Crime Prevention through Environmental Design Proposal
Recent reports suggest that crime in the city is on an upward trend. Incidents of murder has risen sharply across many U.S. cities. In addition, other violent crimes are also on the rise, with record double-digit percentage increase rates reported in 2015. The high accounts of violent crimes in several U.S. cities has sparked concerns about a possible crime wave. Facing a possibility of new crime wave, there is need for authorities to examine possible crime prevention strategies that can help minimize incidents of crime. Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) has been identified as a highly effective strategy in fighting crime across different cities. CPTED is a modern approach in crime prevention that focuses on discouraging criminal behavior in communities through environmental design. CPTED is a complex strategy in crime prevention and may involve a number of other interventions as well. Past researches show that CPTED is an effective long-term strategy in fighting crime.
Review of Literature
Radosevich (2012) conducted a comparative study to analyze the impacts of a CPTED strategy in reducing crime in selected neighborhoods. The research employs both qualitative as well as quantitative methods in evaluating the effectiveness of CPTED in these areas. Qualitative data was collected through observation while quantitative data was obtained from crime reports derived from various reliable sources. The results of the study indicated that CPTED strategy reduced crimes in the areas it was applied.
Cozens, Saville and Hillier (2005) reviewed the existing literature on crime prevention research. The three conducted large-scale analysis of crime prevention approaches. The aim of this research was to analyze the effectiveness of CPTED as a crime prevention strategy. The review found that CPTED is effective in reducing crime. Nonetheless, the study did not provide a comprehensive analysis of all evaluations of crime prevention through environmental design.
Cozens and Love (2015) reviews the historical background of CPTED and the current status of the concept. The duo examines the use the design in early human settlements such as iron-age castles and forts. Early designs included landscaping, moats, use of walls, use of draw-bridges, and other structures which used to control access. In 1285, Edward I of England enacted a statute requiring landowners along highways to clear vegetation which was being used by criminals to hide and attack traders. In reviewing the current status of CPTED, the duo investigates the effectiveness of the concept as a crime prevention strategy in communities by conducting a meta-analysis of different studies. The study finds that CPTED is largely effective in deterring crimes in various communities. However, the study notes that there is need for CPTED to continually adapt to the changing environment in light of increasing urbanization, emergence of new technologies, and changing population dynamics.
Casteel and Peak-Asa (2000) conducted an empirical investigation to establish the effectiveness of CPTED in reducing incidences of robberies in the U.S. The study had two types of inclusion criteria. In the first type, sixteen primary studies analyzed a CPTED program, while in the second type, twelve secondary studies analyzed a different CPTED program. The studies were concerned with the outcomes of the programs which were measured in terms of percentages. The primary studies established a reduction in robberies by between 84% and 30%. Secondary studies indicated a crime reduction of 92%. The study concludes that CPTED is an effective approach in reducing incidences of robbery. However, the study does not indicate which components were most effective in reducing robberies. Multiple components were evaluated during the study. Some of them were lighting, visibility, escape routes, use of equipment such as alarms and cameras, training people, and others.
Trujillo et al. (2016) analyzes the incidences of crime in nighttime leisure zones such as areas around bars. Most studies focus on crime in large areas and over a long period of time. This study focuses on interactions that occur in specific environments such areas of public entertainment. The study was conducted over a period of 4 months, with over 150 hours of observation in select areas. Field notes obtained were transcribed and the results used to develop conceptual maps that enabled the researchers to understand crime patterns. The study indicates that although the physical environments may be similar, place-based dynamics play a greater role in determining incidences of crime. The study indicates that most incidences of crime such as fights occurs in route ways around bars.
Problem, Theory, Variables, and Hypothesis
There is lack of adequate research on the effectiveness of crime prevention through environmental design strategy. With an increase in the urban population (more than half of world’s population live in urban areas), there is need for effective strategies in checking crime in urban areas. The urbanized population is also projected to increase to 60% by 2030. An increase in urban population is projected to increase crime rates proportionately. Another issue of concern is crime boundaries. Currently, there are limitations on evidence relating to effectiveness of CPTED with regard to boundary issues. The two main issues of concern are whether CPTED strategy displaces crime beyond the strategy’s boundaries and/or: whether the strategy reduces crime outside the boundaries in which the intervention is applied.
CPTED as a crime prevention strategy involves the careful design of the built environment in order to reduce fear of crime among individuals as well as the actual incidences of crime. This involves properly designing the environment in a way that it eliminates opportunities that are be utilized by criminals to commit crimes. For instance, this can be achieved by creating barriers to targets, restricting escape routes for criminals, eliminate places they can use as shelter, and generally improve surveillance levels. CPTED recommends a number of strategies in fighting crime which include target hardening, maintenance, access control, territoriality, activity support, and surveillance. Maintenance is related to the broken windows theory which asserts that neglect and visible deterioration have significant impact on behavior of individuals in relation to the intent to commit crime.
The focus of CPTED is crime reduction through environmental design. The implementation of CPTED programs in communities will help bring down crime rates in such areas. The independent variable in the study is the application of crime prevention through environmental design strategy in communities. Most people support the application of CPTED strategy in crime reduction as it is seen as an effective strategy. This research will aim at analyzing the effectiveness of the strategy in fighting crime. The dependent variable in the study is crime rates. This study will evaluate the effectiveness of CPTED in reducing incidences of crime in locations where the strategy has been implemented. The indicator of changes in crime rates is the number of reported criminal incidents during the period under study.
The main hypothesis of this study is that application of CPTED strategy in an area leads to a reduction in crime rates in the same area. The second hypothesis is that CPTED does not displace crime beyond its boundary area.
A quasi-experimental approach will be used in the study. The study will involve an analysis of crime rates in three apartment complexes. Specific variables will be compared in each of the apartment complexes in a bid to establish whether environmental design has an impact on crime levels. Specific variables to be analyzed include maintenance, access control, territoriality, activity support, and surveillance. A quasi-experimental approach is the best in this study. This approach is commonly used in measuring social variables especially where it is difficult to randomize groups to be used in the study. The research requires analysis of crime reports in areas where CPTED strategy has been implemented. This means that it may not be possible to take random samples.
Casteel, C. & Peek-Asa, C. (2000). Effectiveness of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) in Reducing robberies. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 18(4): 1-18.
Cozens, P. & Love, T. (2015). A Review of the Current Status of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). Journal of Planning Literature, 3(1):1-20.
Cozens, P. M., Saville, G., Hillier, D. (2005). Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED): a review and modern bibliography. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 23(5): 1-34.
Radosevich, R. M. (2012). Crime prevention through environmental design and crime rates in apartment settings. Regis University.
Trujillo, M. P., Reyes, M. F., Cabrera, L., & Gomez, A. P. (2016). Changing the Beat: Fostering the Prevention of Alcohol-Related Violence in Nighttime Leisure Zones. International Criminal Justice Review, 3(1):1-23