Physical Security

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Physical Security


In the contemporary society, over ninety percent of the crime that has been recorded to the police is related to property, where residential robbery adds up to over 15% percent of this crime. In this case, small numbers of offenders are seized since most of the crimes relating to the property are committed hastily and are rarely noticed. Therefore, the clear-up rate by the police is only six percent especially to residential burglary, though most of the committed crimes involve little financial loss, elderly people fear burglary (Clarke, 2008).

Police cannot manage to provide the entire security especially to property crime as it still need the support from the householders and the entire community to take over the control of their neighborhoods through formation of such groups as Neighborhood Watch. Literature on crime prevention has proved that crime can be managed through the design and manipulation of personal households, and above all the relationship to one another within their neighborhoods.

Debates over crime prevention circles has been raged over the relative benefits of trying to minimize crime by reducing the social ills which are perceived to encourage crime versus treating the symptoms i.e. reducing the chances of criminals committing crimes as it is commonly known as crime prevention (Jeffery, 2001).

This argument comes as a result of conflict of opinion on whether criminals act randomly which make it hard to be controlled or whether they carry out their operations through rational choices which can also be prevented from committing offense if it can be made too dangerous or difficult to carry out their operations. It is assumed that criminals make rational choices and they can be prevented from committing crimes by initiating prevention programs and measures that alleviate the alleged social causes of crime. It has been proven that most of the prevention measures have stopped criminals from committing crime in some places

CPTED is majorly based on the idea of defendable space and this paper will discuss the theory as a foundation for preventing program by utilizing design modifications especially to homes together with their surrounding environs

Theory of CPTED

Environmental crime prevention dates back to early 1960s where the first book written by Jane Jacob suggested that active street light could reduce crime rates within the cities. In 1970s, there was a growth in the prospects of handling the built environs so as to reduce the rate of crime. C. Ray Jeffery greatly contributed to the formation of CPTED where he suggested that urban design which includes installation street lights, parks, super highways and terminals could assist in reducing opportunities and this led to the emergence of opportunity theory of crime prevention

Various scholars studied public housing and crime and found that there is a relationship between urban design and crime rates (Geason et al. 2008). It was found that houses that had lobbies, fire escapes, elevators corridors and roofs that were not accessible to the entire public registered high crime rates as compared to those in low-rise buildings. The solution to this existing problem was to design apartment blocks so as to allow public surveillance at all times. Newman analyzed the relationship between crime and crime in public housing and came up with three critical factors: surveillance, territoriality and image and milieu

Territoriality- According to Newman’s defensible space theory, it is assumed that people must mark out and defend their territory. It is believed that a good design encourages people to express their territorial need i.e. defending their territories from the outsiders, therefore, a well-designed housing project allows clear separation of houses and one could know which house belong to who as some could be entirely private while others could be publicly shared. One of the important aspects of this is the proper allocation of household. This called for the management to do proper allocation of housing projects to groups who live in an environment they best understand and have control over it considering their lifestyles, family structures, age and income.

Natural surveillance- a situation where occupants can monitor and observe private and public places in their surrounding environment and question whoever who is not familiar with them. This can only be achieved when the residents of a particular have developed territorial instincts in relation to their housing project and own the responsibility of their safety. In real sense, people must have the accessibility to public parts of the housing development if at all they are to assist in crime prevention.

Image and milieu – in his argument, Newman was of the opinion that designing a defensible space may assist in counteracting the adverse effects on the dwellers on the bad image caused by housing developments in the society. The idea of “milieu” forms comprises of this as it calls for the need for harmony between housing estates and the nearby neighborhood.

Social `surveillance- this was developed as a result of Newman’s natural surveillance. As the notion of watching for the environment against the intruders takes roots within the society takes roots within the neighborhoods, resident start to become confident and get involved enough to intervene

The theory assumes that any change made on the physical design affects the social design of cohesion and interaction which will eventually affect crime and also create the fear of committing a crime.

Employee Surveillance- these comprises of employees working in such places as bus conductors, receptionists, car park attendants, shop owners, caretakers in schools and managers and their assistants. It has been cited that areas under surveillance by the employees had enhanced security and estates with caretakers recorded few vandalism cases. In addition, buses which had one bus conductor had more damages reported as most of the passengers were not well manned (Yin, 2012)

CPTED Plus- in mid 1970s, most researchers had totally lost their hope on the capability to come up with changes so as to minimize crime and viewed design actions as the remedy of reducing criminality. Other actions of reducing the crime could be to create groups who are passionate in preventing crime among the people, enhanced monitoring and enhanced relationship between the community and the police

Manageable space- According to Benet (2010), the extent of defensible space is relatively small and emphasizes the need of proper security management within the housing scheme. The two paramount strategies in preventing crime are the process of creating space through physical management practices and policies, and design and site layout, which can be managed easily by the local people

In this case, manageable space comprises of management practices and soft architecture. The soft architecture relates to human beings, and the design reflects and welcomes the existence of people. On the other hand, soft management presumes that residents are ready to learn, accept, and look for opportunities of accepting the responsibility of participating in their environment.

There is also the need to consider the need for security consideration during the design such as proper definition of surveillance opportunities, territorial zones, and provision of housing facilities, proper hardware, adequate lighting, and avoidance of spaces where no one owns and restricted accessibility to housing estates (Jeffery, 2001). Management has the ability to influence crime through the way in which it can handle its reaction to criminality, maintenance, communication with both police and other relevant bodies, screening of tenants, the way people are allocated rooms, and personalization of units, eviction policies and neighbor disputes

Marcus Felson (1987) in his Kinetic Management theory and physical Design strongly believes in the principle of least effort, that victims and criminals seek the shortest route in committing a crime, take the shortest time and seeks the easiest way of accomplishing something; thus it is easy to predict where will meet. On the contrary, we can manipulate the environment so as to minimize their contact

As the community becomes more active, criminality is managed by independently informal social set up such as family and neighbors; when the entire streets are busy crime control mostly carried out by public policing; when facilities within the community are properly utilized, security officers, architects and those in charge of managing facilities will be the key players in crime prevention

Thus, it is paramount for us to look at it from the view of physical design and kinetic management. A good example is that designers must try by all means to deter flows of potential criminals away from targeted areas, or direct those flows to areas which are easy to monitor. In addition, prospective victims have to be channeled away from the risk

Advantages of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

According to Poyner (2007), the following are some of the advantages of incorporating CPTED in the entire prevention of crime

In most of the instances, though the police officers may not be willing to sit and plan and design free crime environments, it becomes cheaper and cost effective in the long run since the police may not require a lot of resources to man the area

Changes that come as result of CPTED is permanent and do not require expensive support programs that involve a lot of money and people. Defensive designs can be run by cheaper programs such as good management practices and neighborhood watch

Disadvantages of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

The kind of people who perceive criminality as the product of social situations like poverty, unemployment etc. have this believe that behavior manipulation and modification of physical setting are not seen as the substitute for enhanced social services that offer daycare, alcoholic treatment, rape crisis management and employment opportunities
(Lebeau, 1997)

Others believe that CPTED only displaces crime to some other areas in the society. This is to say that as more people tightens their security through the installation of barred windows and door locks, criminals shift to some other areas which are much easier to penetrate or take another different type of crime. For instance, sometimes back, when security was tightened on subways of New York City, the rate at which buses were robbed increased

Problems encountered during the implementation of CPTED

Implementing CPTED has never been that easy task as it marred with lots of challenges. The following are some of the few challenges encountered during CPTED implementation

On one hand, there is a problem with striking the balance between practicality and security implementation and aesthetics on the other hand. Promoting a lot of security breeds a castle mindset. Environmental designs have to cut criminal activities at the same time maintaining aesthetic standards looked after by architects
(Brantingham, 2009).

Since there is no existence of compulsory or voluntary security codes and standards for maintenance, and since continuous rivalry among the property owners has not led to safety, and the fact that security planning has never been generally recognized, most of the landlord do not request the architects come up with a design that features the element of security in it, neither does building permit officials emphasis on it


As it can be seen, crime prevention through environmental designs has some challenges especially to the entire community, and above all those policymakers, developers, architects, town planners, and different householders have a huge duty of guarding the entire community and also themselves from crime

In some cases, the entire public has resorted into the judicial systems and the police for security purposes by discouraging criminals then offering punishment to offenders. In other situations, some resources are allocated to arresting criminals and punishing them and providing other preventive measures so as to stop the occurrence of such crimes in the near future

The apathy of the general public in regards to self-protection, and the notion that somebody else probably the “government” or other bodies such as insurances bears the great responsibility of vandalism and theft. However, the community is beginning to realize that there is a lot of increase in the crime rate regardless of the increasing penalties that the judicial system can no longer bear with, and that it was the responsibility of the individual people to foot the bills arising from crime through payment of taxes to build more jails and to expand police forces, and also through payment of higher premiums to insurance companies (John, 2000).


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