Translating CPTED into Crime Preventive Action: A Critical Examination of CPTED as a Tool for Active Guardianship

  • Danielle M. ReynaldEmail author


This paper will argue that the effectiveness of CPTED ought to be judged in terms of the extent to which it is successful in facilitating opportunities for active guardianship of places. With this premise in mind, the CPTED component of surveillance will provide the focal point of investigation. Reynald (Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal, 11(1):1-20, 2009, Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency, 2010b) demonstrated that supervision or natural surveillance is one of the core dimensions of active guardianship in residential areas. This paper will begin with an illustration of how the CPTED principles are translated into crime preventive action in residential environments by using observational data to get a first-hand look at how CPTED functions in practice. The paper will then go on to combine these field observations with interview data from residents themselves to show the ways in which opportunities for the CPTED component of surveillance are affected, not simply by the design of the physical environment, but also by the context in which the opportunities exist. These results will be used to critically reflect on some inherent conflicts and points of neglect in the relationship between the components of surveillance, territoriality and image/maintenance, as a means of airing some of the conceptual and practical weaknesses that may serve to limit the existing CPTED model.


CPTED Guardianship Crime prevention Natural surveillance Territoriality 


  1. Armitage, R. (2000). An evaluation of secured by design within West Yorkshire. Home Office Briefing Note 7/00. London: Crown Copyright.Google Scholar
  2. Armitage, R. (2007). Sustainability versus safety: Confusion, conflict and contradiction in designing out crime. In G. Farrell, K. Bowers, S. Johnson, & M. Townsley (Eds.), Imagination for crime prevention: Essays in Honour of Ken Pease. Crime prevention studies (Vol. 21). Monsey: Criminal Justice Press and Willan Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. Barr, R., & Pease, K. (1992). A place for every crime and every crime in its place: An alternative perspective on crime displacement. In D. J. Evans, N. R. Fyfe, & D. T. Herbert (Eds.), Crime, policing and place, essays in environmental criminology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Brantingham, P. J., & Brantingham, P. L. (1981). Environmental criminology. In P. J. Brantingham & P. L. Brantingham (Eds.), Notes on the geometry of crime (pp. 27–54). Prospect Heights: Waveland.Google Scholar
  5. Brantingham, P. J., & Faust, F. L. (1976). A conceptual model of crime prevention. Crime & Delinquency, 22, 284–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, B. B., & Altman, I. (1983). Territoriality, defensible space and residential burglary: an environmental analysis. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 3, 203–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coupe, T., & Blake, L. (2006). Daylight and darkness targeting strategies and the risks of being seen at residential burglaries. Criminology, 44(2), 431–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cozens, P. (2008). Crime prevention through environmental design. In R. Wortley & L. Mazerolle (Eds.), Environmental criminology and crime analysis. UK: Willan Publishing.Google Scholar
  9. Cozens, P., Hillier, D., & Prescott, G. (2001). Crime and the design of residential property- exploring the theoretical background Part 1. Property Management, 19(2), 136–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cozens, P. M., Pascoe, T., & Hillier, D. (2004). Critically reviewing the theory and practice of Secured By Design (SBD) for residential new-build in Britain. Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal, 6(1), 13–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cozens, P., Saville, G., & Hillier, D. (2005). Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED): a review and modern bibliography. Journal of Property Management, 23(5), 328–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crowe, T. (2000). Crime prevention through environmental design: applications of architectural design and space management concepts (2nd ed.). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar
  13. Ekblom, P. (2006). Crime prevention through environmental design - time for an upgrade? Paper presented at 17th Annual Conference on Problem-Oriented Policing, Madison, USA.Google Scholar
  14. Ekblom, P. (2007). Crime reduction through surveillance and design presentation by Professor Paul Ekblom at the International Crime Reduction Conference organised by the Province of Alberta, Banff, Canada (9th - 11th October).Google Scholar
  15. Ekblom, P. (2009a). Bringing crime prevention through environmental design into the 21st century. Sweden: Solna City Council.Google Scholar
  16. Ekblom, P. (2009b). Teasing apart territoriality...and reassembling it as a useful concept for practice, research and theory. Paper Presented at the Crime Prevention Conference, Keele University (May 2009).Google Scholar
  17. Jacobs, J. (1961). The death and life of great American cities. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  18. Lemanski, C. (2004). A new apartheid? The spatial implications of fear of crime in South Africa. Environment & Urbanization, 16, 101–111.Google Scholar
  19. Lynch, J. P., & Cantor, D. (1992). Ecological and behavioral influences on property victimization at home: implications for opportunity theory. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency, 29(3), 335–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Macdonald, J. E., & Gifford, R. (1989). Territorial cues and defensible space theory: the burglar’s point of view. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 9, 193–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mawby, R. I. (1977). Defensible space: a theoretical and empirical appraisal. Urban Studies, 14, 169–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McCord, E., Ratcliffe, J., Garcia, M. R., & Taylor, R. B. (2007). Nonresidential crime attractors and generators elevate perceived neighborhood crime and incivilities. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 44(3), 295–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Merry, S. E. (1981). Defensible space undefended: social factors in crime control through environmental design. Urban Affairs Quarterly, 16, 397–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Newman, O. (1972). Defensible space: Crime prevention through urban design. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  25. Reynald, D. M. (2009). Guardianship in action: developing a new tool for measurement. Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal, 11(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Reynald, D. M. (2010a). Guardians on guardianship: factors affecting the willingness to monitor, the ability to detect potential offenders & the willingness to intervene. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 47(3), 358–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Reynald, D. M. (2010b). Factors Associated With the Guardianship of Places: Assessing the relative importance of the spatio-physical and socio-demographic contexts in generating opportunities for capable guardianship. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency. 47(3):358-390.Google Scholar
  28. Reynald, D. M., & Elffers, H. (2009). The future of Newman’s defensible space theory: linking defensible space and the routine activities of place. European Journal of Criminology, 6(1), 25–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Saville, G., & Cleveland, G. (1997). 2nd generation CPTED: an antidote to the social Y2K virus of urban design. Paper presented at the 2nd Annual International CPTED Conference, Orlando, FL. (3-5 December). (Available at URL:
  30. Skogan, W. G., & Maxfield, M. G. (1981). Coping with crime. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Taylor, R. B. (2002). Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED): Yes, no, maybe, unknowable, and all of the above. In R. B. Bechtel & A. Churchman (Eds.), Handbook of environmental psychology. NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  32. Taylor, R. B., Gottfredson, S. D., & Brower, S. (1984). Block crime and fear: defensible space, local social ties, and territorial functioning. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 21, 303–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Taylor, R. B., Koons, B., Kurtz, E., Greene, J., & Perkins, D. (1995). Streetblocks with more nonresidential landuse have more physical deterioration: evidence from Baltimore and Philadelphia. Urban Affairs Review, 30, 120–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. van Nes, A. (2005). Burglaries in the burglar's vicinity. In A. Nes (Ed.), 5th international space syntax symposium volume I (pp. 479–493). Amsterdam: Techne Press.Google Scholar
  35. Welsh, B., & Farrington, D. (2009). Making public places safer: Surveillance and crime prevention. NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Wilson, J. Q., & Kelling, G. (1982). Broken windows: the police and neighborhood safety. Atlantic Monthly, 249, 29–38.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Criminology & Criminal Justice, Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance ResearchGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Mt Gravatt campusGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations