Designing Out Crime – Part 1: A Vital Part of Building Design

Feeling safe and secure in the places we live, work and spend our leisure time is an increasingly vital part of building design. Crime brings a huge cost to individuals and businesses – whether that is costs incurred in anticipation of crime, responding to crime or increased costs as a consequence of crime.

The cost of crime is not just a financial issue. For individuals, being affected by crime can lead to time off work because of injury, as well as the often hidden costs of anxiety, stress and feelings of vulnerability. For businesses, this can lead to a fall in productivity or difficulty retaining or recruiting staff. And, of course, crime is a major cost for local and national authorities in terms of police time, the cost to the NHS and other public services.

Even something that might seem as relatively trivial as bike theft can have significant personal and financial consequences. A report in the Independent (17 July 2019) said that 104,768 bike thefts were reported by local authorities in England and Wales over the preceding twelve month period. The newspaper quoted a survey by Yellow Jersey/British Transport Police saying that the average cost of a stolen bike was £327.55, and two thirds of respondents said the incident affected them both financially and emotionally.

Whether it be bike theft, personal safety or protection of property and equipment, the design of our offices, buildings and the places we visit has an important role to play in preventing and reducing crime.

However, designing out crime is not simply a case of incorporating better locks, doors and windows. For it to be most effective, crime prevention needs to be designed-in at the start of a project. If designers consider the ways in which the built environment might be susceptible to crime early in the design process, they can prevent crime from occurring, or at least reduce the likelihood of it occurring. For this reason, the BREEAM family of sustainability standards incorporates provisions for security with one credit awarded under BREEAM Hea 06, using an evidence-based Security Needs Assessment (SNA) with a further optional exemplary credit for the use of BRE’s dedicated SABRE security standard.

Read Designing Out Crime, Part 2 – BREEAM Security Needs Assessment (SNA)

ADW have provided BREEAM Security Needs Assessments for clients and buildings throughout the UK and beyond. For more information see our BREEAM Hea 06 Security web page or contact us to discuss your needs on enquiries(at)

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