativestargeted at marginalised childrenand young people where cooperationis established betweenthe police, local authority socialservices, parents’ groups, schools,residents’ organisations and otherassociations.Analogous to this is the need forbroader, more interdisciplinaryinitiatives between the partiesinvolved in the planning and operationof urban spaces – public andprivate players alike. City planningcannot be viewed in isolation and,to be successful, often has to becarried out through broad collaborativeefforts and sometimes integratedwith social programmes.Planners also need to engage indialogue with users – even sociallymarginalised groups like thehomeless – and thus strengthenthe individual user’s ownership ofurban spaces.The police are working systematicallyto chart crime. They monitorcrime trends and launch policeefforts to critical ‘hot spots’ wherecrime is heavily concentrated. Thisknowledge would be useful tothe planning departments of localmunicipalities and help them totarget their efforts. However, thisexchange of knowledge wouldrequire close teamwork betweenpolice and local governmentauthorities to focus attention onhigh-risk areas.The study shows that urban developmentposes many challengesrequiring close cooperationamong a broad group of players,including the police and urbanplanners. Interdisciplinary projectsshould be initiated alongsidethe work of planning, designingand operating urban spacesand should be part of outreachprogrammes targeted at sociallymarginalised groups.In many municipalities there arecuts in the supervision of publicparks resulting in rubbish bins,plants and other items beingstolen from parks. In some casesrubbish is dumped, which increasesmaintenance costs. Thestudy shows that the presence ofpark attendants can have a positiveeffect and that intensive effortsare needed to promote ‘gooduser’ habits, particularly in theearly phases of establishing a newurban space. Park attendants couldcarry out this function. Instead ofPolice GIS map showing crime hot spots.19

‘The good square’For many users, the familiar andpredictable are inextricably linkedwith the feeling of safety. This contradictsgeneral planning and developmentgoals for urban spaces.Planners strive to develop multifunctional,multicultural and flexiblecity spaces that meet the needs ofdifferent users and offer opportunitiesfor a variety of activities. Thismeans that use and users change,interviewees who brought this upthemselves. Many said they felt unsafenear groups of young people,especially ethnic minorities. Intervieweesalso referred to certainhousing areas as ‘unsafe’, althoughtheir only knowledge of these areascame from the media and hearsay.No-one had ever personally visitedthe housing areas in question.Interviews with users show that assumptionsabout dangerous peopleand places have a significant impacton their feeling of safety.The good square in Piran, Slovenia.The study shows that the feelingof safety is related to notions ofdanger. Feelings of being unsafewhen visiting certain urban spacesis rarely founded in actual experience;rather, they have a mediacreatedimage and perception ofplaces and people that pose danger– perceptions that are presentwhen moving about in the city.Many factors determine whethera square is experienced as pleasantand attractive. First and foremost,it not only has to do withthe square itself. The surroundingareas, buildings and functions areessential to how people experiencethe square. Last but notleast, the square’s other usershave an impact on how the squareis perceived. The study shows thatusers have a clear idea of whatconstitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ placesand city spaces. Overall, there isbroad agreement that a good, safeplace is one where there are manypeople and a pleasant atmosphere.Good urban spaces are ‘placeswith people and light’, whereasdeserted squares and streets areoften considered unsafe. A commonthread is that personal familiaritywith a location makes peoplefeel safe and secure.which is attractive to some people,but causes others to feel unsafe.Users’ perceptions of riskThe study shows that users’perception of crime is based oninformation from television, newspapersand hearsay. About halfthink crime rates have dropped orremained stable and that violenceis the most common form ofcrime. The people surveyed hadnot personally been the victims ofcrime or experienced any violence,with the exception of some of thesocially marginalised people.The study shows that users havepreconceptions about ethnicminorities and housing complexeswith a bad reputation. The topic of‘strangers’ was important to theChallenges and measuresSpaces in cities have differentfunctions and forms; for example,parks, city centres and pedestrianstreets differ in their use andlayout. Many spaces have overlappingfunctions such as a café ona pedestrian street or in the citycentre that acts as a meeting placeas well as a place to spend time.A park or a square can be a placeto meet, but can also simply bea place people pass through ontheir way from one destination toanother – a transit space. Some urbanspaces function both as transitspaces and places to stay. Focusin the study was on three differenttypes of urban space that combinedaccount for the bulk of spacein a city: transit spaces, parks, andcity centres/pedestrian streets.20

Challenges and measures for the various urban areasTransit spacesParksCity centres/pedestrian streetsChallengesOften anonymous and actprimarily as pedestrian thoroughfares.Open without clearly definedboundaries.Do not invite people to stay;attract marginalised groupsthat have nowhere else togo.Attract many users in daytimehours. Although parksoffer a haven in the city, afternightfall they assume a differentguise, and their dense,enclosed design and lack ofoverview and escape routescan create unsafety.Most towns throughout thecountry have many usersduring the day, but manytown centres and pedestrianstreets are deserted oncethe shops close. Abandoned,deserted, poorly lit streetscreate insecurity. Paradoxically,‘night on the town’activities can cause conflictsand insecurity.MeasuresCreate activity zones in thespace but ensure it remainsopen with an unobstructedview.Plan activities and eventsthat give the space a newrole and identity.Illuminate main paths whilemaintaining the denselyplanted areas so people feelsafe.Build activity zones that attractand keep different typesof users at different times ofday.Encourage inner-city housingand mix residential with commercialand business areas.Create activities and functionsthat attract users afterclosing hours.Investigate the most appropriateareas to place ‘nighton the town’ functions.21

The selected cities and city spacesThe cities in the study were foundedhundreds of years ago, andonly limited changes have beenmade to their historic centres. Thesquares and parks, streets andneighbourhoods that connectedthe town can still be identified oncity maps. A bird’s eye view ofthe city often clearly shows whichroutes people use to get from oneplace to another, for example, fromthe city’s rail and bus terminals tothe city centre. Seen from above,the places that attract many peopleare also obvious, as are the places,squares and streets that are relativelydeserted.CopenhagenIn Copenhagen the focus was onAmagertorv, a square, and Enghavepark. Amagertorv, with itsfamous stork fountain, is located inthe city centre while the park is inthe city’s Vesterbro district.AmagertorvAmagertorv in Copenhagen isa meeting place. It is a vibrantsquare with performing artistsand numerous other activities thatcontribute to city life. Amagertorvboasts cafés, which appeal to theyoung and make it a hip meetingplace. It also has a wealth of shopsand is heavily frequented by tourists.Lots of people gather here, attractingothers who commit crimessuch as theft, robbery and streetrobbery. Violence occurs laterin the evening, especially whenpeople make their way home fromthe pubs to the town hall square tocatch a night bus or to the centralrailway station to catch a train. Thisis a problem throughout Strøget,the city’s main pedestrian street. Itis typically drunks that are involvedin violent incidents that mostlytake place between people whoalready know each other or betweenthose who have met in thecourse of the evening. An opinionexpressed by all the people interviewedon Amagertorv was thatthey felt safe on the square irrespectiveof time of day. The squareMany people use Strøget, Copenhagen’s pedestrian street, and Amagertorv square.The countless shopping streets attract lots of people – including those who commitcrimes such as theft and perceived as a pleasant placeto stay or pass through because ithas good visibility.Enghave parkEnghave park in the Vesterbrodistrict of Copenhagen has manydifferent users. Some are localpeople who work in the vicinityand use the park to sit on a benchand enjoy the sun or people whowalk the dog, while others are parentswith children who play in thepark. The park has a supervisedplayground whose staff activateand play with the children. Peopleenjoy sport on the basketball court.Enghave park can de described asa place that leads a double life, ifnot more. It has a daytime existencewhen children, parents andolder people visit. In the evening,the users are groups of youngpeople who have arranged tomeet in the park. The park is oftensubject to vandalism and used bydog owners who organise dogfights there. There is a brisk tradein cannabis as well. Patrons of thenearby night club Vega often causetrouble here. The life that unfoldsin the park in the evening makesmany local residents feel extremelyunsafe. Immediately adjoiningEnghave park is a square, primarilyused by beer drinkers who comeevery day. A circular hedge partiallyscreens the square, hiding it fairlywell from passers-by. The squareis described as a safe place duringthe day but less so in the evening.Although Enghave park is a green oasis in the city, it is a place some nonetheless avoid.22

OdenseIn Odense, the urban spacesselected were Kongens Have, StHans Square and the railway stationsquare. These three adjoiningareas are considered an integratedwhole.Kongens HaveKongens Have in Odense is ahistoric park, which, togetherwith Odense Castle, is part ofDenmark’s cultural heritage.Kongens Have is centrally locatedand connects the railway stationwith the city centre. The area thusfunctions more as a transit zonethan a proper recreational park.A possible explanation is thatthe city has other more attractiverecreational areas, such asMunke Mose. A very mixed groupuses the park. Some people passthrough on their way to and fromthe city centre; groups of childrenand young people – many fromthe nearby school – play ball here;other people simply sit on a benchenjoying the sun. Marginalisedgroups are also present, includingsome visibly under the influence ofdrink or drugs.Kongens Have is relatively open,but the inner area has rows ofbenches surrounded by tall hedges.A considerable amount of drugdealing goes on here. In the past,the park was the scene of numerousrobberies, but a special actiongroup was brought in as well asthe city police patrol unit, whichled to a drop in crime. Some maleand female interviewees feel unsafeusing the park after nightfall.St Hans Square and the railwaystation squareSt Hans Church and Marie Jørgensen’sSchool are located on StHans Square. Between the churchand the school is a car park usedby the schoolchildren’s parents,churchgoers and others. Parentshave complained that the presenceDrug dealing is one of the activities that go on behind the tall hedges of KongensHave, Odense.The railway station square is used mainly as a transit space.of groups of marginalised peopleon the square makes them feelunsafe and uncomfortable. Localauthority planners describe thesquare as slightly dark and dull,and would like to open it up to attractmore people to pass through.The railway station square wasbuilt in 2005. It is an open, slightlyelevated paved square with flightsof steps and benches, minimalplants and a statue of Hans ChristianAndersen on his travels, asculptural interpretation by an artist;Bjørn Nørgaard. The square hasan underground car park. The areaacts primarily as a transit spaceand a short stay zone, for example,when people stop to read the wallnewspaper on the façade of FyensStiftstidende’s new media house.The interviewees generally feelsafe using St Hans Square and therailway station square.23

ÅrhusTogether, St Clemens Square, StClemens Bridge and Vadestedetcan be considered a single areaon two levels. St Clemens Bridgeis a continuation of the pedestrianstreet, Søndergade, and crossesÅrhus Å, the river running throughthe city. Vadestedet lies alongsidethe river below.St Clemens Square and St ClemensBridgeThe height of St Clemens Bridgegives pedestrians an unimpededview in all directions. From oneside, they can look down on Vadestadetwith its wealth of cafésand restaurants, while the otherside offers a view of Åboulevarden,the riverside boulevard. Usersdescribe the square and bridge asan area that they ‘like to visit’.VadestedetWhen Århus Å was uncovered atthe end of the 1990s, a special cityarea – Vadestedet – was createdon the section from Immervad toSt Clemens Square. Vadestedethouses a wide array of restaurantsand cafés, with the focus onproviding opportunities for outdooractivities in summer. The area attractstourists and locals alike. Theclientele changes several timesover a 24-hour period: during theday business people eat lunchhere, in the evening young familiesout for dinner are the main users,followed by university studentsenjoying a café latte or a beer.Around 10 pm the students gohome, and the slightly more ‘hardcore’ user group takes over. It isonly after 10 pm and into the nightthat problems arise. From end-Mayto end-June and again from mid-August to end-September, policeare on special alert in the areaSt Clemens Bridge affords a good view of city life by the river, but many people are deterredfrom using the area under the bridge because they cannot see what is going on.because crowds of people gatherhere for various events such asthe Århus Festival week in August-September. Young people aretypically those who cause troubleand commit crime, and the policehave special focus on the grouptermed ‘young people who causeCafés and restaurants one after another at Vadestedet.insecurity’. The crime rate is fairlylow relative to the large number ofpeople in the area. Users describethe area around Vadestedet, StClemens Square and St ClemensBridge as a safe area and with‘good places’ for passing the timeof day.24

AalborgIn Aalborg, John F. Kennedy’sSquare and Bispensgade, startingat Nytorv, were the areas selectedfor the study. John F. Kennedy’sSquare is situated near two heavilytrafficked streets, Jyllandsgadeand Prinsensgade. Nytorv lies towardsthe Aalborg city centre, andthe pedestrian street Bispensgadeoriginates in Nytorv.John F. Kennedy’s SquareJohn F. Kennedy’s Square showsthe characteristics typical of anarea somewhere between a transitspace and a park. The square providesaccess to a long undergroundtunnel leading to Kildeparken. FrontingJyllandsgade and Prinsensgadeare bus stops with bus shelters.Dense traffic makes the area verynoisy and thus unattractive forspending any amount of time.However, a ‘square within a square’has been built – a circular place tostay with benches set off by a rowof trees. A group of beer-drinkershave adopted this circular space astheir daytime hang-out. This grouphave expressed great satisfactionwith the square, describing it as apleasant and safe place for meetingfriends. Planners and police, whoknow the area well, say these regularusers do not pose a problem.However, a few of the passers-bywho were interviewed said they feltuncomfortable and unsafe whenpassing the benches occupied bybeer drinkers.Kennedy Square is primarily a place used by the city’s marginalised groups.visited by young people. JomfruAne Gade and the Bispensgadeshopping street are connectedand, according to the police, unsafeat night.Nytorv seems to have specialsignificance for young people,a showcase where they go tobe ‘seen’ and meet others. Theyoung people on Nytorv are veryloud and moves around which isoften a reason that other usersfeel unsafe. However, the usersinterviewed did not find Bispensgadean unsafe place to be. It hasgood street lighting, and the shopsare also lit up after normal openinghours. Nonetheless, there are afew narrow alleyways and nicheswhere people can hide, and thiscan generate a sense of unsafety.Bispensgade from NytorvBispensgade is a busy shoppingstreet with speciality shops andcafés that bustle with life. It is aplace where people stroll, shop,watch life pass by and observethe city. Jomfru Ane Gade, a sidestreet to Bispensgade, boastsmany restaurants and discotheques,popular places frequentlyBispensgade and Nytorv are streets where people meet before going out for a night onthe town. Nytorv is a regional traffic hub and the terminus for many regional bus routes.25

Common features of the urbanspacesAs mentioned in the foreword,the criteria for selecting the eighturban spaces was the high crimerate. Information on the type andextent of crime are registered inthe electronic police filing system(POL-SAS). The Danish NationalPolice Centre for Investigation Support(NEC-DATA) integrates a mapof the area (Orthofoto) with reportedcrime data. The geographiccoordinates of the crime scene canbe used to determine the extentand type of crime in specific partsof the city.Maps of the selected city spacesshow they have higher crime ratesthan neighbouring quarters. Thetypes of crime are usually vandalism,violence, theft and robbery.These areas are also places wheremany people meet and gather,which is one reason for the highercrime rates. Physical features suchas the layout and maintenance ofstreets, squares and parks alsoplay a role for the extent of crimewhile also being vital to users’perception of safety in the city.26

Published by:The Danish Crime PreventionCouncil and the Danish BuildingResearch Institute (SBi), AalborgUniversityAuthors:Helle Nørgaard, senior researcherand Sølvi Børresen, researcherboth SBiPhotos:Chiliarkiv: front and back coversThorkild Ærø: pages 9 top, 11 bottom,12 top, 15, 16, 19 and 20Pernille Arborg: pages 7, 8, 9 bottom,10, 11 top, 12 bottom, 13, 17,18, 19 bottom, 14Layout:Ulla Skov, The Danish Crime PreventionCouncilPrinting:Prinfo KøgePrint run:1000ISBN: 978-87-88789-82-9DKR no.: 08-401-0229This publication can be orderedfrom:The Danish Crime PreventionCouncilOdinsvej 19, 2nd floorDK-2600 GlostrupTel.: +45 43 44 88 88E-mail: dkr@dkr.dkor downloaded from / permitted with statementof source.

Efforts to create ‘urban space for everyone’ are challenged by adilemma of safety versus crime. This report describes the resultsof a study of city life and users’ perceptions of urban space.© Foto: Sisse Jarner/

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