Careers Advice: Learning skills to help crime reduction

Written by: Jon Cole
Published on: 21 Aug 2017

Secure by design

Secured by Design (SBD), the national police crime prevention initiative, seeks to achieve sustainable reductions in crime through design and other approaches to enable people to live in a safer society. There are a number of reasons how and why planners should work with police as part of their work in assessing and proposing development schemes.

Planning and crime prevention

The importance of local authority planners and specialist officers from the police service working together on counter-terrorist and crime prevention security has never been greater. Only this summer, the government reminded local authorities of their obligations under the National Planning Policy Framework to ensure their policies and decisions ‘aim to create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion’.

How you can get involved with police

All police forces around the country have specially trained officers and staff to work with local authority planners as well as architects and developers at the drawing board stage to ‘design out crime’ in many development sectors including housing, commercial, retail, mixed-use, transport, health, education, leisure and others. These officers are known as Designing Out Crime Officers, Architectural Liaison Officers, Crime Prevention Design Advisors or equivalent. The SBD website has a national list of contacts:

Working with the police

If you don’t already have a working relationship with your local officer, then make contact and invite them in to talk about how you can work together. The better and stronger this relationship, the better it will be for your local communities. You will need to discuss the built environment in terms of maximising surveillance, limiting through movement and creating defensible space as well as improving building security.

The built environment

Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a way of reducing crime through the design and manipulation of the built environment at the planning stage. It boils down to potential offenders looking for ‘suitable targets’ and the absence of ‘secure guardians’ whilst CPTED uses design and layout to increase the perception of risk for offenders and block those opportunities. It is useful for planners to be aware of some key points related to CPTED.

Maximising surveillance and limiting through movement

For example, to increase surveillance, dwellings should be positioned facing each other to allow residents to easily view who is around. Through-movement gives legitimacy so access should be limited to defined areas or routes to avoid excessive permeability. Burglars like to work unseen and would be looking for a different way out to avoid being challenged and are likely to regard an alleyway as a convenient escape route.

Creating defensible space

Measures to limit access to residents and their legitimate visitors, could include rumble strips, change of road surface by colour or texture, pillars, brick piers or narrowing of the entrance. Burglars wouldn’t want to come into an area where people clearly take pride in where they live and where it feels like residents know each other.

Physical security of buildings

SBD encourages manufacturers to achieve Police Preferred Specification on products such as external doors, accessible windows, rooflights and locks. This standard requires independent third-party certification to ensure regular production audits and re-testing and goes beyond the one-off testing required by the building regulations.

Benefits for local communities

Incorporating crime prevention techniques into the built environment and building security can reduce crimes like burglary by up to 75 per cent on new build developments and by up to 63 per cent on refurbishments, academic research has shown. Reducing crime and improving safety can lead to increased resident satisfaction and lower maintenance costs.

Jon Cole is chief operating officer at Secured By Design