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Crime Prevention in Town Centres

It is now widely recognised that there is a link between design and crime and that careful attention to the planning of towns and to the design of estates and individual buildings can help reduce crime.

Policy is set out in Circular 5/94 "Planning Out Crime", which states that planning proposals can help reduce crime, particularly if they are considered as part of a strategic approach incorporating a wide range of measures, including, for example, estate or town centre management and CCTV. The Circular accepts that crime prevention is a 'material' planning consideration which can legitimately be taken into account in preparing plans and deciding planning applications.

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The circular suggests that if areas, such as town centres, are occupied after dark, the presence of people produces informal supervision which reduces vandalism and crime. A mix of users, including housing and entertainment will ensure that the area does not become a deserted and therefore potentially threatening environment.

The regeneration of large housing estates should incorporate measures such as diversification of tenure, the creation of smaller community areas, the provision of facilities for the young and proposals to create a more attractive environment, since it has been shown that packages of such measures are successful in reducing crime.

Detailed design measures can help reduce vandalism and crime. Attractive, well cared for environments are less prone to vandalism, but in some cases it is recognised that the need for crime prevention measures will have to be balanced against visual amenity. Thus with landscaping it is important to avoid planting which can screen wrong doers close to footpaths, but the use of spiky bushes can help deter crime. Footpaths should be straight, wide, well lit and well supervised by passers by and overlooking residents. Car parks should be well lit and supervised where possible. Shutters on shops may be necessary but should be attractively designed, for example with open grilles, to avoid 'dead' shopping frontages and graffiti.

Liaison between the developer, the planning authority and the police can ensure that new developments have crime prevention measures built into their design.

It is suggested that the following guidelines be adopted and that they be used in the preparation of development briefs and in the control of development.

It is suggested that the following guidelines be adopted and that they be used in the preparation of development briefs and in the control of development.


  • Crime prevention should be taken into account in the planning of all developments.
  • The Police Architectural Liaison Officer should be consulted about major development proposals.

Town Centres

  • A mix of uses - shop, food and drink and entertainment, and residential should be encouraged within centres to ensure the presence of people throughout day and night, whilst avoiding undue concentrations of uses such as pubs, which could give rise to public order problems.
  • Security shutters, where necessary, should be of an open grille design, integrated into the design of the shopfront and should be painted to match. Special consideration should be given within Conservation Areas. They are not appropriate on Listed Buildings.

Commercial Development

  • Comments on landscaping as above.
  • Security considerations should be integrated into the design process and consideration should be given to building design and security lighting as well as security fencing.
  • Fences should be attractive and robust and chain link fences, concrete post and panel fences should be avoided in prominent locations.

Further detailed information about planning is available together with the  contact numbers for local planning offices.