Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Research shows that criminal behaviour can be influenced by the ‘design’ of our physical environment. Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a crime prevention strategy that uses this knowledge to design (or redesign), maintain, and manage the physical environment of a property or area in a way that reduces opportunities for criminal activity.

The four principles of CPTED that can be used in your neighbourhood to help prevent and reduce crime are:

1. Surveillance: This principle is about maximising visibility. It focuses on assisting natural surveillance and eliminating isolated areas. Increasing the likelihood of a potential offender being seen deters crime. Good lighting and well placed/maintained vegetation are key. For example, windows and doors are ideally installed in locations that allow users to see and be seen (this mean potential intruders will feel seen and be seen too), and trees and fences should be placed and trimmed so as not to obscure visibility or provide hiding places.

2. Access management: This principle utilises doors, shrubs, fences, gates, and other physical design elements to discourage access to an area by everyone except its intended users. It includes putting furniture and equipment away so that it can’t be used to access windows, doors or openings that shouldn’t otherwise be accessed. Another example is installing bollards on the pavement to prevent vehicle ram raids.

3. Territorial reinforcement: This principle focuses on making clear boundaries between private and public spaces. It utilises markers such as signs, fences, and landscaping to help inform people about the ownership and function of an area. This helps increase the perception of risk for potential offenders, by making them feel conspicuous and increasing the likelihood that someone will intervene if necessary. For example, strangers should not feel comfortable going onto your property or using it as a shortcut.

4. Quality environments: This principle is about maintaining the physical environment so that it is attractive and supports surveillance. It includes the prevention of visual deterioration such as litter and graffiti. If left unchecked this type of deterioration sends out inviting messages to offenders. It includes using activities to draw people into an area in order to make it safer. A good example is establishing clusters of inner city cafés and restaurants that attract large numbers of people back into areas of cities that were once considered unsafe.

Thinking about and applying CPTED principles in your neighbourhood can help to reduce the fear and incidence of crime while improving the quality of life for you and your community.

Download PDF Info Sheet

Download PDF Info Sheet

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