Crime Prevention Tip of the Week: Crime Prevention through environmental design |

Crime Prevention Tip of the Week: Crime Prevention through environmental design

Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) examines crime problems and the ways in which various features of the environment afford opportunities for undesirable and unwanted behaviors. CPTED attempts to remove or reduce these opportunities by changing various aspects of the building, the site and the location, and how that place is used.

Control access by creating both real and perceptual barriers to entry and movement. The environment must offer cues about who belongs in a place, when they are supposed to be there, where they are allowed to be while they are there, what they should be doing, and how long they should stay. Examples:

• Fences, tree lines, hedges or berms define the boundaries of a site

• Drives, sidewalks, paths and gardens guide movement through a site

• Gates and doors limit points of entry to a site or building

• Signs direct movement, provide information, define appropriate activities and schedules and identify intended users (e.g., “Employees Only”)

Take advantage of design to provide opportunities to see and be seen. This includes opportunities to see from adjacent properties or the site perimeter onto the site, and possibly to see parking areas and buildings; opportunities to see from one part of the site to another; and opportunities to see parking, walkways and other areas of the site from various locations inside the building. Examples:

• Lighting improves the ability to observe activity and identify individuals

• Windows afford views from inside to outside and outside to inside

• Building location and orientation can create or remove views

• Proper selection of trees, shrubs and other plant species, combined with regular maintenance, can minimize the conflict between lighting and landscaping and ensure that views on, off and around the site are preserved over the long-term

Use design to define ownership and encourage maintenance of territories. As mentioned previously, the design should provide cues about who belongs in a place and what they are allowed to do. Examples:

• Fences, hedges, tree lines or planter boxes separate spaces

• Changes in elevation, or variations in paving or flooring materials, define transitions from public to private spaces

• Gardens, artwork and furniture individualize spaces and show that someone cares and is paying attention

• Signs establish ownership and any limits on use

• Buildings, yards, gardens, sidewalks and other features are well maintained, clean and in working order, which is a sign of guardianship

Note that while CPTED is a crime prevention program, it focuses on design, not safety, and on productive use, not security. Design features should be “supported” by locks, CCTV and alarms.

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