By Devin MacAulay
CPTED Review Committee Co-Chair
For the past two years, the City of North Battleford Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Review Committee has been placing significant emphasis on the importance of getting neighbours to host block parties. Over this time, I have had people approach me and ask, “Why is this important to the city?”
The reality is there are lots of answers as to why such an initiative is important, but the answer I most commonly offer is that they provide a method for neighbours to get together and interact. I can tell that sometimes my answer appears to be too simplistic, which often leads to the inevitable question of why promote block parties then? There must be other methods that could be promoted to achieve the same results. This is true – block parties are not the only way for you to get to know your neighbours. In fact, getting to know your neighbour could be as simple as walking down the street and striking up conversations. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be common practice.
To provide a bit of information on what exactly CPTED is – CPTED can be succinctly broken down into two distinct areas of thought. The first generation CPTED principles are focused on reducing the opportunity for crime to exist through the physical modification of public and private space. The second generation CPTED principles promote the idea of community and neighbourliness to help prevent crime. It’s the second-generation principles that are the focal point of initiatives such as supporting block parties. One of the key areas in the second generation is “social cohesion,” which essentially speaks to establishing and supporting relationships between residents and forming the social glue that keeps a neighbourhood the place you want to live.
As we all detach from our neighbourhoods and focus on our digital lives, our social cohesion becomes very low, and, we lose the sense of place that we all long for. There have been numerous studies that look at the effects of a disconnected neighbourhood and level of crime. The studies nearly unanimously show a correlation between the more disengaged a neighbourhood is, the more likely it is to become a place where criminal activity occurs. It is for this reason that the City of North Battleford’s CPTED Review Committee has taken a great interest in this topic.
Once you know your neighbours it begins to pay dividends almost immediately. When a neighbour knows you, they are far more likely to keep an eye on your property and alert the authorities if they see anything that is suspicious; which becomes particularly important if you’re someone who travels often. In return, you provide the same courtesies to them, making your neighbourhood safer, and more pleasant to live in.
We live in a digital world that tends to place more emphasis on creating and maintaining relationships with people online, as opposed to interacting face-to-face with those in the world around you. This is not something that is unique to North Battleford, but the results of disconnecting from your surrounding world is worrying. To combat this isolation, we emphasize the idea of hosting small events, to get people out of their houses and interacting with each other. So, if you didn’t having a block party on Block Party Weekend (June 9 to 11) try to make a point of getting to know the people you live around – you never know, you may just like them! Remember – the safest neighbourhoods in the world are ones where neighbours know each other, care about each other, and look out for each other.