To What Extent Do Environmental Considerations to Design Out Criminality Assist in Reducing Criminal Activity?

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Crime has been an issue that has plagued societies since the very first were introduced and came to effect. During the years different policies and different considerations have been developed to understand, fight or reduce criminality. This essay will attempt to identify whether environmental considerations to design out criminality actually assist in reducing criminal activity or simply end up being a short-term solution to a bigger problem that never goes away. The model of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) will be examined and its practical application in neighbourhoods through target hardening of buildings and neighbourhoods. Other prominent environmental crime prevention theories, such as Broken Windows theory (Wilson & Kelling, 1985) are discussed and its implications on social control and neighbourhood pride is another part of this model that will be visited and whether further application would result in better outcomes.

Developed in the 1980s was the Rational Choice Theory.
“The theory argues that would-be criminals make a rational choice assessment of the possible consequences of their actions and take the opportunity to commit a crime only if the economic advantages would outweigh the disadvantages” (Jones, 2009).

Elaborating on that it is then apparent that the more opportunity a criminal has with as less disadvantages the more likely it is that this person would commit crime. So how does society then take steps to reduce these opportunities that can be attractive to a criminal and at the same time increase the disadvantages that the commission of this crime would present to the criminal willing to take the risk? From the above, theories and designs were developed such as Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) (Jeffery, 1971).

CPTED was developed to simply make it as difficult as possible for a criminal to commit crime thus reducing the opportunity, raise the possibility of that person getting caught thus increasing the disadvantages by employing a wealth of measures designing crime out of a neighbourhood. This includes more use of CCTV, increasing physical security measures in households (bars in windows, harder doors, alarm systems etc.). It also involves consultation in new buildings when they are designed to reduce the opportunities for crime by introducing better lighting, less spots where a criminal can hide and other measures that increase natural surveillance and awareness.

The specific measures around increasing a building’s physical security by adding alarms, bars on windows etc. is also known as Target Hardening. The idea behind implementing the CPTED theories is to reduce the opportunities available to a criminals by increasing physical barriers in their way towards their goal at the time in a building. This can be as simple as introducing gates in communities widely seen initially in the United States and later also seen implemented in the United Kingdom where neighbourhoods would simply in effect be cut off from general traffic and access by introducing a gate in the various points of access. This would result in reducing the flow of people with access to these communities to those that had a valid reason to be there either being residents or workers that had agreed access to these communities. This could be enforced by simply having those gates with code access points making them open. This could be further reinforced by introducing the human element in the form of guards on those gates controlling access. Going back from the overall neighbourhood element and looking at building specific target hardening this includes introducing alarm systems, gates in the actual homes, bars in windows, better doors and locks in those hardened doors.

In the 1980s-1990s in the United States of America saw the large increase of gated communities whereby thousands of middle and upper class families start living there being willing and able to afford the...
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