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NCJ Number
Security Management Dated: (March 1991) Pages: complete issue
R Atlas
Date Published
4 pages
Techniques that make crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) effective are also being used by criminals to defeat the CPTED approach.
CPTED is based on the theory of defensible space, but CPTED strategies and defensible space have not been successfully implemented in most low-income, urban public housing environments due to lack of resources or commitment. Nonetheless, four elements of physical design, both individually and in concert, contribute to the creation of secure environments: territorial definition, natural surveillance, building form, and compatible building placement. Middle- and upper-income housing environments have the resources needed to provide security and have successfully implemented CPTED features to spot criminals and report problems to the police. In the CPTED approach, appropriate architectural design is necessary to create spaces that can be defended. Actual intervention by legitimate users of the environment, however, depends on a sense of responsibility for and control over the environment, the territory, access to effective intervention methods, commitment to and involvement in the neighborhood, and relatively little fear of predatory crime and reprisal. Criminals use defensible space features to spot the police and outsiders, survey others approaching the area, report problems to those in command, provide a communications network to warn of approaching police, and change the environment to slow down police entry. As criminals feel more proprietary and responsible for the space, they maintain and defend it more. Criminal groups, such as gangs, drug users, drug dealers, and fencers, are more likely to exert territorial control over nearby spaces than heterogeneous groups are. A Florida study of 21 crime sites demonstrates the use of defensible space tactics by criminals. 17 footnotes