If you have an environment where the vegetation is thick and it’s easy to hide – where it’s dark at night and the shadows are deep – where there is no clear path to follow – where no windows or balconies allow people to watch over the area – where it feels abandoned and where graffiti and decay are allowed to rule, you are in a place that is ripe for crime.
Much of the crime in our community is opportunistic. People who are prone to commit crime are generally rational. They will quickly identify places where they can offend with little chance of identification or capture. They will frequent these places - waiting for an unsuspecting person to walk by - or in the dark and hidden places, see opportunities to break into homes and building with little risk.
It is easy to recognize these places. You walk past a dark ally in the city and the hair on the back of your neck rises. A deserted park or a rundown reserve gives you that anxious creepy feeling – you think you hear noises, you can’t wait to leave.
And you do. These public places belong to the community – not criminals. A good dose of thoughtful environmental design can make these areas safe and once again useful to everyone.
CPTED – the strategy
Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a strategy that aims to reduce crime by designing the built environment according to a set of guidelines.
CPTED is based on the principle that a large number of crimes are guided by rational thought. Applying CPTED methods aims to discourage offenders by maximising the risk and effort of committing a crime - while minimising the benefits and opportunities of committing that crime.
CPTED largely focuses on the opportunistic criminal (people make an assessment of risk and determine if they will get away with it - passively deterring crime as its not worth the risk or there is not enough reward)
5 key strategies:
- territorial re-enforcement – distinguishing private and public spaces, and encouraging community ownership of public areas. This means encouraging positive user groups who discourage negative/anti social groups - making it clear where you should be so you don’t find yourself in the wrong location
- surveillance – increasing the opportunity for seeing and being seen. Natural surveillance discourages anti social behavior/criminal behavior as criminals feel they are more likely to be seen and caught
- access control – using physical and symbolic markers to restrict and encourage movement
- space/activity management – creating formal uses for spaces to ensure maximum usage
- Environmental Maintenance – urban decay and poor maintenance give the impression of neglect and that no one is watching.
CPTED – do I need a CPTED report?
Increasingly, some development applications (generally for large high risk developments) are required to include a Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) or Safer by Design Report. Your local council or a town planning consultant will be able to tell you.
CPTED - The Design Partnership APPROACH
The Design Partnership TDP is not only able to carry out a CPTED assessment of your project, but as urban planners and architects, we can design or re-design your project to minimize criminal activity.
Our designs and proposals may feature:
- better placement of windows, doorways and balconies to maximize surveillance by local residents and the public
- street and pathway layouts that minimize those out-of-the-way places criminals look for
- landscaping recommendations that improve line-of-sight and eliminate the creation of hidden pockets
- anti-graffiti surfaces and graffiti removal management regimes to eliminate the signals of neglect and which take away the gratification craved by graffiti vandals
- recommendations on the type and placement of lighting fixtures that are hard to damage and which fight the shadows that comfort criminals
- safer locations for change rooms and public toilets – particularly in out-of-the-way parks and reserves
- location and design of public shelters that encourage greater use by the community – while dissuading their occupation by anti-social individuals
- way finding signage that provides unambiguous directions and which reassures the public they are in the right place
- street furniture design and placement that dissuades occupation by antisocial individuals and groups – particularly at night
- opportunities and recommendations for nighttime place activation by business and the community.
CPTED - including evaluation, reporting and design - is a core component of all placemaking projects we undertake.
TDP'S CPTED experience
We have undertaken training with the NSW Police force.
We can help introduce a feeling a comfort and safety - leading to increased use of an area. That means more people, more eyes and more activity – forcing opportunistic criminals to look elsewhere.
Work Smart - Work Safer
The CPTED concept goes back to early work in Chicago during the 1960’s. Unfortunately, this work went largely ignored around the World.
In Australia, it wasn’t until the release of the Guidelines under section 79C of the (NSW) Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, that local authorities slowly began to be more concerned with this vital aspect of urban design.
If you’ve paid for construction plans, or already have an environment that provides the enticements that criminals look for, a CPTED assessment will identify where you may have problems. If construction has already occurred, you may need to bear the cost of remedial work - if CPTED is part of your development approval.
A wiser course of action is to incorporate CPTED design principles right into your design at the very start - preempting the need for costly corrective action.