CPTED design strategies



The world today is full of criminal activities. Nevertheless, people are getting accustomed to this reality. Deliberations on this matter have conventionally focused on punishment and arrest as opposed to crime prevention mechanism which cannot be implemented until after a crime has been committed.  Crime prevention provides immense benefits to all potential victims. The prevention of crime via CPTED is a distinct technique towards crime prevention. It has major ramifications as opposed to use of steel doors or bullet proof windows, CPTED strategies are easily applied and cheap during their design making it easy to implement across the world.

CPTED security design strategies have grown over the years. Though several real techniques have been applied for several years, it’s been a few years since experts in urban planning discovered the correlation between criminal character and built environment.  Each of the CPTED security design strategies provides insights which property developers, owners, remodelers should consider to minimize the fear of crime incidences as well as improve the quality of life. Recently, security professionals have recognized that crime is avoidable that can be prevented through quality design. This report discusses the three security designs strategies commonly known as CPTED namely Natural access control, natural surveillance and territorial reinforcement.

Natural surveillance

The integration of activities, physical features and people to some extent reduces visibility and is one item aimed at making it easy to identify intruders thus making them less likely to carry out criminal activities. Aspects that optimize the visibility of parking areas, people as well as entrances to buildings are unobstructed windows and doors, sidewalks that are friendly to pedestrians as the as good lighting when there is darkness.

Natural access control

This is another design principle primarily aimed at reducing crime opportunities through denying criminals access to possible targets and establishing a risk perception for all offenders. Human beings are guided physically by space within the strategic design of sidewalks, streets, landscaping, building entrances and gateways to neighborhoods. Elements of design are integral to clearly mark public routes as well as restrict access to areas considered as private.

Territorial reinforcement

Physical design can also extend or create a sphere of influence. People are encouraged to establish some feeling of territorial control, while possible criminals, looking at such control s remain discouraged. This design concept integrates aspects that outline property boundaries and distinguish between public and private spaces with the aid or pavement designs, landscape plantings and all necessary fences.

Below are examples of CPTED design strategies recommendations in various areas. Basically the recommendations discussed below are general and apply to specific areas. However, in some cases some more recommendations maybe added or removed depending on the complexity and environment.

Single family homes

Residential places are always important to any city or town, where occupants should feel more secure. Though there might be several options with regard to walking through specific parts of the city, there are few options with regard to streets in residential areas. The idea is to actually know your neighbors, foster good security practices and design homes and streets to promote interaction.

Natural access control

This technique commonly employs landscaping and walkways to direct people to the entrance to a property as well as away from all designated private areas.

Natural surveillance

Natural surveillance commonly advocates that front doors must be visible partially or full from the adjacent street, all doors opening to the outside must be fully illuminated. Furthermore, windows must be installed on all house walls to ensure sufficient visibility of the house, driveways must be at least visible from the front or back door or at least a house window. Sidewalks or empty yard areas must also have sufficient illumination lastly, install the necessary landscaping that shall permit unobstructed views of all potentially vulnerable windows and doors from the adjacent street or nearby properties.

Territorial reinforcement

This principle advocates that private areas as well as property boundaries must be marked using pavement treatments, plantings or fences. Use of porches or front stoops to establish some transitional area between a property and the street. Lastly, the street should be visible clearly at night

Office buildings

As offices expand and vehicle and pedestrian traffic increases, it becomes extremely important to consider safety. Irrespective of the structure size, security can actually be guaranteed. For example, all building tenants must use biometric identification to grant access. Steel anti-ram barricades should be used to ensure security in loading areas as well as garages and finally metal grills embedded with letter-sized slits must cover all mail slots.

Natural surveillance

Install and use enough lighting on all common areas, exterior doors and hallways. Position restrooms at observable locations from offices. Design exterior doors and windows such that they are visible from neighboring buildings or streets. Keep the shrubbery within three feet visibility height. Keep dumpsters visible as well as avoid establishing hiding places or blind spots or locate them in secured garages or corrals. Design interior doors and windows to give hallways visibility. Place parking areas where they are visible from the office windows. Do not obstruct windows or entrances and finally, prune lower tree branches to within seven feet from the ground.

Natural access control

Clearly outline public entrances using architectural design elements, landscaping, lighting or pavement signs and minimize the number of public access points to those that are guarded, or that first require biometric identification before being granted access.

Territorial reinforcement

Differentiate between exterior public and private areas. Mark perimeters with boundaries or landscaping. Position security guards at all entry points and design all fencing to maintain maximum visibility from the street or neighboring structures.

Multi-family homes

Home such as duplexes, town homes or apartment complexes pose similar security challenges as single family structures, though this challenges can be compounded by the number of persons or structures. Shared hallways, public areas, parking areas, elevators and laundry rooms pose a design problem to the prevention of crime. Multi-family structures don not ideally mean multi-challenges. There is a significant level of truth to the phrase there is safety in numbers. Managers of such properties may be required to establish opportunities for neighbors to interact with each other as well as create joint neighborhood programs. If neighbors take personal responsibilities it establishes a secure environment.

Natural access control

Always keep patio enclosures and balcony railings as low as possible using materials that are opaque. Outline entrance points to every parking site with architectural design, landscaping or symbolic gateways. When addressing construction features and railing heights comply with standard regional building regulations. Allow not more than four apartment structures to share one entrance, it is desirable to have individual entrances. Block off all dead end spaces using fences. Provide sufficient illumination to all hallways.  Use devices that lock automatically upon closing common structure entrances. Discourage loitering by visitors or enforce occupancy lease provisions.

Natural surveillance

Install windows on all building facades to facilitate optimum surveillance. Design structures such that exterior doors are visible to adjacent neighbors or streets.  Install sufficient lighting in all doors which open to the outside. Designate special parking lots for visitors. Assign specific parking lots to all residents. Locate spaces that are near to residential units, but unmarked using their unit numbers. This makes it easy to locate illegal parking making it less likely to occur.

Make all parking lots visible from doors and windows. Allow shrubbery to be at least three feet height for clear visibility in vulnerable locations. Sufficiently illuminate all parking lots as well as pedestrian pathways. Create stairways and elevators in areas that are clearly visible from the reception or guard desks. Position recreation facilities such that they are visible from several units and entrances. Ensure that stairways and elevators are effectively lit. Conceal or screen dumpsters, but desist from creating hiding places or blind spots. Place playgrounds in locations that are visible clearly from building units but not near to streets or parking lots. Design buildings such that windows of one unit are visible from one or two other units.

Territorial reinforcement

Accentuate all building entrances using lighting, architectural elements or landscaping. Outline property boundaries using decorative fencing or landscaping. Give Arabic numerals within at least 3 inches of height using a stroke that is at least half inch. Use low shrubberies a maximum of three feet and fences to enable clear visibility from the street. Identify clearly all residential and building units using numbers which are clearly visible from a five meter distance. Where necessary, locate mailboxes that are locked individually near the specific residential units.


In most modern day industry site designs, safety is always a major consideration to those who work or visit the sites. Regrettably, safety with respect to crime prevention is usually given less consideration. After normal working hours, areas with industries are normally inadequately illuminated, rarely under any surveillance type and almost deserted. In addition to isolation, industrial areas possible danger spots service entrances, loading docks, expansive parking areas and blind alleys, it creates a potentially highly unsafe environment.

Natural surveillance

Design the reception point to have a clear view to parking areas especially those allocated to visitors. Define and illuminate all entrances such that they are visible to security patrol vehicles and the public. Position parking attendants for optimum property visibility. Make all parking lots visible to pedestrians, patrol cars, building personnel and parking attendants. Avoid creating blind spots or hiding places in storage yards, alleys or loading docks. Use walls in situations that is necessary and where used, make them strong and high enough to avoid circumvention.

Natural access control

Avoid dead-end street designs driveways to optimize surveillance opportunities from patrol cars. Restrict access to building roofs by using dumpsters, stacked items or loading docks. Assign parking attendants by shifts and give night shift personnel close in spaces. Use secure entrances as well as biometric access control to regulate entry. Restrict direct vehicle or pedestrian access to railroad tracks. Have the personnel entrance close to employee parking lots and their work stations.

Keep entrances to the building to a minimum number and ensure that they are constantly monitored. Plan storage yards for visual or vehicle access by patrol cars. Keep parking lots for night time separate from service areas. Use distinct well marked entrance for product or material deliveries. Use different docks for shipping, packaging and shipping. Limit access between various areas internally and externally. And give access to the front and the back of the industrial site such that the grounds can be easily patrolled.

Territorial reinforcement

Establish an adequately defined gateway or entrance with fences, plantings or gates. Outline vehicle entrances using signs and pavements. Limit all deliveries to daytime and one entry point. Separate parking from shipping and receiving points.


Crime prevention via these environmental design principles can greatly help in making a community safe and secure. It’s not deemed possible to make a structure or building immune to crime activity. The suggestions integrated in this paper should largely help in reducing the probability of crime occurrence. If the three CPTED strategies are adequately maintained and applied. There might be situations in which information in this discussion conflicts with the building guideline in certain states or areas. It is only important to seek clarifications from the crime prevention unit and security operatives for further guidelines.

CPTED strategies could assist in eliminating major problems. Since lighting is a critical aspect of CPTED design, regardless of the structure or area, the necessary lighting guidelines must be put into place. Effective lighting assist persons in feeling more secure with their environments. It promotes clear pathways, driveways and walkways for movement as well as indicate entryways without establishing shadowy blind spots. Hopefully, together with feeling safe, CPTED strategies will introduce a feeling of enhance social responsibility. It is undoubtedly the biggest crime prevention approach that exists currently.

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