Crime in Urban & Rural Areas

Both urban and rural areas are in constant transformation and crime reflects such dynamic in space and time. As the world become more interconnected with the use of mobile phones, social media and a wide array of ICT technologies, the risk for victimization is claimed to be increasing, and more importantly, regardless of where you are located. This may explains why people living in Pajala, Northern Sweden, may run the same risk of being victimized by internet fraud as people living in Manhattan, New York. By the same token, the use of mobile devices (e.g. Apps, cameras) to report events as they happen in real time are making us potential guardians (or place managers); making us witnesses of crimes but also making our intervention possible, sometimes kilometers away from where the event happens.

Yet, urban and rural environments are not exposed to crime in the same way. There are reasons to believe we need a more nuanced perspective of the types of crimes in particular local and regional contexts. We need to go beyond explanations of crime based on population density and supply of crime opportunities. We will explain why. The dynamics of today’s crimes must be informed by knowledge about historical, demographic, socio-economic and cultural contexts of the places where they occur. We believe that these particular contexts may help explain why crime flourishes at certain places and not in others. Equally important is to consider that we live in a globalized world in which some local crime conditions may be interlinked to regional and global criminogenic threats. For example, the use of narcotics in a rural community in Sweden may trigger criminal organizations in places far beyond the national boundaries. This means that sometimes to combat local crime multilevel interventions must be in place, and actions cannot be restricted to geographical boundaries.

We believe that to tackle crime today we need coordinated actions of multiple societal stakeholders working towards collaborative frameworks to prevent crime and promote safety. Although the police have long worked reactively and proactively with the situational conditions of crime, the police are no longer the single actor responsible for policing. Policing is here taken as a broader concept that include more than the police, often with the involvement of multiple actors, public and private ones, and citizens, all aimed at safety governance. It is among this constellation of actors that the Safeplaces network has a role to play.