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Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a concept based on the belief that crime can be influenced by the proper design and effective use of the manmade environment. Simply put, the way that campuses and buildings are designed and built can have a big effect on the amount of crime perpetrated in these places. Through the proper use of CPTED principals, facilities can be made safer and less prone to crime.


CPTED is made up of three basic strategies:


  • Natural surveillance - design of facilities so that criminal or improper activity can be naturally observed by employees, tenants, and other stakeholders.

  • Natural access control - design of facilities so that the flow of movement is controlled naturally by site and building features.

  • Territorial reinforcement - design of facilities so that a sense of "ownership" is created, making legitimate users feel welcome, and discouraging illegitimate users.


CPTED principals have an impact on almost every aspect of construction, including site and building layout, landscaping, fencing, and wall construction, just to name a few. CPTED can even influence the colors used to paint walls and ceilings or the types of floor materials used. One exciting thing is that it doesn't have to cost extra money to implement CPTED principals; in fact, effectively using CPTED can often reduce the total cost of construction as well as reduce ongoing operating costs.


Silva Consultants uses CPTED principals as an integral part of our security consulting process. During security planning, we provide guidance to architects and owners on the use of CPTED principals during the design process. During security design review, we look at architectural drawings and other documents prior to construction to verify that CPTED principals have been properly incorporated.


During security assessments, Silva Consultants reviews existing facilities to see if there are opportunities to improve security using CPTED concepts. While it is not often practical or cost effective to fully implement CPTED at existing sites, there are often simple improvements that can be made easily and inexpensively that can provide increased security using CPTED principals.


For further information on CPTED, we suggest the following two books:


"Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design" by Timothy Crowe. Butterworth-Heinemann Publishers, 2000.

"21st Century Security and CPTED" by Randall I. Atlas. Second Edition. CRC Press, 2013.

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