Environmental Design Strategies really refers to how the environment surrounding your building affects its susceptibility to crime – especially burglary, robbery and vandalism. In designing and managing the environment, what you need to bear in mind is ‘natural access control’, ‘natural surveillance’ and ‘territorial reinforcement’.
1. Natural Access Control
The idea behind natural access control is to create the perception in the mind of the would- be criminal that they are at an increased risk of being observed and caught. This is achieved by clearly demarking what is public space and what is private space. Typically this involves using physical barriers – closed and locked doors and gates and sometimes guards.
These physical measures clearly define where people can and cannot go, creating the perception of heightened risk when an unauthorised person considers venturing into a ‘private’ area.
2. Natural Surveillance
Again, this is a matter of designing or configuring the space – inside and outside a building – such that it feels like an individual can be easily observed, thereby increasing the perceived risk of being caught.
Strategies include keeping outdoor public spaces open, well-lit and uncluttered, using obvious surveillance systems including cameras and guards, keeping floor plans in retail outlets open and exposed and, again in retail/wholesale environments, keeping exterior windows clear of posters and other paraphernalia that can block the view of outside observers.
The idea is to create the impression, if not the reality, that someone is watching.
3. Territorial Reinforcement
This is a function of making it clear that an area is “owned” and “cared for”. Neglected premises, whether they’re occupied or not, attract more crime – especially vandalism. Make sure that you keep your premises free of rubbish, keeping lawns and gardens well tended and quickly remove graffiti and replacing damaged glass and the like will indicate to a would-be thief that your business is in active use and receives a lot of attention – thereby increasing the risk of being caught.