Crime Prevention Through Urban Design

Crime Prevention Through Urban Design (CPTUD) influences the design of crime free cities, with the aid of practical examples, Evaluate the usefulness of this concept in urban design.

Crime Prevention Through Urban Design is a crime prevention philosophy based on good design and effective use of the built environment leading to a reduction both in the fear and incidence of crime, as well as an improvement in the quality of life , (Crowe,1991). The main of CPTUD is to reduce crime and fear by reducing criminal opportunity and encouraging positive social interaction among the members of the society. It mainly focuses on prevention rather than apprehension and punishment. Crime Prevention Through Urban Design has a number of concepts and strategies which include; Natural surveillance, territorial reinforcement, natural access control and finally target hardening , these strategies promote social control. According to the Office of Crime Prevention (2006),in communities where this philosophy has been implemented, criminal activity has decreased by as much as 40 percent which is generally exceptional.
However, CPTUD strategies are most successful when they inconvenience the end user the least and when the CPTUD design process relies upon the combined efforts of environmental designers, land managers, community activists, and law enforcement professionals ,Saville(1995). In terms of effectiveness, a more accurate title for the strategy would be crime deterrence through environmental design. Research demonstrates that offenders cannot be literally prevented from committing crimes by using CPTUD, Robinson,(1996) . CPTUD relies upon changes to the physical environment that will cause an offender to make certain behavioral decisions. Those changes are crafted so as to encourage behavior, and thus they deter rather than conclusively “prevent” behavior. This essay, seeks to outline the usefulness of this concept in urban design.
Firstly, according to Newman’s (1972) research for the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the late 1960s included a 2, 740-unit public housing high rise development, Pruitt-Igoe, which never achieved more than 60% occupancy and was torn down about 10 years after its construction at a loss of $300 million, because it had rampant crime. Across the street, an older, smaller row-house complex, Carr Square Village, occupied by an identical population, was fully occupied and free of crime during and after the construction, occupancy, and demolition of Pruitt-Igoe. Newman’s research regarding multiple communities, including Pruitt-Igoe, into what caused these differences in crime resulted in a new, but related, term of defensible space. This concept of ownership as a deterrent to crime has been accepted by professionals in the field and incorporated into the current widely accepted CPTED definition by Jeffrey and the associated CPTED principles and has been useful.
Secondly, natural surveillance concept is directed primarily at discouraging criminal activity by ensuring that public spaces are easily observable, Crowe, (2000). While formal surveillance techniques may involve hidden cameras and security personnel, physical features that maximize visibility of people, parking areas and building entrances can be just as effective. Examples include: doors and windows that look out on to streets and parking areas; sidewalks and streets that are open and inviting to pedestrians; unobstructed sight-lines; open design concepts that do not create hidden spaces; front porches and activity areas in front of buildings to encourage a visual connection with the street; and adequate night-time lighting. The overall sense of safety improves when people can easily see others and be seen. With proper use of natural surveillance, formal surveillance may only be necessary in vulnerable locations such as elevators and interior corridors. This reduced crime in In Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Phoenix Project resulted in a 75% decline in crime, the lowest since 1972, by controlling street drug trafficking with the use of natural surveillance.
Thirdly, the historical basis of territorial reinforcement lies in the need to defend an environment against attack. Physical design can create or extend a sphere of influence. Users then develop a sense of territorial control, while potential offenders, perceiving this control, are discouraged. This strategy is promoted by features that define property lines and distinguish private spaces from public spaces, Crowe, (2000). Ways of doing this include use of landscape plantings, pavement designs, gateway treatments, and fences which create boundaries without compromising natural surveillance. It is further enhanced by a sense of pride or ownership, which is demonstrated by the way in which a space is cared for or maintained. By contrast, poorly maintained areas offer an invitation to criminal activity. This was done in Knoxville, Tennessee, police, traffic engineers, public works officials, and residents participated in territorial reinforcement and its implementation to address drug trafficking and excessive vehicle traffic in residential areas. This managed to reduce the rate of crime.

More to that, there is natural access control which is a design concept directed primarily at decreasing crime opportunities by discouraging access to crime targets and creating a perception of risk to offenders (Robinson, 1996). This is a logical extension of the idea of territorial reinforcement. It is gained by designing streets, sidewalks, building entrances and neighbourhood gateways to clearly indicate public routes, and by discouraging access to private areas with structural elements. There are positive ways to achieve this without creating fortresses with walls and gates. In Sarasota, Florida, a successful plan to reduce crime in one neighborhood resulted in the integration of natural access control into the local planning process for all development and redevelopment in that city. This was useful as it saw the reduction of crime rates.
Moreover, there is legibility this concept is increasingly important in urban design and CPTUD. An urban environment is said to be legible if it is designed in ways that allow people in it easily to know where they are and how to get to where they are going. It is not confusing and does not easily get people lost, thus easy navigation. Legibility is therefore about way-finding and about confidence. While this is important for those travelling in vehicles, it is a particularly important CPTUD quality for pedestrians and cyclists in that people can see which are the important or appropriate routes to take ,they can tell which are the desirable or likely places for the services they seek or most likely to be frequented by others , they are less likely to become lost and wander into out the way places less likely to be overlooked , they are therefore likely to be more confident and assured and less stressed, and they are therefore more likely to be observant of what is happening around them than if preoccupied with their being lost or stressed. The aim is to put the individual in control so that it’s easy for the individual to escape in case of danger or emergency. In Cincinnati, Ohio, legibility has resulted in a 12 to 13% decline in crime in the first three successive years after the plan was implemented.
In addition, there is maintenance, the characteristics of an environment that express ownership of the property. Deterioration of a property indicates less ownership involvement which can result in more vandalism, also known as the Broken Window Theory. If a window is broken and remains unfixed for a length of time, vandals will break more windows. Crime is more prevalent in areas that are not maintained. This was implemented in certain communities in the United States and Canada and an there has been an average of 15-100% reduction of drug sales, house break-ins and other crimes .
Lastly, there is target hardening, this is the last resort to resist crime by increasing physical security and is a more recognizable, traditional way to discourage crime. Target hardening is accomplished by features that prohibit entry or access such as: window locks, dead bolts for doors, and interior door hinges. This method of crime prevention is most effective when combined with the strategies identified above, so as to achieve a balanced approach. Basically for any of the strategies mentioned above to be effective they have to be combined. This has resulted in the reduction of molestation crimes among school children in Glasgow.

However, there are instance when CPTUD is not that useful mainly due to obstacles like lack of knowledge of CPTUD by environmental designers, land managers, and individual community members, resistance to change and that many existing built areas were not designed with CPTUD in mind, and modification would be expensive, politically difficult, or require significant changes in some areas of the existing built environment. On the same note there are other strategies which can be implemented other that CPTUD to achieve the same aim for example helping ex-offenders find secure living-wage employment.
In conclusion, CPTUD strategies are most successful when they inconvenience the end user the least and when the CPTUD design process relies upon the combined efforts of environmental designers, land managers, community activists, and law enforcement professionals. In terms of effectiveness, a more accurate title for the strategy would be crime deterrence through environmental design. Research demonstrates that offenders cannot be literally prevented from committing crimes by using CPTUD, it also encourages behavior change, and thus they deter rather than conclusively prevent crime.