Physical, economic, political and cultural security is perceived as dependent upon the individual's ability to provide it. This self-centredness, while an effective refuge in the midst of changing times, is yet a very weak basis on which to build social cooperation. Public participation in community projects is substantially reduced, giving the neighbourhood a false image of apathy, while various self-interests within the community feed on the fear of the residents. Without steps to control violent activity in the streets, and to promote a sense of neighbourhood trust and self-reliance, urban communities cannot experience the neighbourhood as a human space for living.
Some problems indigenous to large inner-city neighbourhoods are: a high incidence of drug traffic and addiction resulting in theft; parents and children afraid to use play areas where violent and asocial behaviour occurs; high costs of security measures for business and industry causing some businesses to move and preventing new ones from coming in; stores remaining virtually unstocked because of continual theft; and hazards particularly for children in the traffic patterns of trucks from large industries, unchecked by traffic control signs or the enforcement of local ordinances.
The anonymity of many inner city communities has created an atmosphere of isolation which enhances the possibility of crime, and at the same time increases the obstacles to crime prevention. For security measures, citizens have found it necessary to put multiple locks on their doors, conceal fire arms in their homes and places of business and be suspicious of even their own neighbours. Systems of community-wide security have collapsed and there is little intra-neighbourhood support for the few cooperative efforts to prevent property thefts and personal violations. The prevailing sense of hopelessness and fear perpetuates an atmosphere of ambivalence in which crime goes unreported, insecure situations which are not of immediate threat to personal welfare are ignored, and simple property watch between neighbours is no longer trusted. This condition is compounded by incidents in which individuals who report crimes are threatened with retaliation, while others are tempted to participate in pay-offs for personal protection. The tendency for crime to become acceptable behaviour increases.