Essay on Crime: Natural access control

According to Hillier, “natural access control is a CPTED concept determined and focused on reducing crime opportunities by denying access to potential targets and creating a heightened perception of risk in offenders” (Hillier, 2005). The researcher Cozens states that “natural access control is a CPTED concept determined and focused on reducing crime opportunities by denying access to potential targets and creating a heightened perception of risk in offenders” (Cozens, 2005). Finally, the NCPC considers that “natural access control is dependent on fences, shrubs, doors and various other physical fundamentals to prevent unauthorised unlawful criminals and people out of a specific location without legitimate grounds for being there” (NCPC, 2003).

It is quite easy to achieve access control in residential areas. Such efficient and economical methods as appropriate doors, window barriers and locks would be enough to ensure protection against intruders. According to the NCPC, it is also possible to achieve crime reduction with the help of the following means: “properly located entrances, exits, fencing, landscaping and lighting can subtly direct both foot and vehicular traffic in ways that decreases criminal opportunities” (NCPC, 2003).

The access control investigation offers an idea that it might be very problematic to apply this strategy on streets and in such areas where there are open public spaces. According to the researcher of crime studies Crawford the “psychological and non-physical barriers can be adopted to attain the idea ad purpose of access control” (Crawford, 1998). According to the NCPC manual, natural access control may “come in the form of nature strips or even road surface textures that promote the uniqueness and integrity of an area, because any approach or strategy that encourages access control is expected to hinder movement and therefore careful thought should be given to access control strategies, especially in residential developments” (NCPC, 2003).

The Newman’s research it is pointed out that there is a certain link between the quantity of crimes and the design of the area, including areas with unlimited movement. According to Cozens research on access control, there are fewer crimes in busy areas, such as streets full of pedestrians around (Cozens 2005).

Territorial reinforcement

Territorial reinforcement uses good maintenance and landscaping to create borders between private and public property. In the NRPS investigation, the borders’ influence and aim are explained as follows: “the boundaries are not created to prevent an individual from physically entering a property, but to create a sense of territoriality and convey a message to offenders and trespassers that the property is under ownership” (NRPS, 2001).

However, Crawford states that “it is clear physical design can extend or create a sphere of influence to develop intelligence of territory control while potential offenders, perceiving this control are discouraged” (Crawford, 1998). Newman investigated “defensible space” and considered that “identifying intruders is less complicate in well defined spaces” (Newman, 1996).

Paul Cozens states that “Newman used the term defensible space to describe the residential environment designed in such a way as to allow residents and homeowners to supervise, and to be seen responsible for the areas in which they live” (Cozens, 2005).

Investigating this problem, Newman had a strong belief that with the help of real or symbolic boundaries inhabited areas can be categorized as different parts which can be easily managed by dwellers. This strategy helps dwellers adopt such a way of thinking as “this is my territory” (Newman, 1996). However, Newman considered that certain measures should be taken in order to achieve it to full extent. These are:

-      Protectable spaces should be owned and regulated by local citizens which concerns both inside and outside buildings.

-      Public should evaluate the area as private or semi-private.

-      Colquhoun states that “in high rise blocks and Massenet’s flats where a high density of residents live, it is important that staircases serve as small number of residential units as possible so the residents recognise one another and more importantly recognise criminals and intruders” (Colquhoun, 2004).

The strategy demonstrates the necessity to use crime prevention means that can assist in revealing the opportunities in the built environment “both to naturally and routinely facilitate access control and surveillance and to reinforce positive behaviour in the use of the environment” (Hillier, 2005).

Maintenance and management

The Cozens research shows numerous effects of the appropriate use of maintenance and management in the areas with high crime rates. He states the following: “Promoting a positive image as well as consistently preserving the built environment certifies that the physical environment continues to function effectively and conveys a positive signs to all residents and users” (Cozens, 2005). It is also viewed as a proper maintenance of the area and is interconnected with territorial reinforcement stated by the NCPC: “neighbourhood sense of pride is linked with the territorial reinforcement, as the more rundown an area is the more probable it is to draw unnecessary criminal activities” (NCPC, 2003).

Finally, sustaining a proper image of an area can influence the chances of crime occurrence. Besides, it makes it possible for “work towards social cohesion as well as a general sense of reinforcement through security to enhance the development, identity and image of a community” (France, 2007). The research of Crawford goes along with the theory of France concerning influences of CPTED, which “may develop the overall image residents may have for their area and external perceptions” (Crawford, 1998).

Moreover, the NCPC states the following: “Nevertheless with clear spatial definitions, for instance subdivisions of areas as well as the improvements of the standards and expectations will only decrease the level of social estrangement” (NCPC, 2003). Both of them have similar views on the influence of the management and maintenance of the residential area and its crime level.

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