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Secured by design - an investigation of its history, development and future role in crime reduction.

By Rachel Armitage


Secured by Design (SBD) is an award scheme, managed by the Association of Chief Police\ud Officers (ACPO) and supported by the Home Office, which aims to encourage house developers to design homes so as to minimise the crime opportunities which they present.\ud Unlike many crime reduction measures, particularly those addressing the behaviour of\ud offenders or potential offenders, the SBD initiative is proactive - the aim being to intervene prior to a crime problem emerging as opposed to reacting after the event. The implementation of SBD requirest he co-operation of a variety of agenciesf rom police and local authorities to architects and housing developers,and the mechanisms through which it aims to reduce crime have the potential to impact upon the victim, the offender and the location. Recent legislation,in the form of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998, have placedcrime reduction on the agenda of many agencies for whom the issue had historically been of little importance. In the current climate of multi-agency working, initiatives such as SBD have\ud the potential to flourish, but do they actually impact upon crime, disorder and the fear of\ud crime, and are they being used to their maximum potential? This thesis addresses the past\ud (history), present (current practice) and future (potential refinements) of SBD. How did\ud planning become encapsulated in to criminology?Does SBD reduce crime, disorder and the fear\ud of crime?What are the current weaknesses within SBD and how can the initiative be improved?\ud The findings presented within the thesis reveal that properties built to the SBD standard\ud experience lower levels of crime (and their resident's lower levels of fear of crime) than Non-SBD estates matched according to age, housing tenure, location and environmental factors.\ud Whilst the difference in crime rates is not strongly statistically significant, the improving\ud performance of the scheme suggests that a more recent sample would reveal a stronger\ud relationship between SBD status and crime levels.\ud Having established that SBD estates confer a crime reduction advantage the thesis focuses upon\ud identifying how the scheme can be improved as well as the enablers and constraints which exist\ud for those within the social and private sector in deciding whether (or not) to build to the SBD\ud standard. Areas of improvement include ensuring that the scheme implements its own\ud principles, incorporating repeat victimisation packages in to its standards and considering the\ud threat to revoke the scheme for estates found failing to maintain the SBD standards. Levers to\ud encourage social and private sector developers to build to the SBD standard include enhanced\ud funding from the Housing Corporation, the appeal of additional security for homebuyers and\ud the savings incurred through reduced levels of crime and disorder.\ud Continuing its improvement orientation, the thesis presents a risk assessment mechanism to be\ud used by crime reduction practitioners as a means of idenffying which properties will become\ud vulnerable to crime if built (therefore allowing them to challenge planning applications)or in\ud the case of properties already developed, allowing resources to be directed towards properties at most risk. The environmental factors which emerge as associated with elevated crime levels (and therefore score highly on the checklist presented)suggest that higher levels of movement past a property are generally associated with higher levels of risk. Thus in the somewhat heated debate about the role of permeability in enabling crime, the general thrust of the data suggests that high permeability (as proxied by the presence footpaths, levels of pedestrian and vehicular movement and road network) is indeed associated with higher levels of crime

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