Security ProtectionThe manipulation of the built environment to reduce the opportunity for crime, disorder and the fear of crime is referred to as crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) (Crowe, 2000). CPTED is a multi-disciplinary approach which draws upon key aspects of environmental criminology, architecture, planning and urban design (Cozens, 2008). CPTED is underpinned by a number of principles: i) surveillance; ii) movement control; iii) defensible space; iv) physical security and v) management and maintenance. Surveillance aims to ensure residents are able to observe the areas surrounding their home and their neighbourhood and witness, challenge or report any suspicious behaviour. Movement control aims to ensure that opportunities for access, egress and through movement are minimised to prevent unauthorised access. Defensible space refers to the clearly defined ownership of space in a neighbourhood and encourages and promotes residents to feel a sense of responsibility for the areas adjacent to their home. Ensuring that residents feel a sense of attachment to space helps to foster a willingness to take control of the area. Physical security aims to ensure that robust security measures (such as door and window locks) are installed on individual dwellings to withstand attack from offenders. Management and maintenance relate to the importance of ensuring that a development is free from graffiti, vandalism and litter. In doing so, it transmits signals to residents and visitors that the area is cared for.

CPTED depends for its realisation on a number of different agencies, notably the police, urban designers, planning authorities and developers. There is no shortage of evidence that the elements of CPTED are relevant to the incidence of crime and an example of this is the findings from evaluations of the Secured by Design (SBD) award scheme in the UK. The scheme aims to encourage those involved in the design of new developments to design out crime by ensuring that the principles of CPTED are considered throughout the design and concept stages (see for further information). Evaluations of the scheme demonstrate that homes built to the SBD standard experience less crime and disorder than those which are not built to the standard (Armitage & Monchuk, 2011).

Whilst the importance of reducing the opportunity for crime and disorder through the design and planning of the built environment is documented in national policy (see, for example, Section 79c Guidelines of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979 in New South Wales), there is little guidance to state how it should be embedded in practice. Undoubtedly, there is a plethora of considerations during the design and planning stage of any development and CPTED is merely one. However, research has highlighted that practitioners responsible for reviewing development applications are often frustrated that CPTED is considered too late in the planning process and that often this consideration is merely tokenistic (Monchuk, 2016; Clancey et al, 2018).

We have conducted a number of research projects (both in the UK and Australia) to examine the process through which CPTED is applied and implemented. Regardless of jurisdiction, key findings highlight a number of areas that are frequently raised by practitioners tasked with the delivery and application of CPTED. We believe that this connects to security practitioners and their role in preparing security risk assessments. Whilst the literature states that CPTED is effective in reducing opportunities for crime and disorder, it is important to acknowledge:

  • Whilst the importance of considering CPTED is documented in policy and guidance, a process is required to ensure that this is translated in practice and implemented on the ground.
  • CPTED represents a multi-disciplinary approach to crime reduction and thus, it must be a consideration for all the different stakeholders and agencies involved in the design and planning process (for example, urban designers, planners, developers) as well as those with a specific crime prevention/security focus.
  • CPTED needs to be considered early in the design and planning process. This requires engagement with key stakeholders at the design/concept stage to consider how crime prevention can be seamlessly (and aesthetically) embedded into the design of new developments, whilst addressing other key agendas.
  • Understanding the local context is imperative. This can be achieved by undertaking site visits, analysis of data (such as crime data) and consultation with key stakeholders (including residents) familiar with the local area.
  • There is a lack of training provision for those implementing the principles of CPTED. Current training provision tends to be brief. Our research has identified that the principles of CPTED are applied inconsistently and that the terminology used to describe CPTED varies significantly (Monchuk et al, 2018). This needs to be rectified.
  • There is a need for the provision of dedicated professional training and ongoing continuing professional development (CPD) to ensure that those practising CPTED do so consistently, but also remain abreast of updates and developments in policy, practice and research.

Finally, we believe that there is a need for greater research within the field to establish a dedicated evidence base to ensure that CPTED can improve and evolve.

The development of an extensive suite of case studies is one way in which this can be achieved, as often developments that have received CPTED recommendations are rarely revisited and systematically reviewed. Establishing a comprehensive suite of case studies to regularly review and monitor developments over periods of time can help better inform policy and practice and also identify training and CPD needs.

For a full list of references, email

Dr Leanne Monchuk is a senior lecturer in Criminology & Policing at the University of Huddersfield (England). She can be contacted via email or Twitter: @LeanneMonchuk

Dr Garner Clancey is a senior lecturer in Criminology at the University of Sydney. He can be contacted via email or Twitter: @GarnerClancey

Leanne Monchuk
Dr Leanne Monchuk is a senior lecturer in Criminology & Policing at the University of Huddersfield