Crime initiative helps halve burglaries

Joseph Bulmer

AN initiative to ‘design out’ crime in the planning of new developments has been hailed a great success in North Devon, helping to more than halve the number of burglaries in the past 10 years.

The success of the initiative is highlighted in a national publication by the Association of Chief Police Officers on successful crime prevention measures.

The Secure by Design initiative is based on reducing community conflict, the fear of crime and levels of offending by ‘designing out’ crime during the planning and construction of all kinds of developments – from homes and schools to commercial premises.

“That’s certainly been the experience in North Devon, where police have reported an impressive 58% reduction in burglary over the past 10 years,” says the report in the Chief Officers’ publication.

John Knowles, the North Devon, Torridge and Mid-Devon Police Architectural Liaison Officer, believes that implementing the Secured by Design initiative has played a significant role in this achievement, with more than 800 planning applications in the region substantially influenced by SBD in the past decade.

“Poor design causes community conflict, fear of crime or actual crime – and the people who experience its effects are the traditional bobby on the beat and the victims of crime,” says John.

“Designing out opportunities for crime and disorder is a really basic and sound principle, once you explore exactly what it represents and achieves. The police ALO

learns to recognise design features in the built environment that consistently allow or encourage certain types of behaviour. It’s cost-free to design out crime at the planning stage, but it’s much harder to remedy once new developments have been built.”

Under the Secure by Design initiative, planning policy makes it clear that a key objective for new developments should be that they create safe and accessible environments, where crime and disorder or fear of crime does not undermine the quality of life or community cohesion. Planning applications must demonstrate how crime prevention measures have been considered in the design of the proposals.

The police ALO is consulted for input on applications of nine buildings or more and on contentious applications, such as public houses, institutionalised hostels, change of use, such as fast food takeaways and the like.