By Leon Harris CPP
Published in INsite, August/September 2001
In the June publication I touched on the issues of fencing, landscaping and lighting as part of the relationship between architecture and crime prevention. In this edition I want to push the envelope even further.
A sigh of relief can be heard across the country from those facility operators who have gained accreditation. Many have started preparing for the next round whilst also ensuring their facilities meet the Certification Guidelines, which includes security.
New South Wales operators need to be aware that under the Guidelines to Section 79C of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW), there is a crime prevention model that needs to be applied to any proposed development, or the re-development of existing facilities.
These Guidelines were released in April, 2001. They were introduced to help local councils identify crime risks and minimise opportunities for crime through the appropriate assessment of development proposals. Although at present, it only impacts on development in New South Wales, in time other states and territories may have to face similar challenges.
There are two parts to the Guidelines:
The Guidelines require that “A formal crime risk assessment is needed for any development that is likely (in the councils opinion) to create a risk of crime”.
A crime risk assessment would incorporate local crime trends including the type of crime that may impact on the development. The results from the assessment will assist in identifying the appropriate mix of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED pronounced sep-ted) principles.
The Guidelines advise “Councils have an obligation to ensure that a development provides safety and security to users and the community.” These Guidelines will assist councils when assessing development applications to identify and minimise opportunities for crime.
“Councils need to use these principles so they do not approve developments that create or exacerbate crime risk”. The CPTED model uses the natural, built, organisational and social aspects of the site in an innovative and cohesive manner to reduce the incidence and fear of crime. The application of these Guidelines which we strongly support should also satisfy sections of the Aged Care Certification Guidelines.
The Guidelines refer to four CPTED principles. These are access control, surveillance, territorial reinforcement and space management. The combining of these strategies will increase the opportunities for people to identify and respond to undesired behaviour and create a sense of ownership or territory. This approach also includes adding individual personal touches, i.e. elements that clearly identify the environment as being ‘owned’ or ‘cared for’. The CPTED approach has the effect of promoting an even greater perception of risk to the potential offender of being detected and apprehended. CPTED helps develop a sense of safety without the feeling of imprisonment. Maintaining quality of life should underpin any crime prevention strategy.
We have for several years promoted CPTED and other crime prevention approaches to architectural firms, construction companies and developers on the benefits of applying these strategies. Unfortunately, very few have been pro-active in this area. Perhaps this reflects the omission of this important knowledge in their professional education. This situation may also demonstrate that many designers and builders are not concerned about “life after” the construction period, for the facility. Facility operators and developers should instruct their architects/project managers to consult with specialist CPTED practitioners at the initial planning stage of any development, whether it be for a nursing home, hostel or retirement village.
Harris Crime Prevention Services provides on an occasional basis articles by other Industry experts, such as: How Airports apply designing out crime principles