Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design 5
Crime Prevention through Environmental Design
Crime prevention through environmental design, otherwise known as CPTED, is an innovative approach based on the idea that crime can be prevented through effective environment and site design (Virginia, 4). This concept suggests that with proper urban planning and architectural design, a significant reduction in crime will occur, resulting in individuals feeling safer in their communities and an improvement in the quality of life (Virginia, 4). According to the article, “Crime Prevention through Environmental Design: General Guidelines for Designing Safer Communities”, the CPTED approach is based on four key elements: natural surveillance, natural access control, territorial reinforcement and maintenance (Virginia, 8). Essentially, these four concepts refer to the idea that by manipulating the environment, a criminal can be dissuaded from committing a crime. After reading the assigned articles and gaining a better understanding of CPTED, I found myself wondering if this approach could be used to combat the street gang problem in Canada. What immediately came to mind was an amalgamation of the CPTED philosophy combined with Chettleburgh’s sixteen-point gang prevention plan (Chettleburgh, 208). However, for purposes of this reaction paper, I will focus solely on the implementation of the CPTED model.
Specifically in Canada, when we think of the street gang problem, we often envision neighbourhoods and communities similar to those of the “Jane and Finch” area in Toronto, and various Native reserves. Images of isolated communities living in filthy and unsanitary conditions come to mind, combined with a dark and dingy atmosphere. With these conditions, coupled with economic despair, it is no surprise that the environment becomes a breeding ground for gangs and violent behaviour. According to the CPTED approach, focusing on environmental revitalization could result in a significant reduction in gang behaviour, and its associated violent activities.
If we look specifically at the element of natural surveillance, creating an atmosphere where potential criminals can be seen and monitored by the community residents, will result in a significant decline in gang violence. The idea behind this concept is that criminals, or in this case gang members, will refrain from committing criminal acts if the possibility of being caught or monitored is increased. By changing the environmental design of a neighbourhood or dwelling to become more open, well-lit and visible, the end result will be less opportunity for crime to occur. More specifically, apartments should be designed with exterior doors being made visible from the street, and installing windows on all four facades of the building to encourage ongoing surveillance (Virginia, 12). With respects to gang violence, I particularly like the suggestion that elevators and stairwells should be well-lit ...