What is CPTED? Principles and Strategies Explained

August 4, 2022
Community Action Security

Community Action Security

What is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)?

Crime prevention through environmental design, also known as CPTED, is the idea that the design of landscaping, outdoor environments, and buildings can impact the level of crime in an area. We all want to make our world safer in any way possible, so let’s explore how we can use our environments to build a greater sense of safety. We’ll cover everything you need to know about CPTED security, CPTED training, and more during this guide.

What is CPTED?

According to the CPTED definition, crime prevention through environmental design is all about the effective use and proper design of a building’s environment to decrease both the incidence and fear of crime and boost the overall quality of life in a neighborhood. The three elements of CPTED include access control, surveillance, and territoriality. These three elements together can increase a sense of personality safety as well as premise security:

  • Territoriality. Territoriality refers to someone’s desire to protect what they feel is their territory and a level of respect for others’ territory. Someone’s defense of their territory depends on their responsibility for or investment in that particular property. A homeowner, for example, might risk their life to defend their house against someone who is threatening their children or partner.
  • Surveillance. In order to protect and defend your property against any intruders or criminals, you need to be able to view any illegal actions or crimes that are taking place. Surveillance refers to putting people, activities, and physical features in place to help boost the ability to view what’s happening around your home or building to discourage and reduce crime.
  • Access control. You can also reduce crime by placing properly located lighting, fencing, entrances, and exits to direct both vehicle and foot traffic. Access control is all about eliminating access to the target of a potential crime and restricting or controlling the movement of criminals.

Benefits of CPTED

Here are some of the top benefits of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) for planners and architects, business leaders, law enforcement, municipal leadership, and community residents:

  • Community residents. With crime prevention through environmental design, community residents have increased interaction between residents, stronger neighborhood bonds, less victimization of fellow residents, fewer crimes committed in the area, improved quality of life and sense of security, and opportunities to play an important role in the prevention of crime in the community. Community residents will also have better problem solving and crime prevention skills, as well as an improved knowledge and understanding of local government agencies and other resources.
  • Municipal leadership. Municipal leadership will benefit from a better perception of livability and safety in their neighborhoods and public areas, an improved consideration of public safety when it comes to redevelopment, development, and planning projects, and reduced crime in business areas and neighborhoods.
  • Law enforcement. With crime prevention through environmental design, law enforcement will see new problem-solving and crime prevention projects, the chance to play an important role in the prevention of crime in the community, action, and clarification on neighborhood priorities associated with quality of life and crime, and sustainable connections with code enforcement, development, planning, and other local agencies.
  • Business leaders and owners. Through crime prevention through environmental design or CPTED, business leaders will benefit from improved problem-solving partnerships with community members and the local government, as well as locations that are better and safer for employees and customers.
  • Planners and architects. Planners and architects will benefit from a holistic approach to the planning and development process, as well as an enhanced role in designing the building environment. CPTED is seen as an important part of green building and leadership in energy and environmental design, also known as LEED.

CPTED Principles

Crime prevention through environmental design is all about promoting aesthetically pleasing and high quality solutions to improve the use of a space and reduce the incidence and fear of crime. The four crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) principles include:

  • Maintenance and management
  • Territorial reinforcement
  • Natural access control
  • Natural surveillance

Natural Surveillance

Natural surveillance is all about placing more people, activities, or items on the street to boost the perceived risk to criminals. The idea is that criminals or offenders are much less likely to commit a crime if they’re being watched, so natural surveillance can increase both the perceived and actual risk to criminals, especially if those watching them are willing to act on their observations.

The main goal of natural surveillance is to keep criminals and intruders under observation through a number of tactics. You can remove lighting, windows, and obstructions to boost the line of sight from within the building or environment. You can also place more cameras and people to watch for potential criminals near the high risk crime area.

Natural Access Control

Natural access control uses physical elements like shrubs, fences, and doors to keep intruders out of a specific location. You can use window barriers, doors, and locks to achieve access control in commercial and residential buildings. That being said, you need more subtle access control when you go from a private property to a semi-public or public location. You can use appropriately placed lighting, landscaping, fencing, entrances, and exits to subtly direct car and foot traffic to reduce chances for crime in public spaces.

It can be harder to implement access control in public areas and busy streets. However, you can use tactics to establish greater control, such as psychological and non-physical barriers, like nature strips, paving textures, and signs. Anything that supports access control can help reduce movement for criminals.

Territorial Reinforcement

It’s human nature to want to protect a place that we think of as our own territory, and we tend to have respect for and acknowledge the territory of others. You can gain clear boundaries between private and public areas by using physical elements like landscaping, maintenance, signs, art, pavement treatment, and fences to establish clear ownership or a territory. It’s much easier to identify any criminals or intruders on your property when your property lines are as well defined as possible. Territorial reinforcement works best when someone uses their territory to discourage potential criminals through directness, transparency, and legibility.

Maintenance and Management

Maintenance and management can have a huge effect on whether a particular neighborhood or area will be targeted by intruders or criminals. You can develop the identity of a community or neighborhood to improve the sense of security, social cohesion, and territorial concern. You need to plan for maintenance and management at the design phase of the process.

CPTED Strategies and Tips

Designing and implementing security features into neighborhoods and buildings can create a sense of community and decrease the chances of criminal behavior. The main purpose of CPTED is to develop space spaces through a sense of responsibility and ownership, excellent surveillance, and reduced access to properties. Here are some strategies and tips for crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED):

  • Strategies for Natural access control and surveillance: You should use your landscaping and walkways to direct visitors away from private areas and towards the correct entrance. We also suggest implementing excellent lighting in any doorways that are open to the outside as well as areas of the yard and sidewalks. Make the front door of the location clearly visible from the parking lot or the driveway and at least partly visible from the street. Windows on every side of the building should offer whole property views for better surveillance. The driveway should also be visible from at least one window and from the front door or back door. Well maintained landscaping should offer excellent views both from and to the building.
  • Strategies for Territorial reinforcement: You should establish clear property lines and define any private areas with fences, pavement treatments, and plantings. The street address of the location should be clearly visible from the street, and any address numbers should be created with a non-reflective material and at least five inches high. Vestibules and entryways can create a transition between the building and the street. You can also create accent entrances with changes in design features, different paving materials, and street elevation. You can also design houses, streets, and parking lots to boost the interaction between different neighbors and increase the level of community and security.

If you want to learn more about crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), contact Community Action Security. We can answer any question you may have about our security guard services and walk you through our crime prevention through environmental design principles.

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