By Leon Harris
Published in INsite June/July 2009
In the October/November 2008 issue, I discussed the importance of applying ‘Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design’ (CPTED). Consistent with the CPTED strategy, is a kindred approach called ‘Crime Prevention Through Environmental Management’ (CPTEM). The two should be applied in partnership with each other.
As with CPTED, CPTEM should be considered at the early stages of design to ensure a continuum of the security management strategy once a facility is operational. It should be adopted, even if CPTED did not get the appropriate attention in the architectural brief. Ensuring CPTEM is indelibly etched on the executive mindset will ensure best crime prevention practice is enshrined as a central management philosophy and entrenched as a sustainable management function.
CPTEM involves managing a post-construction security environment built upon a CPTED foundation. They are mutually supportive. A pre-requisite to an effective CPTEM strategy is a solid working knowledge of CPTED principles and their application to particular contexts, e.g. a mixed use campus, an aged care facility, a rehabilitation hospital, a major teaching hospital, a school, a public space etc.
At the basic level, CPTEM is putting in place management plans for the removal of graffiti, and other signs of vandalism, ensuring lighting is working and landscaping works as a crime deterrent and not a crime magnet (e.g. height of bushes, removal of lower tree branches etc). However, more needs to be done.
CPTEM is the acknowledgement that there is a strong and enduring relationship between the organic nature of any facility (i.e. the on-going changing operational and architectural characteristics), the natural dynamics of security risks, the often ‘unexpected’ security incidents and the challenged and limited security resources.
An example is when a new wall, door, staff car park or pathway is built or the reception area or laundry or kitchen is redesigned. It is most likely that the existing security systems and security practices will not deliver their original objectives under these new environmental conditions. It is simple; change the built or operational environment and the (security) management of that environment is impacted upon, normally negatively. As an illustration, when new car parking areas are built, so often appropriate consideration of key crime and fear-of-crime factors are neglected during the planning stage. These factors include security lighting, landscaping and ‘creepy places’ (e.g. architectural pillars, industrial garbage bins etc that provide potential hiding places for criminals – especially during the dark of night). A further illustration, and as strange as it may seem, even the positioning of new office safes are rarely considered in the full context of the immediate environment, including the capabilities of the current security systems (e.g. electronic access control, CCTV, hold-up alarm locations) or the effectiveness of the CPTED principles originally applied (e.g. natural surveillance for staff) under the new environmental conditions.
Another example is when door and window screens on residents’ units are accepted by management as a defence against intrusion. However should the screens in reality provide no protection against criminals, then the screen ‘system’ has unrealistic crime prevention expectations in that particular environment. So management has a choice – change the ‘protective’ screens or change the environment in other ways to improve the safety of residents. Certain types of fencing and particular lighting methodologies are sometimes considered – again depending on the facility design and the facility operations, which contribute to the environmental context. (There are other contributors to the security environment such as workplace and client culture and compliance obligations).
CPTEM is an important part of Security Risk Management (SRM); however it is the area most likely to be forgotten, at least until the deficiencies in CPTEM are raised during court proceedings relating to intruder-related violence against a resident or staff member.
To varying degrees, CPTEM is something that managers do in the course of their work, perhaps without knowing its name. However, often lacking is the knowledge and the commitment that will deliver all the benefits to the facility in operational risk management terms and to the facility owner in due diligence and financial risk management terms.
CPTEM as with any strategy should not only include the obvious but the not so obvious. Often wonderful CPTEM ideas can come from staff, especially those who work at night. Include in the brief to your security consultant for your next security review, the requirement to ask the necessary questions to your staff that relate to CPTEM. The benefits may surprise you.
Further information on CPTEM or CPTED can be obtained by contacting Harris Crime Prevention Services.
Leon Harris DIP,SEC.STUDS,.CPP, is the principal consultant Harris Crime Prevention Services, a national specialist and independent security risk management consultancy established for the health and aged care sectors.
Harris Crime Prevention Services provides on an occasional basis articles by other Industry experts, such as: How Airports apply designing out crime principles