Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

Source: FEMA

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts have been successfully applied in a wide variety of applications including streets, parks, museums, government buildings, houses and office complexes. The approach is particularly applicable to older buildings that were designed and constructed 30 or more years ago.

Security issues were almost nonexistent at that time and technology was dramatically different. As a result building designs are not always compatible with today’s more security-conscious environment.

CPTED builds on these four strategies:

  • Natural Access Control (judicial placing of entrances, exits, fencing, landscaping and lighting)
  • Natural Surveillance (placing physical features, activities and people to maximize visibility)
  • Territorial Reinforcement  (using buildings, fences, pavement, signs and landscaping to express ownership)
  • Target Hardening (adding features that prohibit entry or access: window locks, dead bolts for doors, interior door hinges.

A CPTED analysis of a building evaluates crime rates and stability as well as core design shortcomings of the physical environment (e.g. blind hallways, uncontrolled entries or abandoned areas that attract problem behavior). The application of CPTED principles starts with a threat and vulnerability analysis to determine the potential for attack and what needs to be protected. In many cases protecting a building from physical attack by criminal behavior or terrorist activity only reflects a change in the level and types of threats.

The CPTED process asks questions about territoriality, natural surveillance and access control that can:

  • Increase the effort to commit crime or terrorism
  • Increase the risks associated with crime or terrorism
  • Reduce the rewards associated with crime or terrorism
  • Remove the excuses as to why people do not comply with rules and behave inappropriately

The CPTED process provides direction to solve the challenges of crime and terrorism with organizational (people), mechanical (technology and hardware) and natural design (architecture and circulation flow) methods.

CPTED guidelines can go a long way towards making an environment safe. CPTED can eliminate problem areas such as badly-lighted parking lots, blind alleys and public telephones stuffed in darkened corners.  Hopefully, along with the feelings of safety and security that CPTED brings, will come a feeling of responsibility for our neighbor.