Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design – What it is, and how it can Benefit Commercial Property

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a crime prevention method which focuses on strategic design and the effective use of the built environment to deter criminal activity, and reduce the fear of crime.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a crime prevention method which focuses on strategic design and the effective use of the built environment to deter criminal activity, and reduce the fear of crime.

In commercial properties, CPTED aims to reduce or completely remove the opportunity for crime to take place. It is a preventative and proactive security measure, rather than a reactive one.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

What are the benefits of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design?

When a CPTED strategy is applied at the earliest stage of the building design process, it offers the most benefits. It also works optimally when paired with other social, environmental, and community-based strategies.

CPTED is most associated with reducing the likelihood for an offender to commit a crime. Research into criminal behaviour has revealed that the decision to offend is influenced more by the perceived risk of being caught, as opposed to reward or ease of entry.

In other words, fear of being caught is the main deterrent for criminals. So, by raising the certainty of being caught, criminal activity will decrease. In line with this, CPTED strategies work to enhance the perceived risk of detection.

As well as deterring crime, CPTED can also boost feelings of safety for legitimate building users by optimising the visibility of a space, making people feel more comfortable.

What are the principles of CPTED?

There are five core principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. These are:

  1. Physical security
  2. Surveillance
  3. Movement control
  4. Management and maintenance
  5. Defensible space

Physical security comprises measures to protect a property from attack.

These may include doors, locks, grilles, gates, bars and shutters, barriers, etc.

Surveillance boosts the perceived risk of attempting crime by improving the visibility of potential offenders.

In CPTED, this involves designing the placement of physical features in order to make potential offenders feel increased scrutiny, and therefore a higher risk of being caught or unable to escape.

Movement control involves the restriction of access, ways out and through-movement.

Where through-movement is reduced, offenders have less opportunity to make an escape, and there is a greater chance of them being identified and caught.

Management and maintenance processes ensure that a commercial property or development is free from disrepair and neglect.

A site that is cared for generally signals that it will be a tougher challenge for criminals to breach. It will also create more of a feeling of safety and confidence for visitors and local communities.

Prompt repairs of broken windows and doors, locks and other physical security features are vital to ensure CPTED measures remain effective.

Landscape maintenance, including ensuring vegetation is cut back, can help to increase natural surveillance and reduce hiding places for intruders.

Regular maintenance of security systems, such as lighting, intruder alarms, door entry systems and CCTV should also form part of this CPTED principle.

Defensible space involves clearly defining the ownership of the building’s perimeter so that it is clear as to which parts are owned by the business and are therefore private.

By carefully placing entrances and exits, perimeter gates, barriers and fencing, lighting and landscaping, access can be naturally controlled.

A single, clearly identifiable point of entry is advisable, with structures in place to direct people to reception areas where they can be identified.

Defensive planting can be used to discourage intruders, and any features that may provide access to upper levels eliminated by design.

All of these ‘natural access control’ measures should be designed to clearly define and protect the perimeter, whilst leaving a clear line of sight so that potential intruders are not able to benefit from cover.

How does CPTED reduce the opportunity for crime?

There are three ways in which Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design can reduce the opportunity for crime:

Natural – the use of basic security and behaviour-related measures which influence how buildings are used.

Organised – the use of human security, for example security guards and patrols.

Mechanical – incorporating a range of security solutions, such as intruder alarms, CCTV, high security locks and security lighting.

Securing Your Business – by Design

Summing up, CPTED focuses on the natural crime prevention strategies which can be designed into a commercial building or site from the ground up.

The best place to start when designing security into a property is a physical security risk assessment. This will help you identify the specific risks associated with your business and your premises, allowing you to take the relevant steps to mitigate them.

At Barry Bros Security, our accredited and vastly experienced security experts have been working closely with businesses in a range of industry sectors for more than 70 years, ensuring premises are protected from the ground up.

To arrange a fully tailored security assessment for your commercial premises, we welcome you to contact Barry Bros Security or call in to our London showroom.

How Can We Help?

Regardless of the type of premises you are looking to protect, Barry Bros Security has the solution. Contact us today for expert advice and the benefit of decades of experience in the security industry.