Tuesday, June 12, 2018

CPTED on a pendulum

Relaxing in Central Park made easy with benches, clean walkways
and something interesting to watch
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.

Not all dogs agree, but even in rain, dogwalking is pro-social
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.

Talented street artists can beautify unpleasant areas

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.

Street markets provide a fun reason for going outside
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.

Street busker activating a public plaza

FINDING BALANCE

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.

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