Basic Crime Information
Types of Crime
Environmental Criminology
Heirarchy of Crime
Determiners

CPTED Crime Analysis

Design Principles
Design Guidelines
Design Examples
Origins of CPTED
Links

Basic Crime Information

      The Role of the Environment in Overall Crime Prevention
      Motivations for Crime / Interference in Leading a Non-Crime Lifestyle
      Opportunistic Motivation
      Premeditated Motivation
      Crime is a Rare Event
      Few People Take Part in Crime
      The Criminal - They R Us
      Individual Frameworks of Understanding / Valuations
      Crime Happens in the Awareness Spaces of the Potential Offender
      Crime Attractors, Generators and Facilitators
      Some places attract crime
      CPTED (acronym for...
      Crime Triangle
      Fear of Crime versus Actual Risk
      Concern with Crime
      Fear of Victimization
      Feelings of Safety
      Ecological Labels
      Fixing Broken Windows Theory
      Safety Audits

The Role of the Environment in Overall Crime Prevention

In most cases, where an environmental intervention is put in place, it will likely not solve the entire crime problem. The role of the environment is often small compared to other approaches such as social support, community building, judicial intervention, incarceration, management etc. Environmental design takes its place as one of numerous, multi-pronged approaches that must take place to prevent crime.

Motivations for Crime / Interference in Leading a Non-Crime Lifestyle

It is important to understand the motivation for the crime being targeted because design solutions may vary depending on the motivation.

Opportunistic Motivation

- will tend to happen on pathways, less likely to be sought out, where there is a convergence of available target, no guardianship and open escape routes. For example, graffiti will tend to stay on the pathways where an opportunity presents itself.

Premeditated Motivation

- casing for break and enter or finding a good location with steady target flow for robbery will generally happen in the awareness space of the potential offender. The professional burglar will more likely travel to specific places that present good targets not just ones that are on pathways they would use as part of their everyday routine.

Crime is a Rare Event

It is important to know how rare the occurrence of various types of crime are compared to other common types of human behaviour in the urban environment. The most common type of crime in Canada is stealing from cars. Yet most people have never actually seen anyone in the act breaking into a car suggesting that the most common occurring crime is rare in the larger backcloth of activities that happen in the city. Most people have high fear levels of random violent attack yet this type of crime is the least common type of crime, therefore an exceptionally rare occurrence in the larger context.

Few People Take Part in Crime

Once the idea of high risk populations has been introduced, there is a tendency to see the entire group of people that fit the characteristics as possible criminals. It is very important to establish that of those groups that fit the characteristics, few of that group actually undertake a crime.

The Criminal - They R Us

The criminal is often characterized as someone bad. Such labels as "offender" or "perpetrator" have a negative connotation. This tends to suggest that the criminal is different than the rest of the population. Research into personality and daily routines of those who choose to undertake a crime suggest that there are relatively few differences than those people that do not take part in crime. For example, a part-time burglar may have a family and a job and may search for good places to break into while taking children to hockey practice.

Individual Frameworks of Understanding / Valuations

What is a crime or nuisance? Who decides? Each person must develop individual views of the activities people take part in and make their own valuation. This can be done through observing the impacts on both the environment and the people affected by the activity. The design solution will reflect the individual valuation of the specific crime or nuisance activity.

Crime Happens in the Awareness Spaces of the Potential Offender

All people, including those few people who commit crimes, develop an awareness space of the places that they go as part of their daily routine (Brantingham and Brantingham, 1993). Criminal targets are usually picked from within this awareness space. Exploration of the unknown is not part of the target search process for most individuals. Awareness spaces can vary. Children have mental maps that are cognitively limited spatially and temporally. The awareness space expands as children age and jumps sharply when they begin to drive (lawfully or unlawfully) or as they gain independence to use public transportation. For example, when new mass transit systems are introduced into a city, opening up previously >untouchable' or unknown areas to many people, their criminal awareness spaces also expand. Some groups of poor and immigrants also have limited awareness spaces due to lack of mobility.

Crime Attractors, Generators and Facilitators

The places we create as the product of living in the urban environment have impacts on crime. Brantingham and Brantingham (1995) described the attributes of the criminality of different places. Some places have little crime or are neutral. Others have significant impacts. A crime generator is an activity place where, as a result of its functioning, crime is generated. For example, a neighbourhood with high injection drug abuse will generate property crimes in and around that neighbourhood and on pathways to and from that neighbourhood. The generation of crimes associated with the activities of a place makes this a crime generator.

Some places attract crime. A corner store across from a high school becomes an attractor.

A mass transit system complete with guideway and stations facilitates the movement of people. This transit system is a natural facilitator of crime because it creates a pathway and activity node system. Streets are also pathway and node system and therefore a crime facilitator. However, it is important to note that a crime facilitator may or may not have crime depending on other variables and characteristics. For example, some streets experience little or no crime because there are no high risk populations in the area and the design does not create easy opportunities. Never the less, by creating a pathway, by its basic function, it creates the potential to facilitate crime.

CPTED (acronym for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, pronounced sep-ted)

Definition: Altering or enhancing the physical environment to reduce opportunities for crime.

Traditionally, the principles of CPTED are;

- surveillance (formal and informal),

- territoriality,

- defensibility,

- maintenance/milieu (order and maintenance of an area),

- eyes on the street,

- access control,

- target hardening.

Surveillance, territoriality, defensibility and milieu stem from Oscar Newman (1972). Surveillance can be "natural" where one is able to observe the public areas of one's neighbourhood and "formal" where a person such as a security guard is employed to watch and area. Territoriality is the tendency to claim an area as one's own and to exert influence over this area both through maintenance of physical markers and the laws of behaviour. Defensibility are those markers that discourage opportunities for crime such as a fence that defines a front yard.

Eyes on the street stemmed from Jane Jacobs (1961) as a holistic interaction of residents and workers in a neighbourhood that engaged in street activity and therefore made the street safer.

Access control means limiting the amount of access to a neighbourhood, site, building or portion of a building such as underground parking with gating, locking and electronic card access. It can be illustrated by gated communities which limit the access points compared to a traditional street grid system with many access points.

Target hardening literally means hardening or increasing security of the potential target. For example if a house is the target of burglary then locks on the doors and bars on the windows are ways of hardening that target.

Crime Triangle

A violation minimally requires an offender with both criminal inclinations (a potential offender) and the ability to carry out those inclinations, a person or object providing a suitable target for the offender, and absence of guardians capable of prevention violations.

Fear of Crime versus Actual Risk

People's fear does not always reflect the actual risk of crime. For example, in underground parking, people have fear of being attacked by someone they do not know when the actual risk of being attacked in these locations is significantly lower than on many city streets. Feelings of fear have numerous environmental triggers such as isolation, poor maintenance, different looking people and darkness. Fear places are perceived on varying scales such as globally or within a neighbourhood.

Feelings of fear, whether they are accurate or not, are important because they influence the way people use the environment. Bonnie Fisher and Jack Nasar (1992) found that prospect and refuge are key perceptual basics for humans to feel safe and that escape routes are important (Appleton 1975). To feel safe, a basic necessity is to have prospect or clear visibility from a safe place or place of refuge to feel that one can escape from trouble; to have an escape route. It is important to recognize that this is a human trait, for both offenders as well as non-offenders. This is well described in the book, The Experience of Landscape by Jay Appleton (1975);

It is early one Sunday morning at the beginning of March, when Easter is already in the air, and we are taking a walk in the forest whose wooded slopes of tall beeches can be equaled in beauty by few and surpassed by none. We approach a forest glade. The tall smooth trunks of the beeches soon give place to the hornbeam which are dotted from top to bottom with pale green foliage. We now tread slowly and more carefully. Before we break through the last bushes and out of cover on to the free expanse of the meadow, we do what all wild animals and all good naturalists, wild boars, leopards, hunters and zoologists would do under similar circumstances: we reconnoitre, seeking, before we leave our cover, to gain from it the advantage which it can offer alike to hunter and hunted - namely to see without being seen. (From Konrad Lorenz, King Soloman's Ring, 1964 edn. consulted. Methuen: London as cited in Appleton, 1975, p. 58.)

Fear is increased (not necessarily risk) where there appears to be a hiding place for a potential offender e.g. a pathway that is too close to dense hedging. Nasar and Fisher also suggest that even if there is good prospect and no refuge for an offender, a victim and offender still needs an escape routes to feel safe. This was tested on the Wexner Center for the Visual Arts at the Ohio State University campus, designed by architect Peter Eisenman. Nasar and Fisher showed that fewer users would go onto a plaza that leads to an unsafe place after dark than they did during the day. This study did not include actual crime occurrences so the question of how risk impacts a fearful place was not addressed. An interesting further study would be to undertake a crime analysis that considers the actual crime risk.

Nasar and Fisher (1993) studied hot spots of fear. They suggest that humans often over-react to potential danger thereby increasing the chances of survival in the unlikely event that real danger arises. Fear happens at different scales, i.e. fear of a city or country when planning a trip or at the micro level, when walking beside bushes in an isolated area at night. Mental maps or cognitive maps contain fear locations. These are affected by social characteristics i.e. drunken, scruffy people, or by physical disorder such as graffiti, broken windows and garbage.

At a macro level, Brantingham and Brantingham (1986) suggest that there are objective crime patterns such as police crime statistics and perceptive crime patterns. Perceptive crime patterns relate to what people perceive crime to be or fear of crime. Perceptions break down into categories: concern with crime, fear of criminal victimization, feelings of safety, and ecological labeling.

Concern with Crime

This measures how people rank crime as a social problem compared with other problems such as poverty and unemployment (Furstenberg 1971).

Fear of Victimization

This measures an individual's estimates of crime trends in the nation, in the city, in their own neighbourhood and victimization to their own person. Some studies show that people often have perception of crime levels in the city similar to the objective measurements but this has not been a consistent finding (Conklin 1975). There is a tendency to hold crime at a perceptual distance. For example, the feeling that crime is up in the city but not in your neighbourhood (Hindelang et al. 1978). People also tend to feel that those committing the crime are outsiders of the neighbourhood.

Feelings of Safety

This measures whether people feel safe in specific places. According to findings of the U.S. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration's National Crime Survey (NCS) in the mid-1970's, nearly everyone feels safer during the day than at night and people generally feel safe in their neighbourhood.

Ecological Labels

These are expectations of particular behavioral patterns that people attach to specific places, such as ghettos or skid row. These are part of the cognition of a place i.e. cognitive maps. Ecological labels are the basis for work on the spatial distribution of crime started by Shaw and McKay (1929). The labels can sometimes influence the actual crime rates of an area.

In the Brantingham study, the West End neighbourhood of Vancouver was the study area. They found that residents of the West End felt that their neighbourhood had higher crime than others, that offenders were from the neighbourhood, and that they were likely to be a victim of break and enter. In fact, objective crime statistics showed that the West End crime levels were similar to other areas of Vancouver. The study found that residents felt safe at home, that people felt a part of the community but not close to their neighbours. These findings suggest that while perceptions seem well established when aggregated at the national level, that interesting incongruities occur at the neighbourhood level.

Taylor et al. (1984) found that physical territorial markers did play a small part in creating feelings of safety and security. He found that fear was related to territorial variables, the better the space was defined, the lower the fear. The study also found that women had higher fear than the men selected.

Pablant & Baxter (1975) suggested the offender has the same needs for prospect and refuge when stalking a target. This implies the target is a person but it may also apply to property, such as a school vandalism. A study by Archea (1985) suggested that robbers felt discomfort depending on whether they could be seen or not.

Feelings of fear are often counterintuitive to actual risk of crime. This thesis suggests that it is important to separate and validate the important feelings of fear while also considering the actual risk of crime.

In my tiny California grade school, its asphalt playground ringing loudly from the neighboring freeway, there were two distinct types of kids. We were desegregated, yes, but separate and unequal. . . . there were those who lived on the other side of the Tunnel, the Tunnel that provided daily access from the other side of the freeway. . . . It was not that we feared the Tunnel kids. . . ; we feared their beyond world, their known that was our unknown, their forbidden "mean streets". And, most of all, we feared the dark passage, the Tunnel itself. . . .

My tiny grade school is closed now, boarded up. Through chain link, the Tunnel's maw is "tagged" and smells of piss - I still will not go there, not for a can of Coke or anything. Having become a woman, having internalized a somewhat normative femininity, I fear it now more than ever. I fear rape. I fear assault and robbery. I fear bodily harm - from the rough grabbing of my wrist to the gunshot wound to my head. I fear mental and emotional harm - from the racial epithet to the trauma of bodily victimization. I fear violation - of my materiality, of my un/conscious, of my self. The Tunnel implodes my terrors. (Abject Terror by Dora Epstein from Ellin, 1997, p. 133-4.)

Fixing Broken Windows Theory

A study by Zimbardo (1973) suggested that vandalism left unchecked lead to more serious types of crime such as minor theft. In the mid 1970's, in the state of New Jersey, funding was provided for a project put police foot patrols back on the street. Five years after the project, an evaluation was published by the Police Foundation which concluded that crime rates had not been reduced. In an article in the Atlantic magazine, James Wilson and George Kelling (1982) suggested that the foot patrols had been successful in spite of this because they had reduced fear of crime and had increased maintenance of order in public areas. They suggested that although people feared "a sudden, violet attack by a stranger" (Ibid., p. 29), they also had fear "from a sense that the street is disorderly, a source of distasteful, worrisome encounters" (Ibid., p.31). They supported Zimbardo's work by suggesting that, over time, crime and disorder are linked by a developmental sequence, starting with the most simple levels of disorder, both physical and social, and leading to theft and, on occasion, violence. Therefore, by maintaining order in public areas there will be less escalation to other, more serious types of crime. This developmental sequence between disorder to more serious types of crime was established by Skogan (1990). He found that, with those surveyed, there was agreement about what constituted disorder and how much disorder was present locally. He also found that disorder was statistically linked with crime, more than other characteristics such as poverty and instability in the housing market.

In Fixing Broken Windows by George Kelling and Catherine Coles (1996), a number of successful projects were outlined. Specifically, the New York City subway was one of the first projects where order maintenance was employed. Early on, graffiti was minimized by swift and certain removal. The epidemic of homeless people living in the subway was addressed by integrated problem solving between involved agencies including the transit authority, the police, the mayor's office, as well as community groups, civil libertarians and advocates for the homeless. Agreement was reached between these diverse groups on actions that could be taken that would improve the situation. This was not without extensive legal struggles, but eventually, order was established in the subway system. More serious types of crime also fell substantially. The steps of this problem solving technique are summarized;

Step 1: Problem identification

Step 2: Identify possible programmatic changes

Step 3: Examine the viability and impacts of such programmatic changes

Step 4: Ensure all involved agencies or groups buy into the goals and plans for change

Step 5: Review existing regulations and programs against proposed changes

Step 6: Ensure legal, moral and political impacts are envisaged; prepare to win in court

Step 7: Establish an accurate feedback mechanism.

Safety Audits

A safety audit is where a group of people, mostly neighbours, will walk an area of their neighbourhood, daytime and nighttime and identify places where they feel fearful or poor maintenance areas. This audit process promotes community involvement and caring which is an important first step for crime reduction in a community. They identify visual nuisance areas which can benefit from improvements. For example, a graffiti wall identified in the audit as a visual concern to the community can lead to a community mural. This gives the community a focus for resources allocation and sense of achievement with minimal expense. However, the audit often identifies fear places without taking into consideration actual risk locations. Trimming bushes and increasing lighting in fear places rarely has impact on actual crime.

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