Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

“CPTED is the proper design and effective use of the built environment which may lead to
a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime, and an improvement of the quality of life.”

National Crime Prevention Institute

We live with crime every day. It has become, unfortunately, a fact of life. Discussions on the subject have traditionally focused much less on crime prevention than on arrest and punishment; a measure that cannot be taken until after a crime has been committed. Only in the last 20 years have designers and architects begun to see the need to plan and build with more in mind than just the traditional threats of nature: fire, earthquakes and hurricanes. They must now consider the threat of crime.

Enter a new approach to crime prevention – Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design – or CPTED. Much more far-reaching than dead bolts on doors and locks on windows, CPTED crime prevention principles can be applied easily and inexpensively to building or remodeling, and have been implemented in communities across the nation. The results have been impressive; in some CPTED communities, criminal activity has decreased by as much as 40 percent. What is the secret to CPTED crime prevention? It is a design that eliminates or reduces criminal behavior and at the same time encourages people to “keep an eye out” for each other. These are just a few of the ingredients that go into creating an effective CPTED crime prevention environment; that is, a safer more livable community.

The Four Strategies of CPTED

1. Natural Surveillance – A design concept directed primarily at keeping intruders easily observable. This is promoted by features that maximize visibility of people, parking areas and building entrances: doors and windows that look out onto streets and parking areas; pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and streets; front porches; adequate nighttime lighting.

2. Territorial Reinforcement – Physical design can create or extend a sphere of influence. Users then develop a sense of territorial control while potential offenders, perceiving this control, are discouraged. This is promoted by features that define property lines and distinguish private spaces from public spaces using landscape plantings, pavement designs, gateway treatments, and “CPTED” fences.

3. Natural Access Control – A design concept directed primarily at decreasing crime opportunity by denying access to crime targets and creating in offenders a perception of risk. This is gained by designing streets, sidewalks, building entrances and neighborhood gateways to clearly indicate public routes and discouraging access to private areas with structural elements.

4. Target Hardening – This is accomplished by features that prohibit entry or access: window locks, dead bolts for doors, interior door hinges.