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Encyclopedia Entry

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Encyclopedia of Criminological Theory


The concept of “defensible space” was first explicated by Oscar Newman in a 1972 book by the same title. The concept, which contains elements of a theory of crime as well as a set of urban design principles, became popular in the 1970s as urban crime problems continued to rise. Defensible space was discussed, utilized, and critiqued widely by criminologists and other social scientists, as well as urban planners, law enforcement officials, and architects.

The design concepts have also been implemented in numerous communities in the United States and around the world. Later works by Newman, including Community of Interest and Creating Defensible Space provide further elaboration of his ideas.

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Original citation: Encyclopedia of Criminological Theory, Frank Cullen and Pamela Wilcox, eds. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing (2010).


Sage Publishing

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Thousand Oaks, CA

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