The National Police Strategic Command Course run by the College of Policing has featured a module on 'designing out crime' for the first time and included a presentation from Professor Rachel Armitage, Director of the University’s Secure Societies Institute at the University of Huddersfield.
Professor Armitage was one of the first speakers at the start of the important three-month course for police officers and police staff who will go on to be promoted into the most senior posts in police forces around the country.
The inclusion of the designing out crime module had been arranged by the course deputy directors Helen Ball and Jo Noakes and the national police crime prevention initiative Secured by Design (SBD).
SBD seeks to reduce crime by using proven crime prevention design techniques such as natural surveillance, landscaping and lighting, as well as encouraging manufacturers of products such as doors and windows to meet Police Preferred Specification, which has more stringent requirements than the physical security standards required by the Building Regulations.
Professor Rachel Armitage co-presented the one-and-a-half hour long designing out crime session with SBD Development Officer Michael Brooke. Professor Armitage told delegates that her independent academic research had found that SBD's design principles and product security standards had achieved significant and sustained reductions in crime on SBD sites compared to non-SBD sites.
"We made the course as lively and as engaging as possible," said Professor Armitage, who is a criminologist who has been working in the field of designing out crime for almost 20 years and has published extensively in the field.
"Research conducted at the University of Huddersfield shows that in West Yorkshire the average property experiences almost four times as many burglaries as a property designed to the features of designing out crime," said Professor Armitage.
Building in extra security at the design stage typically costs around £170 for a three-bed dwelling – a relatively low cost deterrent to criminality.
SBD Development Officer Michael Brooke told delegates that there was a national network of around 125 Designing Out Crime Officers based in police forces around the country to work with architects, developers and local authority planners to design out crime.
He said partnership working was vital to the prevention of crime – a point that he told delegates had been recognised by the Home Office in their Modern Crime Prevention Strategy (published in March 2016) which states that where Government, law enforcement, businesses and the public work together on crime prevention, significant and sustained cuts in certain crimes can be achieved.
The Strategy specifically refers to SBD, stating that: "We are working with the police to maintain the Secured by Design brand, which is an important source of advice on how design of, for example, housing estates or shopping precincts, can prevent crime and anti-social behaviour."
SBD Chief Executive Officer, Guy Ferguson, said: "Michael Brooke and Professor Armitage were well received and generated some excellent questions and contributions from the audience. It will have focused the delegates about how they can positively apply their learning in practical situations when they become senior leaders of UK police forces."
Their presentation was part of a day-long focus on crime prevention and followed other key speakers, including Stephen Watson, the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, who is also the National Police Chiefs' Council crime prevention lead, and Mike Barton, the Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary.
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