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Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is being used worldwide. In the late 1980s, Calgary Police Service adopted CPTED and continues to use as guiding strategy in creating and maintaining safer communities.

The Community Youth Services Section, Crime Prevention Team, has a full time CPTED specialist and practitioner assigned to the audit process and the education of CPTED.

For more information on CPTED, see the CPTED brochure or visit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's CPTED web information.

CPTED (pronounced sep-ted)

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), enhances safety by influencing the physical design of our environment and encouraging positive social interaction. CPTED recognizes that our environment directly affects our behaviour, because we constantly respond to what is around us. These responses help us to interact safely in our communities.

Since 1991 the Calgary Police Service has been actively involved in the CPTED audit process and the training of Calgary Police Officers and the civilian sector. The Calgary Police Service conducts approximately 200 CPTED’s annually. Each audit requires a site visit and CPTED inspection by trained Calgary police personnel. After the site visit a report is completed and sent back to the requesting agency.

How does CPTED works

An environment designed using CPTED principles reduces opportunities for criminal acts to take place and helps us to feel safer. By doing so, it improves our quality of life.

CPTED uses strategies that work together to create safer communities. It complements crime prevention strategies such as locks and bars, police and security personnel.

Here are a few examples of how CPTED works:

  • A well maintained home, building or community park creates a sense of guardianship and that helps deter criminals.
  • Community activity is important. Criminal acts can be discouraged in public spaces when we encourage activities in those spaces by residents, visitors and other legitimate users.
  • Natural access control guides help people enter and have a space through the placement of entrances, exits, fences, landscaping and lighting. It can decrease opportunities for criminal activity by denying criminals access to potential targets and creating a perception of risk for would-be offenders.
  • Natural surveillance guides the placement of physical features such as windows, lighting and landscaping. These features affect how much can be seen by occupants and passerby. Potential criminals are unlikely to attempt a crime if they are at risk of being observed. Similarly, we are likely to feel safer when we can see and be seen.
  • Physical design can create an area of territorial influence that may deter potential offenders. Examples include defined property lines and clear distinctions between private and public spaces. Territorial reinforcement can be created using landscaping, pavement designs, gateway treatments, signs and fences.

Implementing CPTED

In existing communities this is best done by a CPTED practitioner who has practiced many years of crime prevention and has completed several CPTED projects. With the assistance of community leaders, crime prevention advocates and input from community members to investigate the root causes of crime, combined with CPTED will greatly help to properly implement CPTED.

In new communities CPTED is best implemented at the development stage and continued through the design and implementation stages.

For more information on CPTED, see the CPTED brochure or visit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's CPTED information.