Secured by Design (SBD) is a program that encourages housing developers to design out crime at the planning stage or concept stage. The concepts and standards can also be used to refurbish estates to bring them up to SBD standards. SBD was started by police forces in England to counter growing burglary rates. Housing developments must meet stated standards to be awarded SBD status.
The key principles of SBD concern physical security, surveillance, access/egress, territoriality, and management and maintenance.
Physical security. Standards are set for the physical security of each property and its boundaries. Often, this takes the form of target hardening (e.g., installing better locks or security lighting).
Surveillance. While SBD encourages enhancing natural surveillance (e.g., removing shrubbery or high walls), it tries to balance surveillance with the need for privacy. Informal social control is encouraged through a blend of dwellings that will attract a mix of residents (families, retirees, young couples), which can increase the chance that someone will be at home throughout the day and night.
Access/egress. Entrances/exits to the development are minimized to deter the entry of non-resident, potential offenders.
Territoriality. The purposes and ownership of spaces are clearly defined so that those who do not belong can be more easily identified by residents.
Management and maintenance. Properties are maintained to certain standards (e.g., litter and graffiti are removed), which can help reduce visual disorder.
SBD standards have evolved over time. For example, many changes were introduced in 1999, with the introduction of performance-led requirements. These changes were made to ensure that a consistent level of security was being offered by manufacturers. One other important evolution in SBD has been the move toward influencing the preplanning stages, rather than involvement in the planning or postplanning stages.
Armitage (2004) suggests that Newman’s theory of defensible space and new opportunities theories (such as rational choice theory and routine activity theory) may best underpin the foundations of SBD. Newman’s theory states that people’s latent sense of control over spaces in which they live can be affected by the physical design of the environment. By changing elements in the built environment, social control can be encouraged.
New opportunities theories center on the opportunity to commit a criminal offense rather than on the individual criminal. For instance, rational choice theory posits that the decisions of potential offenders can be shaped by increasing the perceived costs of committing the crime (e.g., the probability of being apprehended and punished) and decreasing perceived benefits of offending (e.g., through property marking).
SBD is managed by the Association of Chief Police Officers Crime Reduction Initiatives. However, Architectural Liaison Officers (ALOs) or Crime Prevention Design Advisors (CPDAs) are the people that work with individual police forces. ALO/CPDAs ensure that developments are designed and built to certain specifications. There are currently more than 300 ALO/CPDAs in England and Wales.