Publications and other papers

Safer Places: The Planning System and Crime Prevention (2004) UK Government guidance.

Annex 2 (p87) comprises a note by me entitled ‘Reconciling evidence of what works, knowledge of crime reduction and community safety principles, and values’.

Redesigning the Language and Concepts of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (2009) Unpublished paper. Updated version (2013) below.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a familiar field of practice. But it has serious limitations. This article describes an ongoing attempt to update its concepts and procedures and link them more closely to developments in architecture, design and practical/theoretical criminology, so CPTED can both benefit from these infusions and in turn share its distinctive contribution more widely.  Additional aims are to stimulate thinking among existing CPTED theorists and practitioners, to help potential new users of CPTED to be critical, and to put them all in a position to actively participate in the improvement process. The article very briefly reprises the basic principles of CPTED, as they are now; identifies major problems and limitations of CPTED; and suggests strategic directions for CPTED to evolve, and hopefully improve. I illustrate how concepts and terminology of territoriality and surveillance might evolve into a sharper state so they are fit to connect to both mainstream criminology and design.

Guest editor’s introduction, thematic issue of European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research on New Thinking on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (2011)

Includes a redefinition in depth of CPTED (originally set out in the 2009 paper above) addressing a range of strategic issues.  CPTED is:

    • Reducing the possibility, probability and harm from criminal and related events, and enhancing the quality of life through community safety,
    • Through the processes of planning and design of the environment,
    • On a range of scales and types of place, from individual buildings and interiors to wider landscapes, neighbourhoods and cities,
    • To produce designs that are ‘fit for purpose’, contextually appropriate in all other respects and not ‘vulnerability led’,
    • Whilst achieving a balance between
      • the efficiency of avoiding crime problems before construction
      • and the adaptability of tackling them through subsequent management and maintenance.

The emphasis is on process, so the definition is deliberately not confined to any particular products or kinds of intervention.

Deconstructing CPTED… and reconstructing it for practice, knowledge management and research (2011)

This paper describes the latest stage of an ongoing attempt to update and upgrade CPTED’s concepts and actions and link them more closely to developments in architecture, design and crime science.  The concept of territoriality, for example, is central to the practice domain of CPTED. Yet territoriality is only vaguely defined within that domain, as are the other core concepts such as activity support and target hardening; and all of them confusingly intersect and overlap. The paper attempts a remedy by developing a suite of definitions in depth, relating the core concepts to various frameworks and discourses developed for crime prevention and design against crime, and more generally exploring ways in which CPTED could become richer and more subtle. It will also consider the ‘dark side’ of the environment, covering offenders’ countermoves to prevention and their own counter-exploitation of space, buildings and what they contain.  The ultimate intention is to produce a more rigorous, yet deeper and better-integrated conception of CPTED useful for practice, research and theory alike.  The paper should be considered as work in progress, indicating what might be possible and stimulating debate rather than offering a definitive resolution of the issue. Further steps are suggested and constructive contributions from readers are invited.

Key words:  access control, activity support, CPTED, crime prevention, defensible space, image and maintenance, surveillance, target-hardening, territoriality

Ekblom, P., Armitage, R., Monchuk, L. and Castell, B. (2013) ‘Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design in the United Arab Emirates – A suitable case for re-orientation?’ Built Environment, 39 (1): 92-113.

In the field of CPTED, theorists and practitioners alike readily acknowledge the need to design buildings and layouts that closely fit the local context and wider design requirements, including aesthetics, social conditions, and development and construction constraints. Crime prevention functions cannot simply be imposed or bolted on while ignoring local circumstances and other priorities such as energy conservation. But getting crime prevention designs to work successfully can be tricky because they rarely act directly (as with putting high walls around a building), but exert their preventive effect by motivating and directing the actions of people such as residents, managers and passers-by, and deterring offenders. Crime prevention designs for the built environment can thus rarely be mass-produced but must be customized to local conditions. CPTED evolved in Western countries, with commonalities of culture and built environment, despite variations, for example, in climate between Northern Europe and Australia. Transferring CPTED to other regions such as the United Arab Emirates therefore poses even more of a challenge, where there are marked differences not just in terms of climate but also in culture pertaining, for example to privacy, ownership of property, development control and tradition. Recent experience in researching international good practice and standards for application in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, is used to illustrate these contextual differences, to draw broader lessons for CPTED, and to discuss the challenges to cross-cultural knowledge transfer in crime prevention.

Redesigning the language and concepts of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Updated version of 2009 paper, above. 6th Ajman International Urban Planning Conference: City and Security, UAE, 2013.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a familiar field of practice. But it has serious limitations. This paper describes an ongoing attempt to update its concepts and procedures and link them more closely to developments in architecture, design and practical/theoretical criminology, from which it is currently rather isolated. The intention is to enable CPTED both to benefit from these infusions and in turn share its distinctive contribution more widely. Additional aims are to stimulate thinking among existing CPTED theorists and practitioners, to help potential new users of CPTED to be critical and aware of their cultural and practical context, and to put them all in a position to actively participate in the improvement process. The paper briefly reprises the basic principles of CPTED, as they are now; identifies major problems and limitations of CPTED; indicates strategic directions for CPTED to evolve towards, and hopefully improve; and to help realise the strategy, puts forward a sharper definition of the field.

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