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Design safer surroundings

To help prevent crime in your neighbourhood, take a look at your surroundings. Are your streets, walking paths, parks, areas around homes and other public spaces designed in a way to maximize safety? An increasingly popular and effective method of planning is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).

CPTED design ideas can be used to plan cities, suburbs, neighbourhoods, parks, places of business and homes. They include:

1.    Natural surveillance: This is the placement of physical features, activities and people to maximize natural visibility or observation.

  • Provide unobstructed views of surrounding area.
  • Keep areas appropriately lit.
  • Ensure entrances to homes and buildings have a clear line of sight from the inside and outside.
  • Eliminate barriers that create hiding spots (thick hedges, for example).

2.    Natural access control: Good access control deters offenders from easily accessing a target and creates a sense of risk for them.

  • Use curbing and landscaping to direct car and foot traffic into controlled and visible areas.

3.    Territorial reinforcement: Create a sense of ownership for users of the space by defining clear borders from public to semi-private to private.

  • Use fencing, shrubs or different building materials (bricks and asphalt, for example) to define the space for its intended purpose.
  • Display Neighbourhood Watch signs in your community.

4.    Maintenance: By keeping an area well-maintained, a community can ensure that the space is regularly used for its intended purpose.

  • Keep your streets, walkways, parks and public spaces well-maintained; this  sends the message that your community notices and cares about what happens.

Some of the CPTED tactics you can use to make your neighbourhood look and feel safer include:

  • reduce the number of entry and exit points on a block
  • maximize residents’ ability to view public spaces
  • encourage residents’ positive use of public spaces
  • ensure there is appropriate lighting for streets, paths, alleys and parks
  • encourage residents to watch over each other

Take the time to evaluate your surroundings together with your neighbours or local Neighbourhood Watch program. Then establish an action plan to make required improvements.

*Did you know that a CPTED audit can be done on plans before a park or building is ever built? Now that’s something to think about!*

For more information about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, visit CPTED Ontario, the RCMP website or the Women’s Initiatives for Safer Environments (WISE).

If you have a specific idea or question about integrating CPTED into your community, contact your local Community Police Centre.