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
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