GREGORY SAVILLE · MATEJA MIHINJAC
GREGORY SAVILLE · MATEJA MIHINJAC
SOCIAL AMNESIA IN CPTED? FOR GOODNESS SAKES, READ THE SCIENCE! by Gregory SavilleRead Now
by Gregory Saville
Happy birthday to Canada (July 1) and to the USA (July 4). Why mention this? Because the US, and to a lesser extent Canada, are the birthplace countries of CPTED – Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.
Some say CPTED began with my old friend Professor C. Ray Jeffery’s 1971 CPTED book. Some credit Canadian-born architect Oscar Newman’s 1972 book on American architecture - Defensible Space. But CPTED truly began with American/Canadian journalist Jane Jacobs’ 1961 book about American planning – The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
A decade after Jacobs’ book, CPTED began in Canada when it was presented at a University of Toronto criminology workshop in 1975. One criminologist at that event, Professor Gwyn Nettler, challenged CPTED to do the necessary scientific research to prove the theory. How, he asked, was it possible to do crime prevention with such poor quality social science of the 1970s? In other words, don’t just make stuff up.
I first studied defensible space and CPTED at university in the late 1970s. Many years later I spoke to Lew Haines, director of the Westinghouse CPTED studies in the 1970s, and urban planner Richard Schneider who implemented CPTED planning in Hartford in the 1970s. Those were the first-ever tests of CPTED. They used a principle called “motive reinforcement” for community-building tactics. They did not describe target hardening as a CPTED principle.
Eventually, traditional CPTED removed the social aspects of motive reinforcement from the theory. Traditional CPTED now includes target hardening, a concept Jeffery and Jacobs could not care one whit about.
In CPTED books of the 1990s, traditional CPTED bore little resemblance to what Jeffery was recommending at the beginning. The truth is so-called traditional CPTED is nothing like the social ecology and interdisciplinary model in Jeffery’s writing. THAT was his point at a keynote address at the 1998 ICA CPTED conference in Mississauga, Canada.
How can we know the difference in CPTED between fluff and the right stuff? Based on Nettler’s principles, and as Carl Sagan once said, here are some basic theory-building steps:
Attempts to rewrite CPTED theory did not use these principles and ended up with ‘crime opportunity’ (aka, target hardening). Check the logic. Traditional CPTED – aka 1st Generation CPTED – became devoid of social factors. The largest bibliography on CPTED lists over 700 studies. For goodness sake, read at least some of the publications.
A C. RAY JEFFERY MOMENT
That brings me to a recent blog of Tom McKay, a CPTED leader from Ontario. Tom is a former Peel Regional Police constable and he did CPTED duties after I retired from Peel Police having done the same thing. Tom is truly an exceptional fellow and went on to co-found CPTED Ontario. He was one of the original board members of the International CPTED Association. I have great respect for Tom McKay and his passion for CPTED.
Thus, it was with great disappointment I read a recent blog by him suggesting that both 2nd and 3rd Generation CPTED “run the real danger of confusing the utility of traditional concepts… and trivializing and or burying traditional concepts in an increasingly unwieldy model that bears little resemblance to the traditional CPTED flowchart”.
Traditional CPTED, as it is now understood, was never promoted by C. Ray Jeffery. None of Jeffery’s ideas made it into the 1990s, only Newman’s. As criminologists Mateja Mihinjac and Danielle Reynald point out in a 2017 study, “contemporary CPTED is, owing to its practical applicability, largely based upon Newman’s original conceptualization.”
That is what Jeffery was getting at.
Tom recounts the opening address of C. Ray Jeffery at the Mississauga ICA CPTED conference. I was the one who brought Jeffery to that conference and published his remarks in the ICA Newsletter. I was teaching at Florida State University’s school of criminology and Professor Jeffery’s office was nearby. He was my colleague, my mentor, and my friend. I know his dictum that CPTED should “study crime in terms of the science of ecology and call for interdisciplinary research”. Jeffery’s point was that Newman’s defensible space (aka “traditional CPTED principles”) was the problem.
In fact, 2nd and 3rd Generation CPTED were created to better align CPTED with the actual theory described by Jeffery. They are enhancements to the original theory and they are expansive and interdisciplinary – precisely what Jeffery was demanding.
THE SECOND-GENERATION ANTIDOTE
Second Generation CPTED has been around for two decades and has numerous scientific research studies published by members of the International CPTED Association.
Second Generation CPTED is neither new nor unproven. In fact it is now formally incorporated into the new ISO (International Standards Organization) CPTED standard, published worldwide last month, in part developed by members of the International CPTED Association. There is also the upcoming School CPTED Guidebook published by the ICA. It is the first formal document describing steps toward 1st, 2nd and 3rd Generation CPTED to prevent violence in schools.
You do not automatically do 2nd Generation CPTED if you teach 1st Generation CPTED “correctly” – an absurd idea I recently heard from a confused practitioner applying for CPTED certification.
Second Generation CPTED builds on decades of research demonstrating some very precise principles such as social cohesion, community culture, and neighborhood capacity issues like blighted housing.
Tom cites an article by Sally Merry in her attempt to categorize early CPTED. Ironically, Merry bases her ideas partly on British criminologist R. Mawby. Unfortunately, Mawby makes the opposite conclusion to Merry. He criticized Defensible Space for its lack of attention to factors such as social class and income. In other words, traditional CPTED of that time, as now, was silent on the social ecology of a neighborhood. That is the point Jeffery made in Mississauga.
CPTED in this “traditional” form is NOT about the social fabric in a community. If social programs are intentionally incorporated into this form of CPTED training, they are done so in spite of this early writing, not because of it.
With a few notable exceptions, social factors were washed out of early CPTED before the 1990s. In the so-called traditional CPTED, social fabric of crime is subsumed into fun-to-add artifacts of a CPTED program (neighborhood watch to enhance natural surveillance is not 2nd Generation CPTED). That is not the social ecology described by Jeffery.
SOCIAL AMNESIA IN TRADITIONAL CPTED
Jacobs was about healthy neighborhoods – places where people had plenty of pro-social behaviors and less exposures to crime. She described the crime prevention power of such activities as “tree planting, traffic calming, and community events.”
Newman realized his mistake in describing Defensible Space in physical terms that downplayed social factors. He restated his theory in his 1980 book “Community of Interest”.
But by then the traditional CPTED die was cast. CPTED courses far and wide taught territorial and access controls, natural surveillance, target hardening, landscaping, lighting, and so on. Go and research CPTED lesson plans on Google (basic or “advanced”… no matter). See for yourself.
As for 2nd Generation CPTED, that has been taught for over a decade. We’ve taught it to residents, police officers, urban designers, community groups, and many others – like those in a New Orleans high-crime neighborhood – and they love it. They do not find these models confusing or unwieldy. They find them logical, and scientific, and they get positive results. They use 1st Generation CPTED, but they no longer stop with physical modifications. They build the capacity of their neighborhood so they have some say in their own safety. We argue this is the kind of CPTED that addresses Jeffery’s true concepts.
In the free marketplace of ideas, all are welcome. Let scientific methods, logic, and original research guide the way.
THE THIRD-GENERATION BREAKTHROUGH
A few years ago Mateja Mihinjac and I launched the most Jefferyesque version of CPTED since Mississauga – 3rd Generation CPTED. We spent years carefully examining the original CPTED theory. Mateja is completing her doctorate in CPTED and I have published prevention theories and studies for 35 years. We were careful to follow theory-building principles, and, true to Nettler and Sagan, our propositions and hypotheses aligned with the logic of theory-building and recent supporting research. We did not just make it up.
Third Generation CPTED is the newest kid on the theoretical CPTED block. Its scientific development is still underway. But make no mistake - there is already a significant body of evidence in support and 3rd Generation CPTED. It represents an exciting way to help our 21st Century city residents figure out how to build more inclusive, ethical, and sustainable communities as we grow into the future.
That is the Jeffery moment I am having.
NEW ERA FOR NEIGHBOURHOODS - THE LATEST IN 3RD GENERATION CPTED by Mateja MihinjacRead Now
by Mateja Mihinjac
The birth of a new theory is not a straightforward matter, especially in social science or urban planning. A few years ago, when my co-author Greg Saville and I published our proposal for a Third Generation CPTED in the research journal, Social Sciences, we built on a decade of theories in crime prevention, including our own work in SafeGrowth. We described how, for over 60 years, theoreticians and practitioners learned how to prevent crime using the natural and built physical environment (1st Generation CPTED), and then in the late 1990s added social strategies to that local prescription (2nd Generation CPTED).
Over the past decade, our cities and neighbourhoods faced new and unprecedented challenges that demand that we think in a much more integrated way about safety.
In 2019 we presented Third Generation CPTED as that new integrated approach.
We built this theory on the premise that it is not sufficient to consider CPTED apart from the idea of liveability if we want a better quality of life within neighbourhoods. Our neighbourhoods – our core units of life, work and play – must offer opportunities for satisfying not only our basic needs (what psychologist Abraham Maslow called our physiological and safety needs) but also our needs at the medium and higher levels – needs of self-esteem and self-actualization. This is known as Maslow’s human needs hierarchy pyramid.
Our theory translated that pyramid into a hierarchy of liveable neighbourhoods, and our 3rd Generation CPTED was the key to elevating our quality of life.
After the past few years of additional development, we presented the full model at the recent International CPTED Association international conference. This latest version of the theory will also appear in a forthcoming academic publication.
The most recent advances in this theory include the following 4 S strategies for achieving those liveability outcomes.
THE 4 S STRATEGIES
I first introduced the 4 S strategies in a blog several months ago. Here I will describe some specifics for practitioners.
Liveability and sustainability are intrinsically linked. Some scholars say that communities cannot be sustainable unless people want to live in them and people need to have a say in identifying their preferences to ensure long-term environmental, economic and social impacts. This is the whole point to sustainability and so within 3rd Generation CPTED, we have four sustainability strategies.
Environmental sustainability is the most frequent topic discussed in relation to urban development, safety, and liveability. Evidence shows a strong link between environmental stressors (heat islands, lack of greenery, long-distance travel) and crime. Third Generation CPTED practitioners will apply tactics that help improve environmental liveability, such as the greening of neighbourhoods, greening of vacant lots to reduce crime, and building on local assets.
Social sustainability points to people-focused design and it promotes opportunities for social interaction and collaboration, such as pedestrian infrastructure, gathering places, and Third Places.
It includes building a physical “command centre” – or neighbourhood hub – for local decision-making. An early version of neighbourhood hubs was described in an earlier SafeGrowth blog.
The goal of social sustainability is social cohesion and resilience through grassroots urban design where the residents have direct influence and stewardship over the local neighbourhood. Social sustainability can help prevent the seeds of criminality from taking root before they become unmanageable. SafeGrowth offers one such approach.
Research continually shows the indisputable relationship between income inequality, disadvantage and crime. Focusing on the immediate economy through investment in neighbourhood infrastructure and economic development is one antidote to some of the issues that are endemic to crime. Third Generation practitioners, residents and business partners can use tactics such as local partnerships, a focus on local creativity, and business incubation.
Practitioners can also implement tailored employment transition and reintegration programs for those with a criminal history so they don’t fall back into habits of gang membership, violence, and drug abuse. Neighbourhood economic sustainability has a direct impact on breaking the cycle of criminal recidivism.
Public health sustainability
Public health sustainability refers to enduring physical and emotional health. At a time of Covid, it seems redundant to make this point, but the fact is that urban design and social cohesion are correlated with outdoor pedestrian movements, the use of physical infrastructure, the perception of safety and trust among neighbourhood residents. Those are not only part of public health but they are part of the psychology that can trigger, or mitigate, crime motives.
Residents should have opportunities to co-create neighbourhood plans for amenities to promote health. In particular, these include amenities such as testing facilities and counselling to monitor unchecked trauma experienced by children during their formative years. Neighbourhood and family trauma, such as substance abuse, violence, and social dysfunction, have a direct impact on offending behaviour and violence, especially in later years. We have written about similar issues such as suicide prevention in prior blogs.
Emotional intelligence programs, perhaps offered at neighbourhood hubs, offer a great tool for assisting both young people and adults to learn self-awareness tactics, mindfulness skills and pro-social behaviours. Third Generation provides CPTED with a way to remove some of the breeding grounds for future criminal behaviour in a way that better lighting and access controls cannot accomplish.
EXTENDING THE DISCOURSE
Third Generation CPTED is obviously much more complex than basic CPTED tactics. Practitioners need a wider set of competencies and collaborative methods and forums for discussing and deploying such an integrated approach.
It extends beyond simple opportunities for crime - not that there is anything wrong with cutting crime opportunities! Rather, and more to the point, 1st Generation CPTED is simply insufficient in the contemporary 21st Century neighbourhood if we want a higher quality of life in the long term.
The 4 S strategies amalgamate crime prevention, safety with neighbourhood liveability. Third Generation CPTED offers strategies so that we can realise many of our long-term, highest level, personal needs within our own neighbourhoods. Most importantly, by extending the discourse of public safety and crime prevention beyond the focus on crime, we can create opportunities for a different kind of neighbourhood in which residents will not only survive but thrive.
by Mateja Mihinjac
As a CPTED professional, I experience the socio-physical environment in a more critical and analytical way than a general person. I observe features that may stimulate pro-social conduct as well as those that may offer opportunities for undesirable behaviour or even promote risk for users of those spaces. And yet, the decisions concerning the planning of public space are not straightforward.
Public benches represent one such conundrum. I’ve written previously that knee jerk reactions, such as removal of public benches, are common in an attempt to eliminate social problems such as unwanted loitering, sleeping on public benches, or vandalism.
Yet these decisions often come with the realisation that they don’t address the problem but rather displace it. They become tools of exclusion.
Can a humble public bench become a tool of inclusion?
MORE THAN A BENCH
As Kelsey I. Sagrero writes in her thesis Socializing Public Space: Benches in the Urban Setting, a bench can be more than just a bench. When planned with its function in mind, it can be a tool that attracts people and promotes social interaction in public spaces. Thus, she writes, we should make benches an intentional part of social spaces in which they are situated to promote social interaction and inclusivity of diverse groups. As such, a bench represents an important part of public social life.
One such initiative comes from the UK with strategically placed “Happy to chat” benches. The purpose of those benches is to promote conversation for their users and address the problem of loneliness and alienation, especially amongst the elderly.
In my exploration of the City of Helsingborg, Sweden, I also came across some interesting examples of benches that instantly attracted my attention.
The first was pride rainbow benches painted ahead of the 2021 Helsingborg Pride Festival. The purpose of the benches was to demonstrate that expression of diversity and inclusion are not limited to the LGBTQ community alone and are an important conversation starter in urban space.
The second was yellow friendship benches situated in different areas around the city. They attracted my attention with their happy bright yellow colour and a sign “A hello can save a life”. These benches intend to raise awareness of mental illness and suicide and to offer support through care and respect for one another through informal interpersonal conversations.
As these public benches have become places for promoting social interaction and conversations, and thus a form of third places, they have also become tools of social messaging that reflects societal struggles and sentiments and advances the conversation on important topics such as diversity, inclusion, and mental health.
It's fascinating how a humble piece of street furniture can serve such an important social role in public life.
by Gregory Saville
I recently spoke to some senior administrators about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and how they might use it to cut crime. They knew a little about the concept, but it was clear that they had been victims of fake news. It brought to mind an old question in philosophy: What does authentic actually mean? Why should you care?
You should care because many of the ingredients that flavor a high-quality life depend on authentic products, systems, and technologies that we now take for granted. Consider food and water. Governments regulate and inspect our food/water supply and require that those who produce or ship it must follow standards of hygiene and public health.
Millions of deaths throughout history were caused by infected food or unregulated water systems that transmitted diseases like typhoid. Today, mass deaths from food or water are rare in most of the developed world and, thankfully, increasingly rare in the undeveloped world. Authentic public health matters.
It’s the same in crime prevention. Authenticity matters a great deal for your own livability.
CPTED AND AUTHENTICITY
How does one determine authentic CPTED and effective crime prevention?
Dictionaries describe authenticity as something supported by unquestionable evidence and verified and accepted as real “because of agreement with known facts or experience.”
There is a great Ted Talk by Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist and cognitive psychologist, who describes ways to compare authentic facts from fake news. I have drawn on some tips from Dr. Levitin, and applied them to crime prevention and CPTED:
“LIES ARE TUCKED INTO THE TRUTH”
Early writing about CPTED described cutting hedges for better visibility and territorial markers to help residents control their own properties. That was 50 years ago and crime prevention science has learned much since then. CPTED has grown up. It now includes 2nd Generation CPTED to build community cohesion and pro-social activities. CPTED is no longer just surveillance, blight removal or painting murals to enhance community pride. If you want to know the latest, go to the website of the only non-profit, professional and international organization for CPTED – the International CPTED Association (ICA), or the regional affiliate chapters of the ICA.
“WEBSITES MASQUERADE UNDER MISLEADING NAMES”
When searching online for CPTED expertise or training be careful to locate names, bios and expertise of those behind the website or delivering the course. If you cannot easily find those names, bios, or expertise - in plain view - go elsewhere. Never assume because the website claims it is a “national” center or it provides “certification” that is true. Check to see if they are affiliated with the ICA. Check to see if that site is for-profit, or non-profit. Follow the money!
Does that website provide the names of a diverse group of experts with a wide variety of experience, because that is how CPTED actually works. Otherwise, you are probably dealing with a small group of for-profit consultants – usually retired police or security. Don’t misunderstand; I have no problem with for-profit consultants with policing, criminology or urban planning expertise (I am one of them!) But, they come with different qualities, experiences and reputations. As they say – caveat emptor.
“CLAIMS THAT REST ON FALSE SOURCES”
The problem in CPTED today is “authorities” who do not read the source material or the related scientific research. They make wild claims like “lighting prevents crime”. It doesn’t! With the right research and in the right context, it might help! But that’s far from a done deal. Or they offer inauthentic facts and claim “eyes on the street” cut crime. Strategies like natural surveillance or even CCTV might help in the right location, with the right pre-diagnosis. But that is not a definitive fact. Claiming otherwise is not only inauthentic, it’s wrong.
If you want authentic expertise, read historical bibliographies of the science, read the latest studies, or ask a formally certified CPTED practitioner who holds a professional certification from the ICA. Embrace authenticity.
GUEST BLOG - Lilit Houlder is an urban planner working with a consulting firm in Edmonton, Canada. She is the most recent member of the SafeGrowth team and in this blog she describes her observations of the urban homeless in the middle of a global pandemic – a situation far too common across the developed world.
Edmonton has the largest number of unsheltered homeless people living within a Canadian city - approximately 1,070 persons.
While there are many support services, there are not enough beds or shelter spaces. This poses a problem for Edmonton, which is a place also known as a winter city. With temperatures dropping significantly below freezing during its long winter season, the city has an emergency plan.
For temperatures below -30 Celsius, the city’s Sector Emergency Response program gets activated to provide free public transportation, essential services, security, and a place to sleep. The city encourages citizens to keep an eye out for anyone in distress during the extreme cold and contact the city response team. The program consists of 25 partner organizations that communicate with each other and share resources. Partnerships such as this strengthen the municipal capacity to address an intractable urban problem.
The city mustered money with support from provincial and federal governments to purchase and repurpose underutilized hotels and to run 24/7 shelters. All necessary supports are given in one place, and people can socially distance themselves to avoid the spread of COVID. This is similar to British Columbia’s legislation last year to use motels for the homeless, as reported in Jon Munn’s blog.
Purchasing and repurposing hotels is an initiative created by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to adopt more non-profit housing for homeless Canadians. Edmonton purchases hotels that would otherwise operate at extremely low capacities and become a financial burden on the landowners.
Some cities like Portland are creating temporary community support shelters, such as those reported by Tod Schneider. But with Edmonton’s much colder weather, another approach emerged that is showing up in cities across North America - repurposing civic facilities.
The city turned the Shaw Conference Center into a 24/7 shelter that offered space for socializing, COVID testing, treating basic medical and mental health needs, and connecting to other support services. What made this venue different is that it was large enough to provide users space for self-isolation if showing symptoms of COVID. Smaller spaces, such as local churches or community halls or community support shelters would not have had sufficient space to accommodate this unique challenge.
2ND GENERATION CPTED
Although deployed across an entire city versus a single neighbourhood, each of the municipal strategies underway in Edmonton emphasize the power of 2nd Generation CPTED principles as a way to respond to municipal social problems.
For example, connectivity tactics included linking to upper-level governments for resources and funding. Finding a civic space with enough capacity to house such a large population is, by definition, the very heart of the connectivity principle. It was the same for connections with the 25 organizations in the Sector Emergency Response program – they had the ability to bring food, health, financial support, clothing, and other resources to alleviate the suffering of people with no place to sleep.
Another example - By educating people about the needs of the homeless during the coldest time of the year, citizens across the entire city participated in watching for vulnerable people during extreme weather. Social cohesion at such a large scale in Edmonton illustrates that, when integrated into part of urban culture, citizens who are organized to work together on a common purpose can go a long way to making life safer for the most vulnerable.
by Mateja Mihinjac
A couple of weeks ago Greg Saville and I presented an online masterclass for the International CPTED Association in which we talked about the evolution of CPTED. We described the journey from the early urbanist and architectural influences in the Jacobs/Newman CPTED era through to the criminological, psychological and sociological research that informed our development of Third-Generation CPTED, a theory we introduced in 2019.
We described some of our most recent advancements to the theory and we presented four principles that inform liveable neighbourhoods – we call them the 4S of Third-Generation CPTED.
From the beginning of the CPTED movement, Florida State University’s Professor C. Ray Jeffery called for interconnections between all sorts of environments - from psychological and biological to urban and social - in order to create a truly “environmental” crime prevention.
Twenty years ago, South African researcher Chrisna Du Plessis made a similar connection between sustainable urban development, quality of life, and crime prevention. In 2014, Paul Cozens in Australia made the point that CPTED needed a much broader view of wider environments, specifically public health and urban sustainability. These authors, and others, laid the foundation for what we later developed into Third-Generation CPTED.
The story below describes how we consolidated that early work into a new, coherent theory of crime prevention.
AN INTEGRATED THEORY
One of the main characteristics of Third-Generation CPTED lies in the amalgamation of safety with neighbourhood liveability. The theory says that highly liveable neighbourhoods should offer opportunities to satisfy the basic, moderate, and also the highest-level human needs at the same time – a process that psychologist Abraham Maslow described as a hierarchy-of-human-needs.
This means that advanced neighbourhoods will have already addressed basic physiological, psychological, and social needs. When crime and safety risks emerge, that neighbourhood will have the capacity to proactively address them through collaborative local plans. In such places, residents themselves will have resources for pro-social activities, to engage in activities that satisfy what Maslow called self-actualization or access to activities that allow them to positively contribute to the lives of others beyond one’s self (Maslow describes this as self-transcendence).
When a neighbourhood has that kind of capacity, it becomes a thriving and collaborative place of joy, contentment, safety, and sustainability. For many, if not most, such neighbourhoods help children socialize and thrive, and adults gain personal fulfillment from the urban design, cultural excitement, and pro-social opportunities that flourish there. Opportunities for crime are minimized and opportunities for personal satisfaction are maximized. The key is to extend public safety and crime prevention beyond the simple focus on crime and onto the liveability and sustainability of neighbourhoods.
In Third-Generation CPTED we built neighbourhood liveability around four principles emerging directly from Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. These principles act as the framework for this integrated theory of crime prevention and they are centred around sustainability: environmental, economic, social, and public health sustainability. We call them 4S (sustainability x 4).
THE 4S AND THE LINK TO CRIME
There is research support for the preventive mechanisms in each of these four sustainability principles. For example, public health research demonstrates how physical exercise through neighbourhood walking enhances safety from crime.
The presence of those afflicted with mental health problems in a neighbourhood has long been known to contribute to conflict and suffering. Accordingly, there are many strategies that contribute to building the mental health of a neighbourhood, such as emotional intelligence training, self-awareness and meditation training, or dealing with risk factors from early childhood personal trauma.
Similarly, environmental factors can also provide a preventive shield, such as the greening of vacant lots to decrease gun assaults or enhancing overhead tree canopies to reduce street crime.
Investment in local infrastructure enhances economic sustainability and attention to social sustainability through grassroots community-based developments enhances the quality of life for local residents and can help reduce crime.
Our proposition is that high-performing neighbourhoods designed around each of these four sustainability principles offer a more long-term solution to prevent crime and improve the quality of life.
These four sustainability principles provide a powerful new integrated model for planning safer and resilient neighbourhoods in post-pandemic, 21st Century cities.
LANEWAYS - DREADFUL ENCLOSURES OR NEIGHBOURHOOD ASSETS? by Mateja MihinjacRead Now
by Mateja Mihinjac
Winter influences how we use our neighbourhood. Because of short daylight hours and cold weather, walking the neighbourhood is often an isolating experience. Current COVID lockdowns all across the world make these changes even more pronounced. All this affects the perception of safety of local residents, especially regarding residential laneways that may become risky movement predictors.
Residential laneways, also called alleys, back lanes or catwalks, are a welcome addition to the neighbourhood when they provide accessibility, shorten travel paths, and enhance walkability. They can serve as positive places for interaction.
Some blame these micro-places for increasing opportunities for crime. Research suggests that laneways can facilitate crime opportunities by contributing to increased levels of noise, property crime, antisocial behaviour and fear.
Yet others argue that laneway research shows improvements in social and environmental sustainability, which lead to better safety and perception of safety outcomes. Positive laneway design has a buffering effect on crime and vulnerable targets due to increased informal social controls stemming from higher levels of social cohesion.
Therefore, the question is not whether laneways have a place in the neighbourhood because they might trigger crime opportunities – laneways have many positive attributes that contribute to walkability and neighbourhood liveability. Rather the question should be how do we better design laneways and make them safe.
Many laneways are separated from neighbouring courtyards with high non-permeable fences that offer few opportunities for natural surveillance and interaction. Such laneways create tunnel-like gauntlets that are unattractive, especially at night.
In addition to this, many laneways, especially in North America, are positioned along backyard residential garage areas intended predominantly for vehicles and rubbish removal. No wonder these laneways become a “no man’s land” and thus lead to safety concerns described earlier.
One of our project teams from a recent Calgary SafeGrowth training identified that residents were concerned with hiding spots, poor visibility in the dark, graffiti on tall fencing, and similar. Clearly, laneway designers must create open and attractive areas that pay attention to pedestrian use.
IT’S MORE THAN CRIME
The second issue is that the laneway debate centres exclusively around crime prevention. Little attention is given to larger issues such as the type of the laneway and neighbourhood structure. Conversely, much of urban design literature speaks to the importance of integrating multiple liveability indicators and considering safety as an integral rather than isolated indicator of laneway suitability. As architecture professor Kim Dovey says, “I begin from the view that the urban public realm needs to be at once safe, accessible, vital, creative and democratic.”
Criminologist Paul Cozens believes that when the discussion centres around crime prevention alone, we make laneways hostile to human-scale design. In fact, he claims we can inadvertently “design in crime” while the residents become isolated from one another and from the outside neighbourhood.
When our Calgary team spoke to residents they found that the residents often referred to other quality of life concerns that affected their use of the laneways rather than safety concerns alone. Some of these included poor maintenance, tripping hazards, poor wayfinding, and integration of laneways with the street.
Again, this suggests we must consider laneways more holistically, not strictly with a crime prevention eye, and we must reconcile safety with other liveability indicators.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Despite the potential safety risks, there are many benefits of well-designed and well-functioning residential laneways. If designed well, they can further enhance community capacity-building and create a sense of neighbourhood.
There are some excellent toolkits describing how to accomplish these goals. They include a Turning Laneways into Public Places document and a Reimagine Catwalks Playbook.
As we say repeatedly in SafeGrowth, what matters most is collaborative design with residents – not designing to or for them. This is how we use laneways, not as dreadful shortcuts and fear-inducing places, but as shortcuts for building the neighbourhood.
ABOLISH CPTED? by Gregory SavilleRead Now
by Gregory Saville
As our COVID ravaged cities impose social isolation, working-from-home, and cabin fever, those who live in high-density apartments and housing developments must be confident they are safe from crime and violence. And, more than ever before, residents must feel their home is a sanctuary. Crime prevention through environmental design - CPTED - is an ideal answer for these difficult times, especially 2nd Generation CPTED and SafeGrowth.
Next Thursday, Dec 17, I and some colleagues are running a free educational webinar for property managers, realtors, and housing groups seeking residential safety. The “Virtual Property Management and Safety Summit” is sponsored by real estate safety expert, Tracey “the safety lady” Hawkins.
THE ANTI-CPTED MEME
All this stands in stark contrast to recent calls for the abolition of CPTED from municipal codes and city planning due to the perception that CPTED can exclude minorities from public life. Consider the Vancouver City Planning Commission website or articles by Bryan Lee Jr in Bloomberg City Lab website.
According to Lee:
“While CPTED principles are said to help discourage crime by orienting building windows and entrances to aid in providing “eyes on the street” that monitor activity, in practice this strategy can end up serving the same suppressive purpose as stop-and-frisk policing — to assure that anyone considered suspicious is made to feel uncomfortable.”
The solution, say these latter-day gurus who would protect us from the current Racial Reckoning, is to abolish CPTED, a crime prevention strategy that has brought safety and security to millions of citizens all over the world – as you will discover by reading some of the hundreds of scientific publications regarding CPTED.
ABOLITION OR ACCREDITATION?
In my view, CPTED is not the problem. For example, while aspirin has been an effective pain remedy for over a thousand years, improper use can result in overdose and stomach problems. The solution is not to abolish aspirin. Same with CPTED. It is vulnerable to improper use by poorly trained practitioners. No doubt some practitioners indiscriminately lock and fence properties without regard to alternative options. CPTED can produce racial exclusion if placed into the wrong, untrained hands. But the solution isn’t abolition. It’s proper training and certification through legitimate accredited courses – the very thing the ICA has offered for years.
In his 1972 landmark book “Defensible Space”, architect Oscar Newman wrote
"The question to be asked is how does one initially achieve thoughtful building groupings rather than having to resort to barbed-wire fences and locks after the fact?"
One answer appeared on the International CPTED Association’s “Special ICA Webinar: Exclusion versus Inclusion – In CPTED Everyone Has a role”.
On Thursday, Dec. 17, we will provide another during our Safety Summit.
by Gregory Saville
Many years ago I spoke to Paolo Soleri, the visionary (and apparently flawed) architect who created arcology, the marrying of architecture and ecology into a new type of city.
I met him at Arcosanti, his experimental city lab in the Arizona desert, and asked him where, among his artistic walls, curved roof apses, and dense architecture, did he plan to include greenery, parks and nature trails? He replied that arcologies attempt to build high density in every direction, including vertically, but do so by leaving nature alone as much as possible. However, Soleri assured me, access to nature will be easier in an arcology because no arcology dweller will ever be more than a kilometer from nature, untouched and pure – parks, streams, and forests.
That was an inspiring vision, one that seems far away today. I’m unsure how realistic, or desirable, it is to remove nature from within cities, especially given the many environmental and psychological reasons for walkable green space as Stephen Mouzon reports in his book The Original Green.
As we describe in Third Generation CPTED, nature, parks, trails and greenways have a deep psychological role in creating safe places and they will remain an important asset within large cities – whether it's New York’s Central Park or the massive Stanley Park in Vancouver. This is especially true in a time of COVID when everyone wants to get out from cabin fever.
What about crime along those trails? Park pathways, greenways and nature trails are known in the CPTED business as “movement predictors”, sometimes called architectural desire lines. It is possible to design movement predictors safely or otherwise (unintentionally), depending on where and how designers construct them.
A few years ago, we were asked to help design a Rails to Trails bikeway from a California train station through some very high crime neighborhoods. The project never happened, but it became clear to me that the single most important method for designing safe movement predictors is insuring users of those spaces are part of the design process. That's why it is such a central feature of all SafeGrowth programming.
Collaborative design far surpasses the landscape architect’s penchant to look for published design guidelines, design the trail, show residents the results afterward, and hope for the best.
Our COVID world is creating a powerful impetus for city dwellers all over the world to take to the trails and experience nature. That is a good thing. Let’s ensure those trails are shared and safe.
by Gregory Saville
Responding to our global COVID-19 pandemic, New York sociologist Eric Klinenberg recently wrote that social distancing will lead to, not only an economic recession but also to a future changed in unexpected ways.
Perhaps! But only gravestone epitaphs are written in stone and I choose to write my own future, which brings me to New York.
New York is the city where Jane Jacobs wrote about the power of social networks in her famous book Death and Life of Great American Cities, a book that launched the CPTED movement. She wrote that we keep the peace on our streets through an “intricate almost unconscious network of voluntary controls and standards among the people themselves.” In other words – us!
Strange advice coming from New York, the city with apartment towers far above urban parks, strangers yelling and car horns blaring! The endless rush hour! And today New York is the epicenter of the American COVID-19 pandemic, a city where thousands have already died in a country that leads the world’s infection rate.
Yet, despite it all, this YouTube showed up from New York City:
And it’s not only New York! This spontaneous flash of solidarity with health care workers has become a social epidemic of goodwill all over the world. It’s now in Italy, Germany, India, Israel, and in cities all across the Americas, from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Vancouver, Canada. Applauding with abandon – usually, around shift change at hospitals – New Yorkers join millions of others around the globe to cheer healthcare workers with pots, pans, whistles, hands, and anything else they can find.
This reaffirms the reality of Jacobs’ intricate, unconscious social network. Despite food hoarding, panic purchases, and obnoxious herd behavior, people eventually figure out that they depend on the social connections of everyday life to survive.
PUBLIC HOUSING AND CRIME
Never was this yearning for connection more evident than during our SafeGrowth work in New York City over the past two years. Members of our SafeGrowth team worked with the New York Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to teach CPTED to residents, including how to set up plans to improve life in their apartment towers. No small feat considering this public housing had some of the highest crime rates in the city.
Impressively, people pulled together in this biggest of cities, in places with so-called intractable crime rates, and they began to cut crime and improve safety. They created plans and they implemented many of their ideas because they knew they depend on social connections to survive everyday life. It was like Jane’s spirit hovered over the city that she once called home, a place where the velocity of daily living speeds past the average person at breakneck speed, as she whispered the ghostly incantation: “Pay attention to each other! Care for each other!”
As we face the new COVID-19 reality, the lesson is clear: We can create inclusive neighborhoods from far and wide, suburban and rural, rich and poor. We know how to build pro-social urban designs and places of connection and resilience. Perhaps Klinenberg was right; COVID-19 will change our future in unexpected ways. Still, more importantly, it is us who will shape what that future looks like!
For years, SafeGrowth Advocates (and many others) have fought against the retreat from public life, the withdrawal from the discomfort of strangers, and the overwhelming fear of violence by too many of our fellow citizens. In her blog last week, Mateja reminds us that we must battle both the physical and the social virus. Similarly, a few weeks ago, Tarah blogged that there is a big difference between social isolation and social distancing.
If we cling to social distancing and isolation in our public life after COVID-19, we will leave very little humane life to retain our humanity. The social is, after all, what makes society. Even the Council on Foreign Relations knows this truth – the future of global health is urban health.
William Fulton, planner and former Ventura city mayor, recently blogged that the post-pandemic city will lead to “an increase in remote work arrangements which will lead to more activity in neighborhoods, more flexibility in public transit options and a renewed appreciation for taking a walk.”
If that is the future we want then we need practical methods to deliver services where people can stay safe and healthy in their neighborhood. We need places where residents know each other and where they feel comfortable walking, day or night, and where they do not have to drive for food, medical care, and recreation.
THE UNCONSCIOUS NETWORK
Millions of strangers all over the world do not spontaneously bang pans and cheer outside their windows because they want isolation from their neighbors. They do it because they yearn to express their emotions in a safe public place in a way they can see and hear their neighbors doing the same. Even with a raging pandemic, they share a common realization that we all – healthcare workers, doctors, food delivery people, everyday neighbors, and police – need each other.
It’s the unconscious network in action.
How will cities evolve following the pandemic? Some claim cities will isolate, gate up, and separate. They say technology will prevail to protect us! But, in truth, we shall not find salvation in seldom-monitored CCTV systems or in the socially-hollow gated community. As King Lear says, that way madness lies!
NEXT BLOG: What can we do to create different, healthy, and safer places? There is another way!
by Mateja Mihinjac
Local shops and offices that occupy storefronts of downtown and suburban streets inject life into those places. Without them, these areas would not attract local residents or visitors and that would leave downtown areas barren and vulnerable to crime. Vacant storefronts communicate messages to passers-by such as an economic downturn, unsafe conditions, or a lack of care. These were some of the responses shared by the participants in a field study I conducted last year.
THE EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM
While an increase in storefront vacancies appears almost universal across western countries, the extent of the problem varies between countries, cities and even within the neighborhoods:
Some cities, such as Melbourne, have experienced reductions in their downtown vacant rates but have observed more issues with suburban areas. A scan across 11 suburban retail strips uncovered a vacancy rate of 8.4% with the highest at nearly 17%.
Given a commonly cited 5% “acceptable” vacancy rate, it is not surprising that vacant shopping corridors are a growing worry of commercial experts, CPTED practitioners, and criminologists who study such matters.
REASONS BEHIND VACANCIES
Vacancies are not uniformly distributed across cities and suburbs for a number of reasons. Some include:
Other possible reasons for vacancies include rezoning, gentrification and shifting consumer preferences. Ultimately, vacant storefronts not only influence the economy, but they influence safety and social life. In short, when vacancies arise, conditions also arise for street crime and worsening fear.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
In our Third Generation CPTED article last year, we pinpoint the importance of social, economic, and environmental sustainability as protective factors against neighbourhood decline. Active local shops and robust local economies are paramount for a decent quality of life. This is a core principle of our vision of liveable 21st Century cities.
The next blog will explore how vacant storefronts impact crime and possible solutions for addressing them.
by Gregory Saville
How do you know if someone knows what they are talking about or whether they are just making stuff up? If an unqualified plumber hooks up your toilet improperly, you’ll know real quick they are not qualified. Ewww. Please…no more leaky toilets!
What about a practitioner in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design? CPTED has been around for 48 years and there have been many strategies practiced around the world. Do CPTED practitioners know that history and what strategies work best? In the past 23 years hundreds of case studies and presentations have been delivered at the International CPTED Association (ICA) conferences. Do practitioners know that work?
A few years ago, I gave evidence as a CPTED expert in court cases involving homicide and gang shootings. The lawyers asked me to carefully present my credentials. To help courts in the future, I later published “The evolution of spatial forensics into forensic architecture: Applying CPTED and criminal target selection” which outlined some legal criteria for CPTED evidence in court.
But what about CPTED consulting? How do you know if someone has basic CPTED competencies? What about “certification”?
What is certification? In some places, it is called professional designation or trade certification. You can be certified in anything from Pilates to architecture – though the differences are vast.
Certification means a practitioner has a level of knowledge and expertise in a particular field. It cannot be offered by an individual consultant or a private company (even if that company calls itself a “certifying organization”), since that is hardly a credible or unbiased source. Instead, it means that a person has obtained some formal, third-party acknowledgement of competency. For many years, that was a problem in CPTED. There were no third-party organizations to certify anyone, not until the growth of the International CPTED Association.
As Josh Brown, the former Chair of the ICA certification committee described years ago:
“Certification also serves to lock out charlatans claiming to be trained or certified by merely attending a course or taking a test.Unfortunately, crime prevention practitioners just learning about CPTED may feel the bar raised a bit too far. Certification in the field of one's choosing is a way of indicating to yourself that you have arrived”
Some confuse certification with a professional “license” – such as a license to practice medicine. Governments are responsible for licenses whereas, as Wikipedia states, “certifications are usually awarded by professional societies or educational institutes.”
This month the International CPTED Association launched its latest program, the CPTED Course Accreditation Program (CAP).
It is a program designed to allow CPTED curricula writers and trainers to submit their programs to ensure they teach and evaluate 11 core CPTED competencies within their course. This program follows the original CPTED Certified Practitioner (ICCP) program for individual practitioners 15 years ago.
The reason the International CPTED Association chose to launch certification programs is that, unlike engineering or urban planning, CPTED is not a formally recognized profession. While it does have scientific evidence that supports its foundations, much of that evidence emerges from academic criminology and it is not yet quite scientific, despite claims to the contrary. That is why an independent group of third-party, experienced experts in practical CPTED represented the ideal place to start the process of professionalization.
FIRST OF A KIND
The ICA represents the first, and only, international association of practitioners, professionals, and academics dedicated to the advancement of CPTED around the world. Fifteen years ago a few dozen leading CPTED experts spent a few years crafting the parameters of what certification in CPTED actually means. That was the first major step forward.
The launch of CAP in the past month is the next big step. It’s not yet a “license” to practice since only a government can legislate professional licenses through law. But since CPTED is not yet a full profession, that isn’t realistic anyway at this point.
Today, anyone can claim CPTED expertise after a few days of training. The ICA certification programs now lay some firm groundwork for minimal standards that the public should expect when they ask for CPTED advice. It’s a giant leap forward. No more leaky toilets, please!
by Tarah Hodgkinson
5:15am – SLAM! CRASH! BANG! That is how I wake up every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning. Three days a week, when the garbage and recycling truck comes to empty the bins below my second-floor window. It’s been three times a week for 5 months now. They start at the ungodly hour of 5:15am. Always waking me up.
The first time I heard it I nearly jumped through the wall. When I first moved into one of the units of the six-story apartment, I was told that the truck came twice a week.
I know I sound like I’m complaining. You might suggest I go back to sleep after they are done (not possible), or that I close my window (I do) or I turn on the AC and blast a fan and wear earplugs (check, check, check). You might say “calm down, you chose to live in the city” (try using public transit outside of a city).
But noise pollution (excessive noise caused by machines, transport and other humans) has a harmful impact on humans and animals. Numerous studies have examined the effect of increased noise levels on health. Noise pollution has been found to affect the nervous and endocrine systems and can cause numerous health issues from anxiety and heart disease.
Most importantly, it disrupts sleep, which can be a catalyst for all of these health issues, as well as low birth weights for pregnant women. Additionally, sleep disruption caused by noise pollution can also reduce focus and harm productivity.
NOISE AND CPTED
As Mateja and Greg described in their recent blog introducing 3rd Generation CPTED, there is more to neighborhood livability than fear and crime. Noise pollution and its impact on public health is part of 3rd Generation CPTED because of its critical role in creating successful, peaceful neighborhoods.
While crime and noise have very different consequences, both fear of crime and noise pollution impact neighborhood livability. If people do not feel comfortable in public areas due to noise, they will not spend time there. It’s difficult to get legitimate “eyes on the street” (1st Generation CPTED calls it natural surveillance) when residents are hostile towards their streets.
Fortunately, communities all over the world are starting to pay attention to noise pollution. New technologies are helping to better discern the impacts of noise pollution, and laws and regulations already in place are beginning to expand. In fact, organizations like Noise Free, have made it their mission to reduce noise pollution as part of a larger public health mandate.
However, many suggestions for responding to noise pollution are individually focused on encouraging the consumer to buy expensive noise-cancelling headphones, rearranging their furniture in their house or purchase other muffling agents.
Even more extreme, some suggest that people just move. But moving to a quieter neighborhood is not an option for most people, in particular, because noise pollution tends to be worse in poorer neighborhoods.
Not surprisingly, those poor neighborhoods are often where crime and fear flourish and where we end up working to introduce SafeGrowth.
There have to be better local solutions to reduce these risks and protect those most affected. Planners and developers already use highway barriers to reduce loud traffic, but this is not enough. For example, one solution might be educating policymakers on how to create local noise mitigation legislation, especially the sleep-interrupting version. It might be possible to better notify (and enforce) noise violators, improve tree coverage that can block noise, or create “no horn zones”.
Creating safe and livable neighborhoods isn’t just about reducing crime, its also about ensuring that city designers and decision-makers, and residents themselves, treat all neighborhoods fairly and ensure all forms of health and well-being are part of the 21st Century neighborhood.
By Mateja Mihinjac
I had a fairly happy childhood. The suburban village my parents adopted as a family home offered the necessary amenities - two small grocery stores, a bakery, fresh produce store, kindergarten, primary school and a small library. And they were all within a ten-minute walk. We also had a home garden, we could play on the street and I was surrounded by the green fields and nearby hills that became my beloved recreational spots.
Most importantly, this was a safe neighbourhood.
However, as I grew older, my needs and wants also increased. Village life no longer satisfied my yearning for exploration, learning, working and socialising, and the surroundings and facilities felt outdated and bland. It was as if time in the village had stopped.
THEORY OF HUMAN MOTIVATION
I later realized it was me who had outgrown the village. It continues to satisfy basic needs, but it hasn’t evolved. It has failed to adapt to the reality that, more than ever, humans strive for more than simply surviving and addressing our biological needs. We have higher-level psychological needs such as feelings of belonging, self-esteem and social connection. We have needs for personal growth and self-fulfilment. Abraham Maslow outlined this in the Theory of Human Motivation nearly 80 years ago.
Moreover, we crave a meaningful existence by being able to contribute to the experience of others. Maslow explained this highest level satisfaction in his later work using the term self-transcendence.
It should therefore not sound unusual or extraordinary for people to expect that their neighbourhood should offer a high quality of life by providing opportunities for realising those high-level needs.
THIRD GENERATION CPTED
This is the message that Greg Saville and I convey in our recently published article Third Generation CPTED.
The main premise of our new theory is that for the highest quality of life, a 21st Century neighbourhood should offer more than minimum services and necessities. Good transport, proper sanitation, a healthy environment, ample food, adequate shelter, and local safety are critical, but not enough. Recreation opportunities and social activities too are necessary, but they still don't reach the highest level of motivational satisfaction. So residents drive away and abandon their neighbourhood to find something they cannot locate nearby.
Applying the Neighbourhood Liveability Hierarchy we propose that residents should be able to strive for more advanced opportunities to satisfy their highest needs, while all the basic and modest provisions exist in every place. Such an advanced neighbourhood planned in a holistic and strategic way will help it evolve to support the needs of its inhabitants.
In SafeGrowth we offer the hub concept as an epicentre for such developments under the ownership of neighbourhood residents.
The main premise of the concept is participatory democracy and decision-making potential of the residents who would continually assess and address neighbourhood needs thus help it maintain a high quality of life.
Our SafeGrowth advocate and friend Carlos Gutierrez has recently also offered a view of networked community-driven hubs in the violence-stricken nation of Honduras. His story is remarkable because it showcases how community-driven neighbourhood hubs drive local progress and offer opportunities for high-level needs, which concurrently aim to address violence and promote safety.
NEIGHBOURHOODS OF THE FUTURE
As our basic needs are met, we must create places that allow us opportunities to grow towards higher-level needs and uncover innovative and exciting ways to satisfy them. If we can’t find those opportunities in our living environment, we will look elsewhere and alienate ourselves from our neighbourhood and its inhabitants in the process.
Unfortunately, so many amenities are concentrated in large downtown centres, or in huge, disconnected retail box stores surrounded by acres of parking, that they restrict the opportunities for satisfying high-level needs in suburban areas like the village of my youth. The suburbs become places that excel in basic services and residential use, but where opportunities for self-actualization and transcendence are rare.
Our neighbourhoods must respond to the needs of 21st Century lifestyles and they need opportunities for their inhabitants to flourish in local life and participate in meaningful neighbourhood decision-making. Perhaps then, as neighbourhood attachment grows, residents will enjoy their neighbourhood not only because it’s their living environment but also because it helps them fulfil their potential.
VIOLENCE ON THE STREETS OF SANTIAGO - TOWARDS SOCIAL PEACE DURING CRISISRead Now
GUEST BLOG: Macarena Rau Vargas
Macarena is an architect from Chile and the President of the International CPTED Association. She has a Ph.D. in architecture and urbanism and has led urban safety projects all across Latin America and the Carribean. She currently heads PBL Consulting, is an associate consultant with AlterNation LLC, and has led the evolution of 2nd Generation CPTED throughout South America. As a citizen of Chile, Macarena and her fellow citizens have suffered weeks of violent protests on the streets of Santiago. In this guest blog, she has a message for policymakers and citizens alike - a message that resonates in other countries around the world.
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Rioters are burning factories, 11 people are dead, and over 10,000 police and troops are on the streets attempting to quell violent protests. These are times of social unrest in many countries and Chile is not immune. This very phenomenon was described in the first chapter of the SafeGrowth book: “We now see a resurgence of grassroots social movements calling for change… Do these increasing incidents of social unrest prophesize an impending future shock?”
In Santiago, it all started on October 18 when, as the result of a 4% Metro transit ticket hike, there was a spontaneous explosion of social discontent on the streets of Chile’s capital city. Even though wages in Chile have been slightly increasing and poverty falling, the rates of inequality remain high.
At this very moment, it is important to reflect and ask what will lead us to a sustainable social peace both during crisis scenarios like this and in everyday life in Chile and throughout Latin America? Is there a methodology that allows us to realize that social peace?
THREE POINTS FOR CHANGE
The first point to establish is that public security is not improvised; rather it is the methodical result of concerted public, private and citizen efforts. And those efforts must be sustained to be able to deal with crises like those we suffer today in Chile, and in other Latin American countries. Creating stable and sustainable public policies is not a simple matter – they must integrate and articulate many parts of community justice and safety: control, prevention, reintegration, and victim care actions.
The second point is that before the public explodes in a burst of social discontent, a government must have the tools and capacity to diagnose socio-environmental pathologies that destroy the quality of public life. It must know how to diagnose, with the help of citizens, the possible threats to public life, whether those threats are internal or external. Governments are not always complicit in the creation of social inequity – it often happens because they are unaware of the full implications of even the simplest social policy – like a fare hike in a transit ticket! Again, this brings us to the need for a methodology to guide us forward.
We know from 20 years of work with both 1st and 2nd Generation Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) that we now have such a methodology. In Latin America, we call this the CPTED® methodology and it offers a social diagnosis that is co-produced with local communities. A CPTED® methodology diagnosis is not similar to the surveys, polling, or social research that governments too frequently rely on for information (and as we see in Santiago, often with disastrous results). The CPTED® methodology allows the diagnosis to be rich, relevant and up-to-date; it captures the pulse of community members and their real needs.
Our experience has taught us the more hyper-focused the diagnostics, the better the solutions. For example, we know from international evidence that the proportion of those who trigger violence during peaceful protests (resulting in riots) are a minority – often an organized and concerted minority – compared to the mass of citizens they claim to represent. No doubt social unrest and frustration exist. But few public citizens want to harm people, to burn stores, or destroy property. Few want people killed.
What citizens actually want is a solution to inequity, poverty, and a decent quality of life.
The third point is that public security policies must be in concert with various members of the community, both institutionally and socially; that is why citizen dialogue is fundamental. Dialogue must involve the citizenry, the armed forces, government, universities, civil society organizations, the church, and many others.
THE BACKBONE OF PEACE
Citizenship is the backbone that links both the SafeGrowth planning method recently introduced in North America and the broad style of CPTED® that we have developed in Latin America. Both methods employ citizenship at our core because we recognize its importance in developing public policy. Citizenship and the involvement of the public empowers citizens! That is how we end up with sustainable policies and avoid crucial public policy mistakes.
Likewise, in crisis scenarios as we see today, we must avoid polarizing talk that fractures people apart from a common ground. As the city of Bogotá demonstrated in the 1980s with its "Garrote and Carrot" policies, the balance between hard enforcement control was combined with the comprehensive social actions of the citizenry. This eventually cut the homicide rate in half.
Achieving sustainable social peace for Chile is possible, but it requires methodical changes based on evidence in public policies. This crisis is a call to turn the national helm in another direction. We expect both the government and the citizens of this country to walk in that direction.
by Mateja Mihinjac
This summer, I led a team of eight city planners and set out to explore how the physical and social environment in downtown Saskatoon, Canada influences perceptions of personal safety. This was the first-ever micro-level, fear and safety project to use a specially tailored, digitized software app to map and analyse downtown safety in Canada. This is something geographers of crime and environmental psychologists have been studying for decades, but often without the precise measurements that we were about to uncover.
MEASURING PERCEPTIONS OF SAFETY
Perceptions of safety have been understudied in the field of criminology despite knowing that they may affect people’s use of the public realm more than actual crime. Moreover, from Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design - CPTED - we know that features on the streets, parks, and neighborhoods where we live may promote or reduce fear in that environment. Yet, we rarely measure this association.
As a criminologist specializing in SafeGrowth and CPTED, the City of Saskatoon planning department hired me for the summer of 2019 to develop and pilot this downtown project.
The first step included the development of the field data collection survey, a modified version of the Neighbourhood Safety Audit that incorporates the principles of CPTED. The survey was then digitized in a GPS location-based data collection app called Fulcrum, that allowed us to capture and record data with our mobile devices for use in subsequent analysis.
We formed two research teams of four participants from the Saskatoon Planning & Development Division. Each participant had undergone CPTED/SafeGrowth training and was knowledgeable about urban design and safety. Teams collected night and daytime data within the downtown area over 13 days.
Because we were interested in perceptions and fear at a very micro-level, the study area was confined to the blocks and laneways within a four block area. We used our new app to collect information from 108 micro-spatial locations within a radius of 30 meters (100 feet) of each location, and then we also collected 596 additional intercept surveys with members of the public on the street at the time.
Detailed fieldwork like this is laborious and time consuming, but teams were diligent and we were able to gain invaluable insights, in some cases uncovering findings about fear that were previously unknown.
What did we learn?
In our SafeGrowth training we often say: Once you learn CPTED you’ll never again look at the environment the same way. However, CPTED novices often forget that the environment encompasses both physical and social. This research provides evidence about the interplay between the physical and social environments on public perceptions. Clearly, physical and social CPTED strategies are equally important and must be part of all planning and prevention.
by Gregory Saville
Like so many countries today facing political questioning and turbulent change, Hungary is in rapid transformation. In that context, it’s fascinating to watch the launch of a new movement in a place with progressive-minded people seeking a positive future. Moments like that teem with excitement and hope. Such was the case in Budapest, the enchanting capital city on the Danube River where I attended a conference two weeks ago launching CPTED in that country.
Sporting the tagline, “The Role of Conscious Architectural and Environmental Design in Crime Prevention”, the conference was one in a series of similar events this year aimed at introducing CPTED to different sectors of the Hungarian community.
Organized by the dedicated folks at the “kulturAktiv”, an NGO dedicated to helping young people understand the built environment, (with the Hungarian National Crime Prevention Council and the Lechner Knowledge Centre), the conference was meticulously organized with an international group of speakers and local experts.
I have attended such events many times over the years but rarely have I seen such thorough preparation. The Hungarians have read, studied, and attended CPTED events, such as the International CPTED Association conference in Calgary a few years ago. They came prepared and they knew their stuff! Their workshops showed the depth of knowledge about CPTED, 2nd Generation CPTED, the role of children, and CPTED in high rise housing.
I was immensely impressed with the presentations, from Istvan Molnar’s session on whether CPTED should be compulsory or recommended (I favor the former) to Anna Szilagi-Nagy’s presentation, A matter of opinion – whose task is CPTED? (I vote for everyone).
They have done their homework! I wish we had that kind of foresight and commitment in North America, where too much CPTED is mired in the “design out crime” of the 1970s - locks, lights, territorial control and 1st Generation CPTED!
Thank you to our new Hungarian friends for your commitment to your community. That commitment, above all, is the mark of exceptional people. As the protagonist in a famous film once said; “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
by Gregory Saville
It’s difficult to get worked up about crime in a place like Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. Surrounded by lush beaches, palm trees and bathed in tropical sun, most visitors to the Island are unaware of the recent surge in gun crime or fears about drugs. To be clear, Barbados does have among the lowest crime rates of all the nearby Caribbean Islands, isolated somewhat from the political unrest in nearby Venezuela and blessed with competent police services.
Instead, what you notice in the city is the energy and bustle during daytime and the quaint Victorian and Georgian architecture, high ventilated gables and wide verandas along the narrow, serpentine streets. But if you look closely there is something missing: litter and graffiti.
Bridgetown and the surrounding areas seem remarkably free of litter, garbage and graffiti. True, there are some spots, here and there. And graffiti pops up now and then. But overall, the streets (and the beaches, for that matter), are remarkably clean.
This is in stark contrast to other tourist destinations where garbage is a common fact of life. New Orleans, for example, following the Mardi Gras festival, is a mess. Even after clean-up, the city has litter everywhere. And as we know from CPTED 1 theory, the image of a place has an impact on perceptions of safety and security.
It wasn’t always this way in Bridgetown. Graffiti was rampant and litter and illegal dumping were of major concern. Newspaper editorials carped about the problem and tourism experts warned about its impact.
Anti-litter and clean-up campaigns and community-led groups like the Barbados Guardians have effectively cut litter significantly. Anti-graffiti programs in schools have brought a new public discourse to the issue.
There is no doubt many larger environmental problems remain unresolved like over-filled land waste sites, ocean plastic dumps, and others. But, at least with street litter and graffiti, Bridgetown shows it is possible to marshal public opinion and local commitment, with the help of government, and change the lives of everyday people for the better.
That is, of course, the basic message of SafeGrowth. Bridgetown shows how that is possible with graffiti and litter control.
by Tarah Hodgkinson
On a recent walk in Burnaby, British Columbia, what was normally an uninteresting and car-dominated street, offered a surprise. As I turned a corner, I was delighted to see a major change since my last visit. The city had built a vertical park! A beautiful walking space including bike lanes, areas to sit, green spaces and artistic architecture.
What was most interesting was the way in which they city had treated the neighboring houses. Along this vertical park, the city had installed decorative visibility fences. Essentially these fences are neither wooden fences with no visibility nor chain-link fences with visibility but a hideous look.
These fences are particularly interesting because they address an important issue for corner homes and homes on edges of land-use changes, in this case, residential to commercial. Homes in these locations are often at increased risk of burglary and vandalism.
Tall wooden fences can simply block the external view of an intruder once they are over the fence, making it easier for these individuals to commit a crime. Additionally, residents cannot see if a threat exists on the other side of the fence. Chain link fencing, however, often gives the impression of “fortress” mentality and can increase feelings of fear, making the neighborhood appear hardened. Chain link fences are also quite easy to climb.
These decorative visibility fences provided visibility to both residents and surrounding eyes. At the same time, they create a beautiful linear space for folks to walk through. They are also difficult to climb.
This vertical park and the accompanying decorative visibility fences are a great example of finding beautiful ways to address privacy and safety in neighborhoods on the edges of commercial use.
CPTED ON A PENDULUMRead Now
By Mateja Mihinjac
Embedded within SafeGrowth practice resides a number of tactics, one of which is CPTED - crime prevention through environmental design. CPTED is often criticized for being simplistic and reductionist in its solutions and for promoting fortressing while displacing undesirable activity.
In January, Greg reprinted an article he wrote a few years ago about the exclusionary nature of CPTED when it disregards some at the expense of others.
These side effects may seem unsurprising considering that the word “prevention” implies attention to undesirable behaviors. However, years of experience teach us that not every crime problem will benefit from simply restricting behaviors; we also need to provide alternatives and support desirable conduct.
This does not infer a binary approach to CPTED but rather attention to details because, when it comes to intended and desirable outcomes, context matters! It is therefore prudent to outline some of the 1st Generation CPTED principles using a pendulum between restrictive and desirable behavioral outcomes.
THE CONTEXT PENDULUM
A broader view of CPTED is nothing new; it can be observed in the early writing of CPTED by the original authors. For example, we know from Oscar Newman’s work on defensible space that territorial influence is most powerful when it combines “latent territoriality and sense of community” when residents care for shared spaces and each other.
Tactics to uncover latent territoriality include designing visual contact between residential areas and building semi-private areas where neighbors can congregate, factors that still emerge today in research.
Methods to enhance the social climate of an area include getting people to better know, and care for, each other with cultural and recreational activities.
Newman predicted this latent territoriality promotes ownership through supporting pro-social behaviors while concurrently deflecting unwanted use without the need for physical reinforcement.
Similarly, Jane Jacobs extended her discussion of “eyes upon the street” and argued that streets are safe when they provide opportunities for desirable activities by offering people a reason to occupy them, as we described in recent blogs on sidewalks and alternatives to bollards.
There is no shortage of other methods to create desirable locations, for example through tactical urbanism and placemaking that build pro-social activities and informal supervision.
Mainstream 1st Generation CPTED continues to undermine the need for investing in social capital as the underlying prerequisite for effective and sustainable crime prevention.
In SafeGrowth, we employ 2nd Generation CPTED to promote social cohesion, local pride and social interaction. The goal is to swing the pendulum towards pro-social conduct and away from an anti-social, target-hardening mantra. Ultimately, the key for quality of life in neighborhoods is finding the right balance between the two.
THE VILLAGERead Now
Fog's rollin' in off the East River bank
Like a shroud it covers Bleecker Street
Fills the alleys where men sleep
Hides the shepherd from the sheep
- Paul Simon, Bleecker Street
by Greg Saville
Walking through Greenwich Village in New York City, as I did last week, is like walking through American history. It reminded me of Simon and Garfunkle's 1960s song Bleecker Street, a nostalgic ode partly about a neighborhood New Yorkers call ‘The Village'.
Greenwich Village is the place of America’s first integrated nightclub with Billy Holiday and where Edgar Allan Poe wrote poetry. It’s the neighborhood where Albert Einstein, Arthur Conan Doyle and Charlie Chaplin sat for sculptor Jo Davidson, and where Jack Kerouac and Allan Ginsberg started the Beat Movement. Bob Dylan started here. Jewish intellectuals fled Nazi Germany to the Greenwich Village campus of the New School for Social Research.
Breathing life into the neighborhood is Washington Square Park, the nexus of public life in The Village. Fifty-seven years ago another Greenwich Village luminary, Jane Jacobs, published her landmark text, The Death and Life of Great American Cities in which she wrote about the attempted destruction of Washington Square Park.
SLICING WITH AN EXPRESSWAY
In 1961 Washington Square Park was to be cut in half by an expressway and a pedestrian overpass, diced into slices by Robert Moses, former NYC Parks Commissioner. Moses was a leader in the modernist movement of city planning and, more than others, he led an urban renewal revolution to build expressways and expand growth into suburbs.
On one hand, Moses built hundreds of city parks and public swimming pools, but on the other he divided neighborhoods with an orgy of expressway building. In the late 1950s, Washington Square Park, the lifeblood of Greenwich Village, was next in line; that is until Jacobs and her fellow Greenwich neighbors mobilized public support against the plan.
It’s difficult to imagine the decimation of Greenwich Village, the heritage it entailed, and the history it enshrined if Moses had been able to plow a wide expressway through the beating heart of that park. In many ways, Jacobs and others launched a crusade against Moses and modernist planning theory. Fortunately for us, she succeeded.
A half-century after those battles, a stroll through this iconic Greenwich Village park offers tangible proof how, at least in this case, local efforts and bottom-up thinking blew away the master planning fog of some top-down schemers.
By Mateja Mihinjac
Last week I outlined why the problem of vehicular attacks on pedestrians demands thinking beyond target hardening. These incidents cannot be simply eradicated through design, but some of the alternatives below offer possibilities for reducing negative social impacts that accompany hyper-security.
One way to avoid perpetuating fear and altering aesthetics of public spaces is to transform overt, obtrusive security to less visible (or invisible) security. Instead of fortressing our cities and increasing mass surveillance, target hardening practices can be integrated into the environment (e.g. street furniture, layout, paving styles, use of special materials).
Multiple cases of concrete bollards painted by local artists and activists show that citizens care about the appearance of their public spaces and the message they convey to their users. Other less obtrusive strategies include natural barriers such as rain gardens, ponds, bridges and Ha-Ha walls.
Successful experiments have also demonstrated how altering pedestrian movement through playful and non-obtrusive designs such as floor markings and mirrors prompts people to use a designated safe route and foster their connection to both place and their users.
Congruent with the smart city movement, new invisible technical solutions are also possible. Sweden is now testing geo-fencing on a large scale before the country may be the first to implement this approach in a fight against heavy vehicles attacks. In the U.S., architects are designing safer schools.
Another popular option includes altering zoning practices in city centers such as special downtown zones that limit vehicle use to light-weight and slow-speed vehicles or pedestrian-only areas. Such zones have a life of their own. They provide opportunities for people to explore and enjoy them. Concurrently they help reclaim public space through reprogramming a restricted area into a positive land use. They also demand improved pedestrian infrastructure and street networks that support easy and safe movement.
The ideas about walkable and human scale design have culminated in practices such as the Barnes dance intersections. The World Resources Institute also provides a detailed overview of measures that prioritize a safe and human scale transport design.
Security professionals, designers and planners can balance security and socially-appropriate measures by providing safety and support connections as well as interactions between people. Obtrusive security measures divide and create barriers between people. There are better alternatives.
By Mateja Mihinjac
Over the past few years, several western cities have seen an increase in attacks on pedestrians by vehicle ramming into masses of people. For example, New York's vehicle ramming last October that killed 8 people or the 2014 terror attack south of Montreal in which two Canadian soldiers were run down in a parking lot.
In a bid to protect these soft targets, jurisdictions around the world have been installing concrete bollards and other hardened access control mechanisms. These measures intend to slow down or stop a vehicle or absorb an impact in the event of a crash. Some include:
Although these design features are not new, they are instant reactionary solutions to vehicular attacks. As The National puts it: “the use of concrete blocks shows that cities have failed to incorporate effective anti-terrorist features, and are more for public reassurance”. Hyper-security measures neglect appropriateness and social acceptance.
TARGET HARDENED PUBLIC SPACES
It might be too early to tell whether such measures prevent further attacks, but relying on obtrusive and defensive practices alone has already raised doubts about their appropriateness. Those doubts arise from feelings of false reassurance, unsightly bollards, and ugly aesthetics. Further, there are risks of displacement to more vulnerable targets and inadequate experience by designers and security officials while implementing high security, target hardening in public places.
In today’s high-risk society it is clear that something must be done to secure public safety. At the same time, target hardened solutions obsess on security at the expense of the democratic use of public spaces, what one author calls the paradox of democracy and hypersecurity.
Do these practices foster a culture of fear and alienation instead of a sense of security and kinship? We need to consider the impact of target hardened community spaces in the public realm, including freedom of movement and positive social interactions. The question is, What is the right balance?
Next week’s blog will provide some alternative practices for a better balance between security and socially-appropriate measures.
by Gregory Saville
Reflecting on Tarah's excellent blog last week on the need for access control in public housing, I came across an article I wrote a few years ago that adds another dimension to the access control story. I thought I’d share…
CPTED is inclusive, but only if it is used to help residents socialize and take ownership of their common spaces. If not, the results are like the sugar-sweet candy bar; it tastes yummy and satisfies children, but if overused it leads to heart disease and, when the sugar kicks in, the kids go nuts.
How does it work? CPTED reduces crime by dividing the public realm into semi-public and semi-private spaces. For example, architects design a landscaped courtyard in front of an apartment building entranceway so residents feel that space belongs to them. But CPTED can also exclude some groups.
Developers use access control to build exclusive gated communities to keep outsiders away from wealthy, enclosed residential areas. Or the tactic called target hardening might use reinforced bullet-proof windows in bank teller areas to deter robbers. But that can also create a psychological barrier between legitimate customers and make it difficult for tellers to provide a more personal service and get to know their customers.
INSIDE OR OUTSIDE?
Sometimes CPTED can have both inclusionary and exclusionary impact. For example, back in the 1980s and 1990s, Los Angeles and Dayton, Ohio barricaded selected road entrances into high crime neighborhoods to cut drive-by shooting and drug dealing. Shootings and drug activity did decrease, at least initially. But later crime increased as criminals adapted to the barricades. Furthermore, residents complained about being more isolated, the inconvenience of the barriers, the traffic impact on nearby neighborhoods. Worse still, in Los Angeles they complained about not being invited to participate in planning.
Clearly, CPTED has a bipolar nature – inclusion vs exclusion. The devil truly is in the details! As Jacobs said in Death and Life of Great American Cities: “The first thing to understand is that the public peace …of cities is not kept primarily by the police, necessary as they are. It is kept primarily by an intricate, almost unconscious network of voluntary controls and standards among the people themselves, and enforced by the people themselves.”
BEWARE OF THE EXCLUSIONARY TRIGGERS
Beware of these exclusionary triggers:
by Tarah Hodgkinson
A few years ago, a scorned lover walked onto a public housing project and shot his ex-girlfriend. She lived but has suffered terribly with her injuries ever since. The man did not live there, so how was he able to get onto the property and shoot his ex? Was this a fluke, spur-of-the-moment occurrence that might have been prevented?
In a journal article coming out this year, myself and some colleagues describe how we used crime mapping and analysis to examine questions about such crimes in public housing. We compared the police calls for service over a 7 year period at four nearby public housing facilities of similar size and occupancy. The housing where the shooting (and many other crimes) occurred went through a massive reconstruction during this time. This construction was intended to upgrade the living facilities and improve the overall livability and security of the location.
CPTED DONE WRONG
However, after the construction, we found not only did calls for police service start going back up, but they did so dramatically. In fact, the trend was increasing at a rate that surpassed previous levels of calls for service. This seems counter-intuitive. Why would a place that had made improvements to the image and maintenance of the property, as well as security, see an increase in calls for service when the other public housing developments didn’t?
We conducted field research that provided some context. While interviews with property managers demonstrated knowledge of security measures, particularly CPTED principles, some of these principles were not properly implemented in the redesign.
For example, they constructed a large fence around the perimeter but failed to replace access control gates and security at key points. The redesign had major openings with no gates or doors to restrict outsiders from entering or exiting. While the entire site was fenced, there was no real access control in or out of the property. Unlike other locations we examined, not only did this facility not have security at the entranceways, it lacked a strong community presence. Thus, there were very little natural surveillance opportunities or proper access controls at the entry points where it mattered most.
Clearly, the lack of proper security measures in public housing, like access control and surveillance, can increase the risk of victimization. In this case, it is unsurprising that an outsider was able to walk right through the front entrance, unchallenged, and shoot his ex-girlfriend.
The implications of poorly implemented CPTED are clear, particularly for responsibility and accountability: accountability for competently implementing CPTED principles in a high-risk location, and responsibility for adequate security in public housing facilities to protect vulnerable residents.
SafeGrowth® is a philosophy and theory of neighborhood safety planning for 21st Century.