Preventing the Predictable: 21st Century Crime Prevention

Crime prevention
Keyford Heights, Frome, Somerset

Secured by Design, the police-led initiative to ‘design out’ crime at the planning stage, highlights its focus on accommodation for older people

Secured by Design (SBD), the national police crime prevention initiative, works closely with the Police Service around the UK to ‘design out’ crime at the planning stage. We are recognised as working in a wide range of sectors including housing, commercial, retail, mixed use, transport, health, education, sport and leisure, and many others.

So it may come as a surprise to learn that since launching in 1989, SBD has been involved in advising on security for accommodation for older people, who are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

Our work to provide secure accommodation for older people

Our advice has encompassed a wide range of accommodation in this specialist sector, ranging from residential care and retirement homes through to property solutions and schemes that provide a varying degree of care and support catering for many different individual needs.

Most recently, we have been advising on Extra Care Housing for frailer, older people, who are less able to do everything for themselves.

Developments for older people could include apartment blocks, bungalow estates and retirement villages. Tenure could be rent, ownership or part rent/ownership.

The options cater for older people who want to retain their independence behind their own front doors in their own self-contained homes with a legal right to occupy the property, while enjoying the peace of mind that support is provided and available when required.

Most schemes have an emergency alarm system. Some may have a scheme manager or warden but not necessarily based at the accommodation, while other schemes will have care workers available on site.

How SBD works

SBD-trained police officers and staff, known principally as Designing Out Crime Officers, liaise with architects, developers and local authority planning officers on new build developments at the outset to incorporate proven crime prevention techniques.

These measures encompass layout and landscaping, such as to increase surveillance and limit through movement, to make criminals feel uncomfortable with a greater likelihood of them being seen and challenged.

We also work to increase the physical security of the buildings by encouraging the use of a wide range of security products that meet our Police Preferred Specification standards. For example, our accredited doors, windows and locks, which are sufficiently robust to resist physical attack from casual or opportunistic burglars.

Our accreditation requires products to be certified by an independent third-party UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) certification authority, which involves manufacturers undertaking regular production audits and re-testing to ensure quality is maintained and is current to the present day – compared to products that may have been tested only once many years previously.

Using our accredited products ensures Building Regulation compliance for security and SBD is the only police organisation in the country to accredit security-related products.

Our crime prevention measures

Typical crime prevention measures incorporated in accommodation for older people could include:

The building

  • Secure entry doors and accessible windows, including windows to apartment balconies.
  • Main access control systems.
  • Video entry system for residents’ guests.
  • Proximity key card locks to the residential aspects of the development and to each apartment.
  • Spyholes on flat entrance doors.

The grounds

  • Perimeter access controls and restrictions, such as to car parks.
  • Strategic use of CCTV.
  • Landscaping, and tree and planting, to ensure natural surveillance and secure boundaries.
  • Lighting across the development, such as pole lighting at the front, bollard lighting at the rear or in the garden, and wall lighting to both front and rear of the property.
  • Fencing and gating, such as a minimum of 1.8m high metal railings to secure the perimeter with matching powered access gates.
  • The removal of climbing points/recesses.
  • Covered cycle stands in visible locations.

Upton Village, Northampton

We advised on security at an Extra Care Village built as part of a larger development of 1,020 private homes and affordable housing and up to 700 sq m of retail units at Upton, to the south west of Northampton.

Upton is a partnership between Northampton Borough Council, English Partnerships and the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, which promotes best practice in sustainable urban growth to ensure strict environmental and building design standards.

Developed by a number of different developers over the years, it is modelled on Poundbury, an urban extension to Dorchester, which was built from 1993 on the principles of architecture and urban planning as advocated by the Prince of Wales in a Vision of Britain.

The care home achieved full SBD security compliance in 2017, marking the climax of our long association with the whole development, which began prior to outline planning permission in 1997.

Keyford Heights, Frome, Somerset

A development of 36 flats for elderly care was included in the regeneration of 135 homes at Singers Knoll and Randolph Road, Frome.

The former estate had a reputation for crime and unemployment. SBD-trained Designing Out Crime Officers advised on the entire development after being involved in discussions with tenants prior to any regeneration so we could better understand the local issues and concerns.

The development received an SBD award for security when completed in 2012. Since then, police have received no reports of crime at the care home.

Steve Nickerson, Designing Out Crime Officer, Somerset East, commented: “Meetings were held locally to establish what the residents wanted. I was able to promote security by using SBD techniques and was able to advise residents regarding the initiative. Today, the estate still looks as good as when it was first built.”

Longbridge, Birmingham

One of the most recent retirement care developments to benefit from SBD crime prevention techniques is Longbridge Village, which is located on part of the former iconic MG Rover car production site at Austin Avenue, Longbridge, Birmingham.

It is one of five similar developments in this city to have achieved SBD status – the result of a partnership between Birmingham City Council and the ExtraCare Charitable Trust, a registered charity, which was founded in 1988 and provides older people with supported independent living.

The £48m Longbridge Village opened in July 2017 as part of a £1bn regeneration of the area, which includes new homes and amenities. Set on five acres, Longbridge Village provides 260, one- and two-bed apartments for purchase, shared ownership or rent. Its facilities include a village hall, bar, bistro, gym, IT suite and hair and beauty salon and these can be accessed by residents, their families and residents from the local community.

Bangor and Bala, North Wales

SBD advised on 42 self-contained one- and two-bed apartments for people aged over 55 with housing and care needs in Cae Garnedd, Bangor, North Wales. It was North Wales Housing’s third Extra Care scheme and first in partnership with Gwynedd Council. It provides independent and secure living backed up by care and support when required. It includes a number of private lounges, a dining room/restaurant and outside patio area.

We were involved too with a development at Cysgod y Coleg, Bala, where one- and two-bed flats were designed specifically for older or disabled people who enjoy independent living. Its social landlord is Cartrefi Cymunedol, the largest housing association in North Wales. Registered and regulated by the Welsh Government, over the last six years they have invested £137m in their 6,300 properties, including 400 sheltered units that they manage and maintain across Gywnedd to achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.

Three developments in Hull

Riverside, a major provider of social housing, has been working with Hull City Council and Wates Living Space to build 316, one- and two-bed care apartments across three sites in Hull. Funded by the Department of Health, they help meet the care needs of people with disabilities, mental health and dementia, as well as older people. They have been designed to balance independent living with the availability of care support when required to meet changing needs over time. Communal facilities include a restaurant, hair salon and gardens.

All incorporating SBD crime prevention techniques, the developments are as follows: 65 apartments at Harrison Park, Hall Road, Orchard Park, North Hull; 156 at Redwood Glades, Leads Road, East Hull; and 95 at Cecil Gardens, Hawthorn Avenue, West Hull. Total cost is £80m.

Reducing crime and maintenance

Independent academic research shows that SBD developments that include our crime prevention techniques in the built environment and SBD-accredited products in buildings can reduce crimes like burglary by up to 75% in new build homes. Evidence suggests that this figure is sustainable year-on-year and represents a significant reduction, especially as most SBD developments are in social housing, mainly in deprived areas.

In addition, because our accredited products are of high quality and last longer, they require less maintenance, repair and replacement over time – a huge benefit to housing providers and managers.

Please note: this is a commercial profile

Secured by Design

Our aim is to achieve sustainable reductions in crime through design and other approaches.

Tel: 0203 8623 999



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