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Designing out crime

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing, Legal, Regulation

Dr Rachel Armitage Dr Rachel Armitage

Here Dr Rachel Armitage discusses the impact that the changes to the planning system will have on crime prevention.

My research has focused largely on the effectiveness of the Secured by Design (SBD) scheme as a crime reduction measure. Recently, I’ve been interested in the effect of changes in the planning system on the consideration for crime prevention within planning policy and guidance, including the Localism Act (2011), the National Planning Policy Framework and the recent Taylor review of planning guidance.

These changes have seen some forty-four separate policy documents replaced by a fifty-nine page document, and the Taylor review (for which the consultation closed on February 15) recommends the further cancellation of the guidance document Safer Places: The Planning System and Crime Prevention.

The Localism Act also discourages the production of Supplementary Planning Guidance/Documents, which many local authorities had developed in close partnership with police Architectural Liaison Officers/Crime Prevention Design Advisors on the theme of designing out crime.

The Localism Act also provides local communities (through a Parish Council or neighbourhood forum) to develop Neighbourhood Developments Plans, which outline what development will take place and what that development will look like.

There are many positive possibilities of placing decision making in the hands of those who reside and work within an area - these people are more likely to know what crime and disorder problems exist within the area.

However, given the reduction in planning policy and guidance, compounded by recent cuts in police budgets (which have seen the number of police Architectural Liaison Officer/Crime Prevention Design Advisor numbers reduced from 347 in January 2009 to just 196 in August 2012) there is concern regarding the extent to which these communities can make decisions regarding the finer details of design, and the impact of specific housing design on crime risk. 

I will be pursuing further research to investigate the impact of these changes, and working to ensure that evidence based guidance continues to be disseminated to those in a position to influence the planning and development of residential housing. 

Dr Armitage is a Reader in Criminology at the University of Huddersfield. She has worked within the field of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) since 1998, and has published extensively on the subject – specifically the Secured by Design (SBD) scheme. Rachel will be attending the ACPO Secured by Design Training event on the 26th and 27th February, and will be a panel member for ‘The Great Debate’ – a discussion with some of the key voices in housing, planning and crime prevention, at which she hopes to discuss current issues relating to planning and crime prevention.

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