Ethics, Crime Prevention, and the City

Navn på bevillingshaver

thomas søbirk Petersen


Roskilde University


DKK 1,029,128




Monograph Fellowships


This project is about the ethics of crime preventive measures that fall under the concept of situational crime prevention (SCP). SCP is, roughly speaking, an attempt to steer people's behaviour by reducing their opportunities for criminal conduct through the management or design of the immediate (e.g. urban) environment in which these crimes often occur. For example, to what extent is it ethically acceptable to exclude certain people and certain behaviours in the public sphere? And more precisely, when is it, for example, ethically acceptable to establish gated communities in order to prevent crime? Is it ethically acceptable to try to prevent crime by excluding people with prior convictions from housing in certain areas or restrict their access to certain city zones?


While detailed analysis has been conducted on the ethics of punishment as crime prevention and other kinds of crime prevention, little scholarly work has been done on ethical analysis of SCP practices. SITE wants to close that research gap.


In critically discussing the moral principles and values at play in arguments for and against the use of SCP, the project will make use of John Rawls' methodology of 'reflective equilibrium' (Rawls 1999). The use of reflective equilibrium is standard for ethical analysis. It follows from this methodology that we have a reason to accept moral intuitions and moral principles if they enter into a coherent system with each other and with relevant background theories - theories which, in the present context, will include theories and data from criminology, law and economics. The material analysed will mainly be from the international research literature conducted by scholars from e.g. criminology. Policy rapports from governments and NGOs' views on the use of SCP will also be taken into account

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