This month’s agenda question was ‘How can landscaping help to prevent crime?’. Read below to find out six different people’s responses.
Mak Gilchrist, founding director and curator of The Edible Bus Stop.
By introducing design-led intuitive landscaping and planting into areas previous known for anti-social behaviour, from our experience, that a transformation occurs. Social behaviour is encouraged and these areas are forgotten or left behind communities. When a public realm improvement is delivered with planting, especially where edibles can be picked, such as herbs, berries or fruit trees, this helps engender pride and a sense of place within that community. We will often work with local stake holders to generate in-kind support such as pavement washing, adding trash cans and fixing lights. All these elements with the planting will help to lower crime and dysfunction. We start by engaging with the community very early on and encourage them to feel welcome to help plant with us.
Romy Rawlings, UK Business Development Manager, Vestre
When it comes to outdoor furniture, individual elements have a key role to play in crime prevention. The most critical might be in hostile vehicle mitigation – ideally not huge lumps of concrete dumped around the perimeter of a site! Other examples include secure cycle parking – often the Sheffield type hoop – being desirable to enable three-point locking, which should deter bike theft. The thoughtful positioning of seating can help to alleviate perceived antisocial activities street drinking, since it can be branded criminal activities. Even the provision of adequate litter bins should play a part in thwarting the crime of dropping litter.
In addition, maintaining every feature of a landscape in good condition will prevent further deterioration due to ‘broken window syndrome’, which suggests that visible signs of crime and disorder create and environment that encourages further law-breaking.
Darryl Moore, Director, Cityscapes
We always have to address the issue of ‘Designing out Crime’ whenever we engage on new public projects – this generally involves considering the impact of planting on visibility lines. Also the arrangement of street furniture is something that funders wish to address.
Making sure that a place is well used and has buy-in from local stakeholders is essential to its general success and in turn to addressing crime. Creating green spaces that provide people with opportunities to dwell increases the number of ‘eyes on the street’, which in turn leads to a decrease in crime and anti-social behaviour. Ensuring that community groups are involved in the project from early in the process also helps with a sense of ownership and pride.
Landscaping isn’t a silver bullet to solve crime problems but can work hand in hand with social strategies if approached in the right way.
Jon Sheaff, Director, Jon Sheaff and Associates
I think that there are all sorts of ways in which through very practical design interventions you can positively impact crime and social behaviour. We recently worked Silkstream project in the London Borough of Barent. This was a park that had been fundamentally neglected – it was derelict and had a huge amount of really poor quality vegetation. Along with this. there were poor sight lines. Silkstream Park became a bit of a no-go zone outside of walking straight through it, just serving as a quick A to B.
Fundamentally, we’ve gone in and swept a load of that stuff away and it looks so much clearer. It’s looking much better with the new play facilities, new footpaths, new bridges, new lighting – new everything. That’s going to help people feel that it’s a space they want to be in and that they can go into safely with their children. It’s difficult to change people’s behaviours. So, we do all of these very practical, immediate things around robustness as well as simplification.
It’s not an immediate ‘quick win’, it’s something that will take time for us to do. If you’re able to make a case for investment, you can make a space that is central to a community. It’s important to help locals adopt these spaces and make them a part of their lives. We have to join commit to recognising the importance of these spaces and what it can do for people.
Jaz Vilkhu, managing director for Landscape Protection at Marshalls
Crash-tested street furniture products are increasingly being used to mitigate against vehicle-borne terror attacks. These measures, from planters and seating to litter bins and bollards, can be integrated seamlessly into a landscape and offer a more aesthetically pleasing solution to the more traditional approach of anti-ram barriers and concrete blocks.
These products can clearly help businesses protect themselves from criminal activity, such as ram-raids on shop fronts and ATM machines, which have become more frequent in recent years. However, this is a different type of threat to a terror attack.
In the majority of situations, developers and retailers will only need security products that mitigate against a vehicle weighing 2.5 tonnes or less travelling at low speeds. It is unlikely that those manufactured to the highest specifications needed to counter a terror attack.
To address this challenge, we’ve engineered a range of street furniture products, crash-tested to the government’s Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 170 regulations. These provide businesses with measures that can stop vehicles of this weight travelling at between 10 and 20mph.
Emily Hook, PSE, Kent Police
Kent Police’s Design for Crime Prevention has 7 Principals of Design to help deter and deflect Criminality and ASB ( anti-social behaviour).
It promotes the use of features to transform spaces to minimise the opportunity for crime, fear of crime, ASB and nuisance. For example, defensive planting: prickly plants and trellis as a simple way to deter and deflect potential trespassers and offenders. Climbing over can result in offenders leaving traces of evidence, which can help identify them. It can also be used against a building to from criminal damage. Suitable native species include Hawthorn, rose and fruit bushes, many are non-toxic, so suitable for use near care homes and schools.
Other examples include using lighting, water features, street furniture, street art, bollards and pavement treatments, all designed to be aesthetically pleasing while helping protect people, buildings and spaces from risk.
There are many standards from vehicle mitigation where there are counter terrorism concerns, ATM protection and protecting privacy. There is also Secured by Design, a police initiative that improves the security of buildings and their immediate surroundings to provide safe places to live, work, shop and visit lists accredited products.
Next month’s agenda question is ‘Are design and build companies the future of landscaping?’ If you’d like to answer it email [email protected]