The Government has reminded Local Authorities to seek planning guidance from the Police Service to help keep local communities safe and secure from crime – a move welcomed by Secured by Design (SBD), the national police crime prevention initiative.
A letter dated 12 July from Steve Quartermain, Chief Planning Officer for England, stated that the planning system has an important role to ensure measures are in place to deal with counter-terrorist and crime prevention security in order to create safe and accessible communities.
Involving other parties like Police at the pre-application stage can help ensure high quality schemes that ‘best deliver all parties priorities’.
The Chief Planning Officer highlighted guidance from the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Planning Practice Guidance (PPG).
Referring to the NPPF, the letter recommended that local planning authority policies and decisions seek to ‘create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion’.
The letter provided a reference to a section in the PPG entitled ‘Planning should address crime prevention’ which states that designing out crime and designing in community safety should be central to the planning and delivery of new development. It suggests local authorities may wish to consider how they ‘work effectively’ with Police on planning applications and planning matters.
It advises: “Crime should not be seen as a stand-alone issue, to be addressed separately from other design considerations. It is important that crime reduction-based planning measures are based upon a clear understanding of the local situation, avoiding making assumptions about the problems and their causes.
“Consideration also needs to be given to how planning policies relate to wider policies on crime reduction, crime prevention and sustainable communities. This means working closely with Police to analyse and share relevant information and good practice.”
Specifically referring to the terrorism threat, the Chief Planning Officer’s letter advises that when drawing up their Local Plans, local authorities should work with local advisors and others to ensure that they have taken into account the most up-to-date information about higher risk sites in their area for malicious threats and natural hazards, including steps that can be taken to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience.
It states: “Pre-application discussions between planning officers and security advisors, such as Counter Terrorism Security Advisors and Police Crime Prevention Design Advisors, will ensure authorities and applicants share an understanding, right at the beginning of the decision process, of the level of risk and the sort of measures available to mitigate the risk in a proportionate and well-designed manner.”
The letter is the latest in a series of letters from the Department for Communities and Local Government to Local Authority Chief Planning Officers in England providing guidance about various aspects of the planning system.
SBD Chief Operating Officer Jon Cole said there were more than 200 SBD trained Police Officers and staff known principally as Designing Out Crime Officers working within all 39 Police Forces in England who work with local authority planners, architects and developers at the drawing board stage to ‘design out crime’ in many development sectors including housing, commercial, retail, mixed-use, transport, health, education, leisure and others.
Independent academic research shows that where SBD crime prevention techniques have been incorporated in the built environment, such as layout and landscaping, and SBD accredited products like doors and windows into the physical security of buildings, crimes like burglary can be reduced by up to 75% in new build developments and by up to 63% in refurbishments. Evidence suggests these figures are sustainable year-on-year. Significant gains have also been noted in tenant satisfaction and lower maintenance costs in the social housing sector.
Jon said: “I welcome the Chief Planning Officer’s letter as an endorsement of how Secured by Design is continuing to take a lead on behalf of the Police Service to work in partnership with other organisations like local authorities to enable people to live in a safer society.
“Our work is proven to reduce crime and saves time and money by avoiding abortive and unnecessary work once construction has begun, which can lead to a deterioration of the street scene through the erection of protective measures after criminal activity has occurred. It has also been shown to reduce the financial and resource burden on Police and local authorities who have to pick up the pieces from crime and anti-social behaviour. Having Police accredited products in buildings means that they are robust, last longer and require less maintenance – providing further savings and freeing up budgets for other priorities,” he said.
The Chief Planning Officer’s letter can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/627395/Chief_Planner_letter_-_security_and_planning.pdf
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