Designing out Crime – Voices from the Fields

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Article publication date: 30 September 2013



Clancey, L.M.a.G. (2013), "Designing out Crime – Voices from the Fields", Safer Communities, Vol. 12 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Designing out Crime – Voices from the Fields

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Safer Communities, Volume 12, Issue 4.

“Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED)”, “designing out crime”, “safer by design”, “secured by design” or any of the other “flavours” of manipulating the built environment to prevent crime, invariably engender an inter-disciplinary approach. This work is frequently the domain of architects, urban planners, police, security professionals, local authority planners and community safety professionals (amongst others). Despite the real work being undertaken by these actors, the diverse disciplinary and practitioner perspectives are insufficiently heard within criminological discourse. We have sought to rectify this by bringing together contributions from built environment and local authority practitioners from England, Australia and New Zealand in this “Designing out crime - voices from the fields” special edition of the Safer Communities journal. We believe that these perspectives provide fresh insights into a body of work that is now many decades in the making (and perhaps centuries in the making - see Cozens, 2008). The different disciplinary and jurisdictional perspectives uncover numerous practical dilemmas, competing priorities and tensions in how this work is approached and implemented. By viewing these issues through various disciplinary, organisational and jurisdictional perspectives, it is possible to not only compare and contrast approaches, but to also identify emerging themes consistent in these different locations, ensuring that this edition will be of great interest to policy makers, practitioners and scholars alike.

The origins of this special edition can be traced to our mutual interest in crime prevention and designing out crime. Our individual work intersected 18 months ago and has since resulted in reciprocal trips to Australia and England, during which we met with the authors. Spending time on site visits, discussing projects and enjoying presentations from the various authors demonstrated the importance of enabling these highly competent practitioners to share their stories. It also reaffirmed the need to engage even more with applied criminological activities to ensure that our individual and joint research endeavours reflect contemporary issues, practices and dilemmas.

This special edition is an “academese-free zone”. It is a collection of stories told by practitioners. Less familiar with writing for academic journals, each author was encouraged to write about their work, giving voice to their experiences and insights, unmediated by academic analysis or commentary. Consequently, this special edition not only makes an important contribution to our understanding of how designing out crime work happens, it is also highly readable something for the whole family, not just the dusty office! In keeping with our commitment to providing a platform for practitioner voices, we have elected to say only a little about each paper, allowing each author to speak for themselves.

Michael Brooke (Development Officer, Secured by Design, Association of Chief Police Officers) tells “The story so far”, explaining the evolution of the “Secured by Design” approach in the UK. By providing some historical context, Michael has very usefully plotted the key moments and events that shaped the emergence of the Secured by Design approach. In particular, he points to the important contribution of the Association of Chief Police Officers and Architectural Liaison Officers, the adoption of various design standards and the production of various design guidelines. This account reveals the layering of developments shaped by particular forces in planning, policing and security. Given the impact of the Secured by Design approach on other jurisdictions, this historical context tells an important story that is relevant beyond England and Wales. Moreover, Michael highlights the important connections that have been forged with relevant industry groups. Security product designers and manufacturers and the involvement of residential development companies have been critical to the widespread uptake of the Secured by Design approach. With growing evidence of the importance of good design and security technologies and devices (see Armitage and Monchuk, 2011; Farrell et al., 2008, 2011), Michael provides a timely overview of relevant developments in this area.

Nick Goldby (Arup) and Ian Heward (Metropolitan Police) build on Michael's paper by explaining how the Secured by Design approach directly contributed to the monumental task of designing safer and secure venues for the successful 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. While Secured by Design principles underpinned key design and security work, Nick and Ian highlight the particular challenges faced in building multi-purpose venues on such a large scale involving so many stakeholders and organisations. So significant was the task of re-developing the East London site that it required one of the “largest planning documents ever submitted in Europe”. Beyond “standard” crime concerns, terrorism threats also needed to be considered and balanced by other design priorities. Moreover, consideration had to be given to post-Olympic uses, a task which is ongoing and will be for some years to come. Nick and Ian have provided a fascinating “inside” perspective on the planning and management of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics, which has relevance to anyone interested in mass gathering events and to those interested in how the Secured by Design approach can be utilised on a large scale. This paper also says much about inter-agency collaboration and partnership approaches, of a kind rarely seen.

Jonathan Knapp (Director, SJB Urban) explores the origins of urban design as a discipline and draws on the work of key historical figures in this field, including Jane Jacobs, Kevin Lynch and Jan Gehl. By delving into the origins of urban design, Jonathan provides context to the challenges of integrating CPTED into design and architectural practice. Urbanisation has brought traffic congestion, pollution, over-crowding, spatial class divisions, crime and numerous other maladies. As an urban designer, Jonathan describes how these and numerous other issues impact on his work. He also provides a frank reminder of the imperatives of the market and the forces that shape architectural and urban design projects. Jonathan also provides a small number of case studies that demonstrate how “good urban design” generally resonates with “good CPTED”. Jonathan's paper presents challenges for those seeking to ensure that CPTED is considered during planning stages, but illuminates how progress has and can continue to be made.

Sue Ramsay (Crime Prevention Team Leader, Christchurch City Council) shares some of the traumatic consequences of the devastating earthquakes and the in excess of 11,000 aftershocks that have wrought havoc on Christchurch, New Zealand in recent years. Through the devastation and demolition (80 per cent of the buildings in the central business district were demolished by mid-2013), the city of Christchurch has started to re-emerge. While the widespread devastation caused (and is continuing to cause) considerable human suffering and loss of life, the reconstruction and re-development of the city has provided opportunities to embed CPTED principles into new planning regimes. Sue illustrates both the costs of and the opportunities emerging from the numerous earthquakes in recent years, while also drawing links with the pre-earthquake community safety and CPTED work in Christchurch. In particular, Sue's reflection on the “Christchurch experience” demonstrates the benefits of strong inter-agency collaboration, the importance of inter-disciplinary approaches and the power to continuing to learn in the face of unprecedented challenges (and opportunities).

Chris Butler (Urban Designer, Harrison Grierson) takes us to the North Island of New Zealand and describes his work as a private urban designer. Chris has been very active in the CPTED area in recent years, producing a freely available design guide which demonstrates the numerous practical ways that CPTED can be applied in urban design projects. In his paper, “What constitutes success? A critical review of the practice and implementation of crime prevention through environmental design in New Zealand”, Chris provides a brief overview of recent national CPTED developments in New Zealand, accompanied by some suggestions on what it is needed to elevate CPTED work. He then provides a detailed case study of his involvement in an award-winning project in Maraenui, Napier. Through this case study, Chris highlights the merits of co or participatory design approaches, but perhaps more importantly, he illustrates the merits of going beyond crime in seeking to build safer communities. In the tradition of the second-generation CPTED advocates (see Saville and Cleveland, 2008), Chris persuasively argues for an urban design approach directed towards positive community outcomes, not just the erection of buildings. This call to go beyond crime is an excellent way to conclude this special edition. While designing safe places and spaces are inherently sensible objectives, the ways of achieving these outcomes should not just be through locks, lights and landscaping. Chris reminds us that design should be done with communities and not for communities, and that crime and safety issues are often just one of a lengthy list of issues confronting many communities.

It has been a pleasure working with each of the authors in this special edition. We are very appreciative of the time that they have invested in preparing drafts and responding to suggested changes. Given that writing of this kind is not part of their day jobs, we are tremendously thankful for their agreement to contribute to this important special addition and for their patience in working with us as editors. We are also proud to bring together such a fine collection of papers authored by “jobbing” practitioners and believe that it will make an important contribution to our understanding of CPTED and the various disciplines and industries that shape this work.

We commend this special edition to you and hope that you enjoy a series of papers not ordinarily found in a journal of this kind.


Armitage, R. and Monchuk, L. (2011), “Sustaining the crime reduction impact of designing out crime: re-evaluating the secured by design scheme 10 years on”, Security Journal, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 320-43
Cozens, P.M. (2008), “Crime prevention through environmental design”, in Richard, W. and Lorraine, M., (Eds), In Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis, Willan, Devon, pp. 153-94
Farrell, G., Tilley, N., Tseloni, A. and Mailey, J. (2008), “The crime drop and the security hypothesis”, British Society of Criminology Newsletter, No. 62, pp. 17-21
Farrell, G., Tseloni, A., Mailey, J. and Tilley, N. (2011), “The crime drop and the security hypothesis”, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 48 No. 2, pp. 147-75
Saville, G. and Cleveland, G. (2008), “Second generation CPTED: the rise and fall of opportunity theory”, in Atlas, R. (Ed.), 21st Century Security and CPTED, CRC Press, New York, NY, pp. 79-90

About the Guest Editors

Leanne Monchuk is a Research Assistant in the Applied Criminology Centre at the University of Huddersfield. Her main research interest lies within the field of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). She is currently completing a PhD which investigates how CPTED is delivered across Greater Manchester. Leanne Monchuk is the corresponding author and can be contacted at:

Garner Clancey is a Lecturer and the Deputy Director of the Sydney Institute of Criminology, University of Sydney. He has wide experience in crime prevention, developing local government crime prevention plans, undertaking crime risk assessments, teaching crime prevention courses and as Vice President of the Australian Crime Prevention Council.

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