10 ways social housing can tackle crime by design

  • Managing crime and disruption is essential to help protect communities and enhance tenants’ quality of life
  • Registered providers of Social Housing (RPs) can help reduce crime levels in their areas through appropriate design
  • We explore 10 ways in which RPs can design against crime and disruption to create positive and sustainable living environments

The design and security of housing can help reduce crime rates. Good security measures and procedures can help prevent break-ins, acts of vandalism and arson within housing units.

Incorporating design from the outset can not only help foster a sense of community and responsibility amongst social housing residents, but can also reap real financial rewards, with initial costs likely to be offset by the longer-term financial savings that arise from crime-prevention.

To help reduce crime and disruption it is important for RPs to have a good understanding of how to successfully design against these key issues.

Designing against crime and disruption

In December we held a workshop for RPs of Social Housing in conjunction with Design Against Crime to discuss and consider top ways to tackle crime in order to create a safe community for your tenants and the general public.

Here are our 10 top tips:

  1. Data to drive design – It is important to analyse crime events, claim trends, the area’s social composition and repair logs, in order to understand key areas of disruption and plan initial design around combating any potential areas of concern.
  2. Community buy-in – This is crucial for effective crime prevention. RPs should ensure that they foster a sense of ownership and pride amongst communities in their housing development, to discourage would-be criminals and deliver social control in appropriate ways.
  3. Ownership – All organisations and companies involved in the supply of fittings and services to social housing should agree where their responsibilities lie from the offset. They should not only assemble all of the relevant information on crime and disorder problems, but also ensure the development and implementation of solutions.
  4. Education – Clear guidance and training of all staff members should be undertaken to ensure effective crime prevention measures are carried out, and ensure that all are focused on the security of the area.
  5. 360°risk management – RPs should endeavour to embed crime prevention and security into the wider formal and informal processes of risk assessment, financial planning, business cases and decision-making.
  6. Inspection – Security measures should be built into inspection regimes. In turn, the inspectors who undertake them should be equipped with the requisite skills.
  7. Ongoing evaluations – Post-installation or post-occupancy evaluation should be routinely undertaken to support adjustments to the original building. This will generate knowledge useful to the wider social housing community and ensure that security continues to remain effective.
  8. Refurbishment – Understanding and implementing security measures during refurbishment and remedial redesign will help reduce crime rates.
  9. Technology – Strategic reviews of technological advances in CCTV and broader security equipment should be undertaken to ensure that the most effective surveillance is being utilised. Whilst technology replacements may be expensive, decision-makers should take into account the relevant return on investment if the amount of crime is reduced as a result.
  10. Test and Learn – Any process implemented to reduce crime or disruption should be undertaken repeatedly – staged trials will allow for feedback and improvement.

Reviewing your strategy is just as important as implementing a strategy according to Professor Paul Ekblom from Design Against Crime: “Having a thorough review process in place will help ensure that appropriate actions are carried out should previous measures prove insufficiently effective or unsustainable.”

Taking these tips into consideration can help tackle issues such as theft or burglary, anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

Working together to combat crime

Housing bodies should endeavour to work with all stakeholders, suppliers and partners from the start, to embed crime prevention and security into the broader risk management strategy, as well as during wider formal and informal processes of financial planning and business decision-making.

Collaborative working will have a more effective impact on tackling crime and disruption. This in turn can help you protect the communities you serve and make them even better places to live.