By Leon Harris
Published in INsite October/November 2008
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (‘CPTED’ pronounced ‘Sep-Ted’), although not a new strategic approach to mitigate crime against facilities and to enhance perceptions of safety (e.g. to residents and staff), has only in recent times become a serious design objective at, and from the architectural concept stage. This could partly be because stakeholders in design and construct projects are more affected and frustrated when planning authorities refuse Development Applications because of their professional failure to properly incorporate CPTED principles.
However, when specifically looking at the aged care sector in Australia, although progress in terms of acceptance of, and commitment to CPTED is gaining traction within new designs, CPTED has still not been granted the status it requires or what facility managers, staff and residents at aged care facilities deserve.
For maximum benefit to stakeholders including investors, security design consultants should be invited as panel members to the concept or masterplanning table. If architecture, landscaping, lighting and relevant aspects of engineering can coalesce early enough with security design, then realisation of form function, safety (security) and market edge reputation is more likely. Interestingly, by applying CPTED principles in a determined manner, reliance of (security) technology is often reduced and certain sources of operational costs such as that resulting from insurance claims can be reduced.
This CPTED approach seeks to incorporate security into a project’s ‘form’ from the outset. It ensures a more measured outcome via a truly consultative process. The approach learns from the historical relationship between crime and architectural design and transforms the learning into practical and ‘passive’ crime prevention that works.
Security design is more than the traditional inclusion of barriers, bolts, surveillance systems and alarms. It is a comprehensive environmental crime prevention strategy, applying aspects of architecture, engineering and technology to all development proposals, from concept to completion. Security design has two objectives:
In brief, the CPTED principles are:
(a) territorial classification – defines by way of form, the purpose and (legitimate) use, e.g. by staff, residents and contractors, of the space within your property.
(b) natural (passive) surveillance – creating security sight lines through creative form, i.e. providing easy opportunity for legitimate users to observe events.
(c) territorial reinforcement – visual indicators to would-be criminals that this ‘private property’ is actively observed by the staff and residents.This aspect cleverly considers dynamic factors such as access, usage patterns and behavioural expectations.
Another Crime Prevention strategy that should be used in conjunction with CPTED is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Management (CPTEM). This involves managing the environment post construction. The principles and benefits of CPTEM will be discussed in a later article.
Although CPTED and CPTEM principles may not be considered ‘rocket science’, it does require an advanced understanding of how criminals identify prospective targets (human and property), why criminals are deterred from prospective targets and the architectural countermeasures that are effective, which are far easier and more cost-effective to apply during the architectural stages than as part of a retrofit project. CPTED expertise should be sought well before the DA is refused and the crime is committed. Besides the personal life-safety issues, there is a real possibility of failure in OHS..
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