Background Violence is preventable, and land use strategies can enhance community safety. A growing evidence base, grounded in research and community practice, describes the factors that affect the likelihood of violence. Many of these factors are impacted by how land is used, by whom and for what purposes. Even though community safety is essential for a thriving neighbourhood, land use decisions are rarely made with violence prevention in mind and have historically done great harm to communities of colour and low-income groups. Too often, contemporary land use decisions criminalise behaviour when they could expand access and opportunities instead. Reframing the issue to focus on preventing violence rather than crime and incorporating a greater focus on safety in land use decisions holds immense promise for increasing community safety.
Objective This session explores the relationship between land use and community safety as an emerging topic in research and practice and delineates the roles of multiple sectors in enhancing safety.
Results Land use decisions across diverse sectors can have transformative impacts on community health and practitioners and researchers are searching for ways to think more deeply about these connexions. The Spectrum of Prevention, a signature Prevention Institute tool for developing comprehensive community health strategies, offers a framework to develop mutually-reinforcing strategies across levels ranging from policy and legislation to individual knowledge and skills. These recommendations offer the opportunity to shift norms around land use and community safety and build capacity among practitioners and researchers to make land use decisions that help prevent violence before it occurs.
Conclusions Land use decisions made with community safety as an explicit desired outcome can prevent violence, transform and revitalise public spaces, expand opportunities, and foster connexion and hope within communities.
- Violence prevention
- community safety
- land use
- multi-sector engagement
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