Six recently built housing schemes were examined as part of a Cabe crime and urban design research project that was funded by the Home Office and undertaken in 2009-2010.
Themed briefing papers that explore the wider learning from the research are published alongside our case studies by researchers at the Applied Criminology Centre at the University of Huddersfield, who completed the original research for Cabe.
Why was this work undertaken?
Cabe and the Home Office were keen to investigate the crime experience of contemporary housing schemes, particularly those that would be considered by Cabe and the design community to represent good design. Feedback from design, planning and crime prevention professionals pointed to a lack of evidence and learning available on how such schemes were performing and confusion in current design guidance. Evidence was weakest particularly on higher density schemes, built to reflect current urban design principles and which would be considered by Cabe and the design community to represent “good design”. At times, this lack of evidence has led to a polarisation of views and confusion as to what might be the best approach to achieve safer neighbourhoods from the outset, particularly when designers and planners are also seeking to meet other design objectives as part of a place making agenda.
The Cabe team at the Design Council is pleased to be presenting this new evidence to help designers and other stakeholders create safe, attractive neighbourhoods. We are clearly aware that crime and fear of crime is a critical issue in how residents view their neighbourhood and their resultant quality of life.
Who is it for?
We would encourage all who are involved in the design of new developments to read and use these case studies and the briefing papers. With the changes underway in the planning system under the Localism bill, there are likely to be wider range of possible stakeholders involved in developing new neighbourhoods. Community groups developing neighbourhood plans and community right to build proposals will wish to learn more alongside planning and design professionals and police crime prevention design advisors.
How did we undertake the research?
The case studies were selected to take two schemes from each of three police force areas (Greater Manchester, Kent and West Midlands) that had achieved a Building for Life standard (14 or more points) or were rated “good” or better in the CABE Housing Audit. The schemes were a range of types from city centre and suburban schemes to larger scale regeneration or urban expansion schemes. All but one of the schemes were built predominately for private sale.
The researchers conducted site visits to analyse and map the specific design features and layout of the scheme down to the level of an individual dwelling and then examined the recorded crime in the scheme. This analysis used recorded crime data, qualitative interviews with key stakeholders including neighbourhood policing teams and local crime prevention design advisors, facilitated walkabouts and data on the connectivity of street layouts.
What types of crime did we look at?
- Burglary dwelling
- Theft of and from vehicles
- Theft from the person
- Criminal damage
Although we did not set out to include anti-social behaviour or neighbour disputes in the research brief much of the feedback from local police and planners, particularly in on site walkarounds, showed that such incidents were more common than actual recorded crime events and had resulted in police or local authority resources being used to attend and resolve matters.
We felt it was important to include this feedback so stakeholders can understand how design can lessen the opportunity for the whole continuum of activities occurring as it appeared that some crime events escalated from initial non-criminal disputes between neighbours and some crime events caused related anti-social behaviour incidents.