Community Safety and the Environment

Community Safety and the Environment


Spain / United Kingdom


The project involves students at Coventry University and the University of Malaga working in collaboration around the principles and practice of community safety as a global crime management strategy. Community safety is about real issues that affect real communities, but it would be impractical and to some extent unethical to invade the lives of people by studying a real community. Therefore, this project uses simulation in the form of a fictitious dysfunctional neighbourhood called Starley Cross in a three-dimensional virtual environment which forms the basis of the work students undertake on the project. Teaching and learning takes a student-centred approach involving role play whereby students work in small groups, each representing a community safety partnership, and each member of the group assumes the role of specialist in a particular field of community safety. The ultimate aim is for students to not only develop subject-specific knowledge in cross-cultural settings but also transferable skills of powers of enquiry, problem solving, team working and cross-cultural collaboration, entrepreneurship and professionalism.

Aims of the project

  • To enable students to critically define and outline the meaning and scope of community safety in relation to its legislative and policy framework in different cultural settings
  • To enable students to demonstrate a critical awareness of the application of social and spatial crime prevention strategies in local, national and global contexts
  • To introduce students to role play in order to  encourage  professionalism as well as academic rigour in their work
  • To facilitate the application of theory to practice in different cultural settings


Students participating in the project engage in the following activities:

  • Formal presentation of the identification, analysis and interpretation of neighbourhood dysfunction;
  • Literature review relating to key issues identified in the neighbourhood;
  • Discussion of responses to briefs relating to key crime prevention approaches applied in addressing the neighbourhood problems.


State 1: Role play of professional community safety teams in immersive virtual neighbourhood.

Stage 2: Online discussion and debate relating to analysis of problems and production and evaluation of solutions in the different cultural settings.

Online environment

The virtual neighbourhood was developed by Sean Graham (CELE) using a software for games creation called Unity and based on a fictitious urban layout designed by Graham Steventon. Development is ongoing and students at both universities provided suggestions of improvements. Some of those have already been implemented by Tsvetan Tsankov (Computer Science student on a placement in CELE) , such as a day and night cycle in which 24 hours is represented in 24 minutes. The street lights come on at dusk and go off at dawn, and the user can switch on a torch to explore unlit areas.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 16.19.45


CU context

Course: BA Criminology,
Module: Community Safety and the Environment (level 2)
Number of students: 65