Crime and the design of residential property - exploring the theoretical background. Part 1

Paul Cozens, David Hillier, Gwyn Prescott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract This paper provides a critical review of “Defensible Space” (Newman, 1973) and traces the development of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) in America and Canada, and Secured By Design (SBD) initiatives in the UK. It is argued that various aspects of the theory have avoided consideration and require further investigation and research. It is opined that “defensible space” is the theoretical foundation to both CPTED and SBD and it is posited that a thorough re-examination of Newman’s ideas will serve to deepen our understanding of the complex relationship between the built environment and crime. British (BS8220) and European (CEN TC/325) Standards relating to urban planning and environmental design and crime reduction are currently receiving detailed deliberation and are based firmly upon Newman’s ideas. The projected need for some 4.4 million new homes in Britain (DOE, 1995) by 2016 and Lord Roger’s call for improvements in urban design to reduce suburban migration from cities (DETR, 1999) reiterates the importance of the subject matter. This paper (the first of two) recognises that design per se does not represent the panacea for reducing criminogeneity, rather, that “defensible space” CPTED and SBD should be considered as crime prevention strategies, which can, in common with all other initiatives, contribute to tackling the problem of residential crime. In conclusion, it is argued that further research concerning how “defensible space” is perceived by various crucial stakeholders in society is the way forward in this regard. A second, forthcoming paper (PM, Vol. 19 No. 3) will present these research findings
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136 - 164
Number of pages28
JournalProperty Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


  • crime
  • design
  • urban environment


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