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Safety inMaastricht

Physical quality

Social quality relates to the ‘resilience’ and ‘vitality’ of the neighbourhood, which are largely determined by ‘interhuman relationships’. Examples of these relationships include the involvement of residents, the quality of social networks, and informal social control.

Police figures
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 1st half year
Vandalism of property - Total 1073 999 766 594 673 729 334
Vandalism of inside or outside of cars 512 511 390 287 310 310 146
Vandalism of inside or outside of public transport or shelters 7 4 6 2 1 2 7
Vandalism of inside or outside public buildings 6 8 19 5 4 11 4
Vandalism of other structures 543 474 345 299 356 404 177
Street violence against property 5 2 6 1 2 2 0
Nuisance - Total 204 62 84 102 126 173 40
Letting off fireworks 184 39 51 49 77 120 16
Nuisance caused by smell, smoke, or dust 20 23 33 53 49 53 24
Safety monitor
2014 2015 2016 2017 2019
Physical facilities in neighbourhood - scale score [score] 5.8 5.8 5.9 5.8 6.0
% Graffiti: great nuisance [%] 4.7 2.9 1.2 3.1 2.3
% Litter: great nuisance [%] 11.2 10.5 9 10.6 10.1
% Dog fouling: great nuisance [%] 25.1 24.2 20.9 22.4 22.0
% Vandalism of street furniture: great nuisance [%] 4.2 3.6 2.5 3.2 3.5
Physical decay [%] 31.4 30.9 27.8 28 27.6

The physical quality of a neighbourhood, district or centre is determined by its physical characteristics, in particular the layout, maintenance, and management of its public spaces.

The quantitative and qualitative depictions reveal that there is a need for better maintenance and management of public spaces. Fly-tipping, litter, dog fouling, speeding vehicles, and parking problems cause great nuisance.

A decline in the physical quality is conducive to subversive crime and nuisance and, consequently, to the associated feelings of insecurity. Pursuant to the Broken Windows theory of the US scientists Wilson & Kelling (1982), decay can lead to more serious forms of crime. As this theory regards social and physical disorder as the precursors of crime, tackling nuisance and petty offences (vandalism, graffiti, urination in public, public drunkenness, and dog fouling) can then curb more serious forms of crime. The residents of a neighbourhood in which the forms of nuisance or number of offences are no longer acceptable will feel insecure in their surroundings.

Social resilience is impaired once nuisance in the surroundings rises to a level that is unacceptable for the neighbourhood. The residents become apprehensive and are no longer prepared to call each other to account. They gain the impression that nobody cares and that, consequently, misbehaviour is acceptable in the neighbourhood — which in turn attracts crime. The strength lies in tackling nuisance and petty and more serious offences with the goal of halting decay so that the neighbourhood’s social resilience can recover. The objective is to respond to nuisance and offences in a manner such that the neighbourhood remains in balance and stays or becomes socially resilient. Although this theory has had some criticism over the years, it has remained popular with policy-makers.

Wilson, J.Q. & Kelling, G.L. (1982), Broken Windows. The police and neighborhood safety, Atlantic Monthly (March), 29-38 Weblink