Environmental design in crime prevention

Environmental design in crime prevention (CPTED) is an approach that is multi disciplinary in preventing criminal behaviors. The CPTED strategies depend on the ability of influencing the decisions of various offenders. The decisions mostly influenced are those that come before the offender commits a crime. Thus, the decision of the offender is influenced in such a manner that the person alters his or her intentions about committing the intended crime.

As of the year 2004, majority of the CPTED implementations occurred only in built environment. CPTED was initially formulated and coined as the appropriate plan and effective utilization of built environment. It is capable of leading to a decrease in incidences of crime and fear arising from criminal activities and lead to improved life quality (CPTED-Watch. com, 2006). Environmental design in crime deterrence Crime has become the order of the day in the new world which is very unfortunate.

Most previous discussions regarding crime have mostly been focused on arresting and punishing the criminal offenders instead of emphasizing on the more efficient and effective means of reducing crime which is taking preventive measures. However, in the last two decades, architects and designers started appreciating the need of building and planning with more aspect in mind instead of just focusing on the well known threats such as hurricanes and earthquakes which are natural. They had begun considering the crime threat (NICP, Inc.

, 2009). The use of environmental approach to prevent crime has in the past few years proved more effective and efficient as compared to locking doors with dead bolts and closing the windows with locks. The principles of environmental design in crime prevention can be used less expensively and easily to remodeling or rebuilding. These principles are being implemented in societies across several countries. Tremendous results have been achieved from the use of these principles in some societies which have adopted CPTED principles.

The levels of criminal activities have reduced by more than forty percent (Fennelly, 2003). There are mainly four strategies that guide CPTED; the first strategy is known as the natural surveillance. This is a concept of design which is mainly aimed at keeping potential offenders away. The concept is usually enhanced by features which make best use of building entrances, parking areas and peoples’ visibility. The windows and doors of the buildings are installed in such a manner that is possible to see the parking areas and streets clearly.

This enables the residents to easily watch their neighborhood which makes them to spot any irregularity quite easily and at the same time makes the potential offenders fearful as they know that someone could be watching them without their knowledge. This concept also makes use of adequate lighting of all streets, sidewalks, front coaches and pedestrian paths, especially during the night. The lighting strategy has proved very efficient and effective since virtually all criminals opt operating in dark areas, thus when light is introduced, they are kept at a distance (Fennelly, 2003).

The second strategy is the territorial reinforcement. This is a physical design which extends or creates an influence sphere. The users are in turn in a position of developing a territorial sense of control. The potential intruders’ views this control as a force which repels them away from such areas, and they are thus discouraged from intruding such areas. This approach is enhanced by use of certain features which clearly define various properties in an area. The property lines effectively distinguish between the public spaces and the private spaces.

These property lines utilize CPTED fences, gateway treatments, pavement designs and landscape plantings. All these act as barriers preventing the intruders from gaining access to various private properties in the pretence that it is public property. The potential intruders who eventually are the ones responsible of committing various criminal activities are shielded away from several private and public properties and hence their chances of committing crimes are much reduced. This approach therefore, makes neighborhoods to be safer and the residents to live in less fear of being attacked by the criminals.

It has therefore acted as a very effective tool in preventing crime rather than waiting for crime to take place and then arrest and punish the offender which might not be very effective as the offender may not be caught despite the fact that the victim has already suffered loss (Fennelly, 2003). Natural right of entry control is the third strategy of CPTED. This design concept is mainly aimed at reducing opportunities of committing crimes. It operates by denying admission to targets of crime and also making offenders perceive such areas as risky ones where they are likely to be caught easily and thus shy away from them.

The concept is gained through designing neighborhood gateways, building entrances, sidewalks and streets in such a manner that it is easy to differentiate between the public routes and the private ones. Such designs discourage potential offenders from accessing areas which are private pretending that they are public areas where they should not be restricted. This concept acts as a means of denying the potential offenders the right of accessing private areas and thus they can easily be made answerable if caught in such areas even before they are in a position of committing their intended crimes.

Criminals will avoid such places since they make them feel uncomfortable right from the moment they enter into such areas and thus their probability of committing their intended crimes is very much reduced (CPTED-Watch. com, 2006). Finally, CPTED makes use of target hardening as it’s forth strategy. This strategy is a hybrid of the traditional ways of curbing crime and use of environmental design to reduce criminal activities. This strategy is gained through features that are used to prohibit access or entry. Such include locking windows, using locks, closing doors using dead bolts and fixing hinges to the interior doors.

These are aimed at making it difficult for the intruder to gain access to the property even after finally getting to it. The intruder has to struggle in order to eventually get into the protected property. They therefore, spend a lot of time while trying to struggle. This discourages them as they prefer committing their criminal activities in properties that are less protected in which they are likely to spend less time so as to reduce their operation time and thus reduce their probability of being caught at the scene (Jeffery, 1971).

The above strategies that are applicable in CPTED are mainly focused on the ability to influence the decision of potential offenders before they can commit a criminal activity. They influence the offender in such a manner that makes them to alter their decisions. Various research works that have been carried out in behaviors of criminals reveal that the decision of whether to commit a crime or not is highly influenced by the risk that the offender perceives in terms of the probability of being caught, ease of access and the reward of the criminal activity.

CPTED has thus based its strategies in line with such research works. CPTED therefore lays more emphasis on enhancing the offender’s perceived risk of being detected, arrested and punished (NICP, Inc. , 2009). The strategies of CPTED are highly successful in circumstances when the final user is less inconvenienced and in situations when the process of environment design depends on the efforts of land managers, environmental designers, professionals of law enforcement and community activists.

When it comes to the question of effectiveness, CPTED effectiveness can mainly be measured in terms of how much it has deterred potential offenders from committing various criminal activities which they had intended to commit. In this case, the CPTED can be considered to be very successful as it has prevented several people from committing various criminal acts. This has resulted to increased safety as less people are willing to commit crimes in areas that are applying the environmental design to prevent crime (Malinchak, 1980). Conclusion

Preventing crime through the application of environment design ensures that officers mandated with enforcing law, city planners, architects, interior and landscape designers, residents and all the security stakeholders create a safety climate within the society from the start to the end. The objectives of CPTED is that of preventing crime by designing the entire physical environment in a manner that influences the behavior of human beings in a positive manner. The members of society using such areas view them to be safe as criminal are kept away. Reference:

CPTED-Watch. com (2006): CPTED Crime Prevention, Retrieved on 5th August 2009 from http://www. cpted-watch. com/. Fennelly, L. J. (2003): Handbook of loss prevention and crime prevention, ISBN 0750674539, Butterworth-Heinemann. Jeffery, C. R. (1971): Crime prevention through environmental design, ISBN 0803900864, Sage Publications. Malinchak, A. A. (1980): Crime and gerontology, ISBN 0131928155, Prentice-Hall. NICP, Inc. (2009): Basic Crime Prevention through Environmental Design, Retrieved on 5th August 2009 from http://www. cptedtraining. net/.