CPTED as it is commonly known, refers to the examination of various environmental factors relative to the target hardening of a facility and other aspects which affect their likelihood of being a victim of a crime. More specifically defined on Wikipedia as:

Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) is a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design.

Essentially, the three elements or theories which exist within CPTED are:

  • Natural Territorial Reinforcement – Controlling human behavior through the delineation of private space versus public space. This can be achieved through the use of signage, tables, lights and other features which make people feel safe.  However, it is also to differentiate that space so that it sends a message to criminals that it is not to be trespassed upon.
  • Natural Surveillance – Designing the environment in such a way that it deters criminals because of the increased risk of detection and/or apprehension if a crime is committed. This is defined differently than many who study CPTED.   Specifically, it is often defined with the concept of increasing apprehension versus the focus on the prevention because of the risk of apprehension. Maybe splitting hairs, but our goal is being proactive, not reactive in everything we do and how we articulate our assessment results to our clients.
  • Natural Access Control – Utilization of actual physical attributes to control or limit the intrusion by criminals into private space. Different from Natural Territorial Reinforcement which simply signifies the space as private, Natural Access Control uses features which minimize or eliminate the trespassing.

Other focal points of CPTED include:

  • Maintenance – The control over a property by preserving it in well kept condition such that criminals believe it to be occupied and thus a more difficult target. Similar to the “Broken Windows” theory, those spaces which have deteriorated will be more likely to continue down that path, because there is no expectation of ownership. We do it all the time on a much smaller scale and in a different context. (e.g. It snowed the other day and your vehicle is covered in salt, so you don’t think twice about driving down a dirt road) Why? Because you figure it doesn’t matter because your vehicle is already dirty and needs to be cleaned anyhow. Well criminals think similarly, in that a vacant home which should be condemned becomes a haven for drug addicts, trespassers and other more serious criminals.
  • Activity Support – Placing park benches outside of a retail area, playgrounds and other features in an area, you are effectively reducing the risk of crime by increasing the perception and expectation of it being occupied. Beyond the idea that this theory is increasing the potential for people to congregate for good, it also helps delineate and make possible the identification of those who do not belong in that space.

CPTED has and will continue to be a positive theory to crime prevention utilized by law enforcement, city planners and security consultants alike. Like any good theory though, reading about it doesn’t always mean the execution of those principles will be as easy as one would believe.

Therefore, we work closely with our clients to assess the threats, risks and then adopt a strategy which combines CPTED principles with electronics, procedures and policies that create a more holistic security plan.  Call today to learn more!