A replacement for Secured By Design should encourage a sense of community not just crime reduction
While some parts of the document are a useful aide-mémoire, I will not be sad to see the back of Secured By Design (SBD) (Criminal responsibility, 12 April), and I hope that it is replaced by better awareness of how good urban design can be used to minimise the risk of crime, and improve the feeling of safety within a community.
Unfortunately, in many quarters SBD is seen as “the rules that must be obeyed”, which means permeable neighbourhoods are a no-no (multiple escape routes), street trees are removed (they block the CCTV) and the opportunity for visual interest in landscape is replaced by “thorny plants” everywhere.
One scheme I was involved in that tried to encourage a sense of community through a shared public space “had to be gated” in order to prevent the risk of anti-social behaviour.
Except all it did was to stop the residents from enjoying it after dusk (when gates got locked), and the antisocial activity was made worse as those involved in perpetrating it just climbed the fences, and knew they could get up to all sorts and would not be disturbed.
For real progress to be made we need to ensure that we invest in a high-quality built environment that supports communities in trying to address the root causes of crime - poverty, drugs, etc - and not simply create unwelcoming and closed places in an attempt to make crime a bit harder.