Crime prevention

10 principles of crime prevention

1. Target hardening

This basically refers to making something harder for an offender to access and making it more resistant to approaches made by offenders.  This could be:

  • upgrading the locks on your doors or windows
  • replacing doors or windows if they are particularly weak or the frames are in a poor state of repair
  • fitting sash jammers to doors or windows
  • ensuring that sheds or outbuildings are secure 

2. Target removal

This principle can be cost free in most cases and is all about ensuring that a potential target for an offender is out of view, so as not to attract their attention in the first place.  This could be:

  • not leaving items in an unoccupied vehicle
  • putting your vehicle in the garage if you have one
  • ensuring that you don’t leave attractive items on view through your windows – i.e. laptops, phones, keys, bags
  • not leaving attractive objects such as games consoles, iPads, collectables or antiques on full view in downstairs rooms 

3.  Removing the means to commit crime

As with target removal, this principle can also be relatively cost free and relates to ensuring that items are not accessible to offenders that may help them commit an offence.  This could be:

  • not leaving garden tools out once you have finished with them
  • ensuring that ladders are not left in an accessible position
  • keeping wheelie bins out of reach from an offender, as they may be a climbing aid or used to transport items away from a scene
  • making sure that bricks or rubble are cleared up 

4.  Reducing the pay-off

An offender will want to maximise the amount gained from taking the risk of committing an offence and there are ways to reduce their potential pay-off.  This could be:

  • security marking your property
  • the use of a domestic safe to secure valuable or sentimental items
  • using dummy stock in shop windows
  • ensuring that you don’t leave vehicle keys in an obvious place 

5.  Access control

As the principle suggests, this is simply looking at measures that will control access to a location, a person or an objective.  This could be:

  • locking your doors and windows and removing the keys from the lock once you have done it
  • making sure that car doors are locked and that sunroofs and windows are shut
  • ensuring that fencing, hedges, walls and other boundary treatments are in a good state of repair and provide no unintentional access points
  • putting a security system in place at a commercial site – i.e. entrance/exit barriers, a security guard, ID Card systems 

6.  Surveillance

Offenders obviously do not want to be seen and look for concealment opportunities to assist them commit their crimes.  Improving surveillance around homes, businesses or public places is very important.  This could be:

  • not having an 8ft high hedge in front of your home that simply provides a barrier for an offender to work unseen behind
  • adding CCTV to a commercial site or public place
  • establishing a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme in your street
  • encouraging neighbours or employees to be more alert in their day to day business – i.e. whilst walking the dog or taking their lunch break around places of work 

7.  Environmental change

Offenders like familiarity with an area, they like knowing routes in and out of an area and knowing that they can leave with ease if required.  Environments should also not look like they have been forgotten about and that no one cares.  This could be:

  • working with the police and local authority to close a footpath
  • ensuring that graffiti and domestic/commercial waste is cleared up
  • reporting issues with fly-tipping or broken street lights to the relevant authority
  • organising or taking part in environmental action days 

8.  Rule setting

Changing our habits may require the setting of rules and informing people of rules may require the positioning of signage in appropriate locations.  This could be:

  • introduce a new rule in your home that the last person leaving or entering the property should lock the door and remove the keys
  • informing visitors to commercial sites that they must report to reception on arrival
  • making sure employees wear ID cards at all times
  • informing users that a particular site is closed between certain times and should not be accessed between them 

9.  Increasing the chances of being caught

As previously mentioned, offenders do not want to be seen and they look for concealment points around the site where they are looking to commit an offence.  There are ways that we can increase the chances of an offender being seen.  This could be:

  • making sure that domestic security lighting is in place and in working order
  • the use of good quality CCTV, especially on commercial sites and around public places
  • reducing the height of hedges to the front of properties and making sure overgrown shrubbery doesn’t provide concealment points
  • improving boundary protection or upgrading security to delay an offender, meaning they would have to spend more time in/at a location 

10.  Deflecting offenders

Deterring an offender or deflecting their intentions can be done in a number of ways.  Some approaches will be done in partnership with specific agencies/organisations.  Others can be done around the home.  This could be:

  • the use of timer switches to make our homes look occupied if vacant after the hours of darkness
  • running youth diversionary schemes with partner agencies
  • referring offenders to drug rehabilitation programmes
  • taking every opportunity to implement crime prevention measures around homes and businesses

When you are looking at using the principles of crime prevention to improve security around your home or business, the best way to approach it is to look at your home or premises as if you were the offender. 

Identify the weak spots, vulnerable areas and concealment points and prioritise the areas for improvement.