There are now hundreds of ‘safe community’ and ‘community safety’ initiatives at the local level across the world, but there is no consensus on what these terms actually connote. In the UK, for instance, community safety is defined as a positive outcome of crime prevention, ‘an aspect of quality of life in which people, individually and collectively, are protected as far as possible from hazards or threats that result from the criminal or anti-social behaviour of others, and are equipped or helped to cope with those they do experience’ (Community Safety Advisory Service, 2007). All local authorities in England and Wales were mandated as of 1998 to develop Community Safety Partnerships, although the name of these initiatives in England was latterly changed to Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships. The International Centre for the Prevention of Crime also defines community safety as a more positive way of conceptualizing crime prevention, noting an international policy shift from ‘the relatively narrow focus on crime prevention to the broader issue of community safety and security as a public good’ (Shaw, 2001a, piii, italics in original). These definitions focus on intentional injury, assuming that a threat to people’s safety comes from a conscious or voluntary act by a victimizer. In contrast, the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Community Safety, based in the Karolinska Institute in Sweden for over 20 years, defines community safety as all injury prevention, including intentional injuries such as violence, crime and suicide, as well as unintentional injuries, such as traffic and other accidents, fires and natural disasters, ‘where the leading role is played by the community itself ’ (WHO Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion, 2007). Over 50 local governments throughout the world are accredited as ‘safe communities’ according to this classification. These contrasting understandings of community safety, whether it is equivalent to the prevention of crime and insecurity, or whether
it encompasses all injury prevention, have a very small area of overlap: violent crime. Property crimes, traffic accidents, suicide and self-harming behaviour, and protection from natural disaster, are excluded from one definition or the other.