Creating Safe Places to Live Through Design - Research Helps Police Forces to Influence Future of Housing

Creating Safe Places to Live Through Design: Research Helps Police Forces to Influence Future of Housing

Creating Safe Places to Live Through Design, Design Council Cabe research on how the design of modern urban housing developments affects crime, is available to be used by police forces across the country to help influence the layout and design of new proposed neighbourhoods and prevent crime. The multi-year study - funded by the Home Office - looked at the design features of high density urban housing developments and identified the key areas where poor design can lead to an increase in crime, anti-social behaviour and neighbour disputes - which put an added strain on local police resources.

The report highlighted the following key design features to watch out for:

- large rear parking courts
- paths and spaces that are not overlooked
- poorly-designed corner properties
- relying on gating a development as the only means to deliver security
- 'leaky' cul-de-sacs which have pedestrian access between them

Launched only six weeks ago, the research has been accessed by over 4,000 users to help communities, local authority planners and developers and police work together to ensure that good design and crime reduction are key considerations in future schemes. The research has received very positive feedback from crime prevention design advisors in many of the UK's police forces, who have been using it extensively to help ensure that crime-reducing measures are factored into proposed new housing developments.

"This is up to date research that is very positive and greatly helps in designing against crime and underpins the principles of Secured by Design," said Michael Clare, a Crime Prevention Design Advisor for Thames Valley police. "If adopted by developers and architects it means that for the lifetime of development there will be less crime and anti social behaviour, which will be beneficial for future residents and users."

The study was run in collaboration with academics from the University of Huddersfield, working with crime prevention design advisors in local police forces and planning authorities. It looked at a variety of developments in three areas of the country - Greater Manchester, Kent and West Midlands. Researchers conducted detailed site visits to developments to analyse and map specific design features and layouts, examined the recorded crime in the scheme, and interviewed neighbourhood policing teams and crime prevention design advisors.

The crimes the teams looked at included burglary, theft of and from vehicles, robbery, theft from the person, assault and criminal damage. Although the project did not set out to include anti-social behaviour or neighbour disputes, much of the feedback from local police and planners, particularly during site visits, showed that such incidents were more common than actual recorded crime and resulted in police or local authority resources being used to attend and resolve matters.

"Communities are becoming more involved in the design of future developments around them," said David Kester, Chief Executive of Design Council Cabe. "This ground-breaking study helps equip them to work with developers and planners to put good design at the heart of creating places which are attractive, safe and successful, which has far-reaching social and economic benefits."

Until now, there has been a lack of evidence about the relationship between the design of what are generally considered to be 'good' contemporary urban developments (i.e not poorly-designed 1960s or 1970s estates) and the levels of crime and anti-social behaviour experienced in and around them.