This Acronym is how the Design Council believe us designers should approach crime.
Clarify problem and tasks
Over the last decade, the problem of crime has been
substantially clarified, with recognition that much
behaviour is shaped by situation rather than disposition,
and that a blame-oriented approach to crime reduction
will prove an expensive failure. We now see crime
as an arms race, and with that comes recognition
of the importance of the design of products and systems
in driving down crime. The task of crime reduction
therefore lies substantially in manipulating products
and systems in a timely way.
If our view of crime is soundly based, which institutions
can help? Central government is relevant, by its own
purchasing power and its control of benefits and taxation
systems to shape the purchasing power of citizens in
Perhaps the most pressing challenge is to make the
institutions located aware of the range of possibilities.
We are fortunate in having a model for this in the recent
advance of green issues up the political and business
agenda. In just a decade, environmental factors have
become part and parcel of the design of products and
services. We are now on the threshold of the crimereductive
equivalent of eco-design.
This process of awareness-raising could soon see
environmental impact analyses supplemented by crime
impact analyses. Environmental impact analyses set out
incidental consequences not generated by malice; crime
impact statements add effects of innovation driven by
malice. The Thatcham Centre already routinely attack-tests
new cars for the insurance industry. Police architectural
liaison officers advise on building design before any
construction occurs. Individual technology companies carry
out attack-testing on products but the results are
confidential. One change of great importance would be
for the Home Office, through its Crime Reduction College
at Easingwold, to re-jig police data collection procedures
so that they do not concentrate on events within
a particular legal category, but on a particular kind of
emerging problem (such as the loss of air-bags from cars).
Motivate, Empower and Direct
In general, we are left with the level and profile of crime
that our physical and social arrangements dictate. To make
crime reduction happen, the key is to make people want to
make it happen. I opened by remembering the reaction of
the SMMT to the idea that they should be involved in
crime reduction. Now vehicle theft is reducing year on
year, and the target of a 30% reduction by 2004 looks more
realistic than it did when it was set. What happened is
instructive. The Home Office commissioned a feasibility
study on the optimistically labelled ‘crime-free car’. Later,
it began preparing its Car Theft Index, making the public
aware of which makes and models were most likely to be
stolen. The then Home Secretary Kenneth Baker called in
motor manufacturers and told them to improve security.
New models became subject to attack-testing at Thatcham
and the results informed insurance grouping for the model.
There were thus incentives for security improvements in
both brand image and attractiveness to consumers.
Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 provides at
least one means by which local authorities are required to
anticipate crime consequences, since such anticipation is
necessary to protect authorities from legal actions brought
by citizens who have suffered from a ‘foreseeable crime’.
S17 may turn out to be the crucial step in breaking the
innovation – crime cycle.