Use your environment to your advantage.

That’s the idea behind Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.

Originating in the 1960s, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design – or CPTED – was based, in part, on the “Broken Windows Theory” that suggests one broken window on a neglected home would ultimately encourage vandals and trespassers to break another, then another, and so on.

CPTED was later developed as a multi-disciplinary approach to preventing crime through the strategic design and manipulation of a physical environment.

CPTED is intended to eliminate the opportunity for crime by utilizing components of the environment – such as landscaping, seating, lighting, and more – to control access, improve surveillance, maintain territorial boundaries, and clearly designate property ownership.

Perhaps most importantly, CPTED is a communal effort, and not solely seen as the responsibility of law enforcement or property management.

It requires a dedicated team of people – from community members to designers to law enforcement officials. In fact, CPTED is meant to encourage the entire community to keep watch, facilitating meaningful interaction between members and neighbors.

CPTED strategies are essential for:

  • City planners and managers
  • Council members
  • Architects
  • Security consultants
  • Educators
  • Designers
  • And more!

When implemented at the onset of a neighborhood or property’s design process, CPTED can also provide the most efficient, cost-effective means of security, creating a more organically safe environment without contributing to a sense of isolation or claustrophobia.

CPTED operates on four driving principles:

  • Natural access control – Criminals operate under an impression of control. Natural access control relieves them of this perception and replaces it with one of risk. It is meant to eliminate direct access to potential targets, such as a bank teller or a clerk, by implementing barriers that must be navigated. Landscaping and other environmental elements can be used to channel foot and automobile traffic into defined, highly visible areas.
  • Natural surveillance – Criminals are far less likely to act if they believed they are being watched or monitored. Natural surveillance accomplishes this by:
    • Keeping areas well-lit.
    • Eliminating potential hiding spots.
    • Implementing CCTV cameras to make it known that a property is under continuous video surveillance.
    • Using features such as windowed stairwells and parking lots visible from sidewalks to improve sightlines for legitimate community members.
  • Territoriality – This concept encourages individuals to take control of their environment and defend it against attack. It is also meant to clearly differentiate between private and public property, incorporating signage suggesting a property is regularly maintained and monitored.
  • Maintenance – Linked to territoriality is the notion of maintenance. Properties should be well-maintained, and security components – such as lighting and landscaping – kept in good working order.

When implemented properly, and with the full support of a community and its architects, CPTED can improve the perception of safety and livability in a public area.

Today, various CPTED courses have also been designed for school students and faculty to promote safety and orderly behavior and reduce fear on campuses throughout the country.

Secom’s emergency response personnel recently earned the National Institute for Crime Prevention’s CPTED Professional Designation (CPD). This expertise goes hand in glove with our physical security solutions, maximizing their effectiveness while helping us to prioritize the proper security systems for our clients. Contact us today to learn more.