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Using urban design to reduce crime

National Guidelines for using urban design to reduce crime launched

Wellington, 24 November: National Guidelines for using good quality urban design to reduce crime were launched today by the Minister of Justice, Hon Mark Burton.

National Guidelines for Crime Prevention through Environmental Design in
New Zealand produced by the Ministry of Justice will help local authorities, architects and urban planners in creating safer public spaces.

Principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) can be applied to new development and redevelopment to improve an area’s security, for both people and property, as well as enhancing the quality of the local environment.

“Reducing crime and building safer communities is a priority for all New Zealanders,” and these guidelines outline how urban planning, design and place management strategies can reduce the likelihood of crime and deliver numerous social and economic benefits in the long-term” said Jeremy Wood, Director of the Crime Prevention Unit of the Ministry of Justice.

The Guidelines are based on CPTED principles used in cities around the world and adjusted to suit New Zealand communities. In developing the guidelines the Ministry of Justice has worked closely with many diverse interest groups form the state, private and community sectors.

Key partners in the development of the guidelines have been Local Government New Zealand, the Ministry for the Environment, the National Taskforce for the Reduction of Community Violence, local authorities, Police, groups working in crime prevention, and architects, urban designers and planners in the private sector.

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“The principles outlined in the Guidelines are practical and relevant to New Zealand environments and will make a significant contribution to helping communities reduce crime and the fear of crime” said Jeremy Wood.


CPTED backgrounder

What is CPTED?

- CPTED is a crime prevention philosophy based on proper design and effective use of the built environment. CPTED principles can help reduce crime and fear of crime.

- CPTED principles began to be developed in the United States in the late 1960s. Since then, they have been developed and applied in many countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada and South Africa.

Why use CPTED Guidelines?

- CPTED reduces opportunities for crime and encourages positive activity in public spaces. CPTED principles emphasise natural design and planning strategies with methods such as security patrols or closed circuit television recommended only when other options are unsuitable.

- CPTED is part of a range of strategies to create safer communities and help groups work together to improve communities. Public spaces that are safe, and where people feel safe, are vibrant and attract people, activity and investment.

- Many safe design principles also reinforce basic principles of good urban design.

Who should use the Guidelines?

- The Crime Prevention Unit of the Ministry of Justice has written the Guidelines primarily for planners and designers within local authorities. However, they will also be useful to Police, groups working in crime prevention (such as Safer Community Trusts), architects, urban designers, engineers, planners and building managers involved in planning, designing and managing publicly-accessible places.

What are the main CPTED principles?

- The Guidelines break down CPTED principles to define seven qualities for well-designed safer public spaces.
1. Access – there are well-designed routes, spaces and entrances so people can move around conveniently and safely.

2. Surveillance – crime is less likely where there is maximum visibility with clear sightlines.
3. Layout – public spaces are laid out in a way that discourages crime and enhances perceptions of safety.
4. Mix of activity – crime is less likely in public spaces used by a mix of people at all times.
5. Sense of ownership – there is more respect for public spaces where there is a sense of community ownership.
6. Quality environments – crime is less likely in public spaces that are well designed, well managed and well maintained.

7. Physical protection – this is the addition of more security features into urban designs so crime is harder to commit and there is a greater chance of getting caught.

Is it costly to apply CPTED principles?

- Once local authorities and urban designers are familiar with the CPTED Guidelines, the principles can be easily applied to new projects, used to assess existing public spaces or built into ongoing maintenance and upgrading programmes and district plans. It is up to each local authority to decide how to use the CPTED principles to suit the needs of their community.

How quickly will communities start to see CPTED benefits take effect?

- Many local authorities are already using some CPTED principles in their work but the Guidelines introduce principles within a New Zealand context and suggest different ways they can be implemented.

- Implementation options range from small projects that can have an immediate impact, to longer term strategies to integrate CPTED principles into planning, design and management of all public spaces.

- Local authorities will receive the CPTED guide late in 2005 with further training suited to their needs provided in 2006. It is expected that local authorities will then use CPTED principles in ongoing work programmes and new projects.

How were the CPTED Guidelines developed?

- A series of workshops were held during 2005 involving a range of agencies including Local Government New Zealand, Police, local authorities, and groups working in crime prevention, as well as the Ministry for the Environment, urban designers, architects and planners.

What other initiatives will support the CPTED Guidelines?

- The Ministry of Justice and Local Government New Zealand will provide DVD-based training and seminars for staff of local authorities.

- The Ministry of Justice also has funding available to local authorities for crime prevention activities that meet criteria related to CPTED.

- There are also close connections with the Ministry for the Environment’s Urban Design Protocol and related publications.

Where is the CPTED guide available?

- Local Government New Zealand will send copies to all local authorities and the Ministry of Justice will send copies to government agencies, and private urban planners and designers.

- The guide can be read online at the Ministry of Justice website,


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