Designing out crime

The risk of crime can be reduced through careful design, ensuring that homes and public spaces are visible, making it harder for people to commit crime without being seen.

Hanwell stationThroughout the 1990s many designers and crime prevention practitionersGlossary: are people engaged in an occupation or profession that is involved in planning and delivering settlements developed guidelines to help reduce the risk of crime in neighbourhoods. The general principles behind this are to create an environment where informal but effective community surveillance takes place naturally through the use of:

  • Natural surveillance
  • Defensible space
  • Community interaction
  • Crime prevention

Secured by Design has specific guidance for new homes.

People need to feel comfortable in public spaces to ensure they remain well used, making it harder for people to commit crime undetected. Alleyways and car parks should be visible from streets or from buildings. Houses themselves should have carefully positioned windows and doors to ensure that any potential break-ins could be seen by other people.

Once a community has been built it is important that the quality of public space is maintained to avoid 'broken window syndrome' - a way of describing what can happen when people's perceptions of an area diminish and an environment begins to deteriorate and decline, leading to crime and anti-social behaviour. This is an important reason to ensure that any new community is built with a plan for long-term stewardshipGlossary: refers, in this context, to the ongoing process of managing, maintaining and tending a community in place.

Further Reading

Secure by Design: New Homes, ACPO Crime Prevention Initiatives Ltd (2007)

Equally Spaced?, Demos (2007)