Monday, 03 November 2008

What have neighbourhoods got to do with designing-out crime? Policy-makers still struggle to consider the local context of changes they would like to see. Here's the Home Office announcing new investment in designing-out crime, bringing industry, the public sector, designers and crime prevention experts and victims together. The programme is expected to come up with design-led ideas and develop 'solutions to a wide range of crime-related problems,' including: Schools – design solutions to reduce problems such as bullying, fighting and petty theft. ‘Hot’ products – innovations to make personal electronics more ‘crime-proof’. Housing - embedding design-led crime reducing approaches in the planning and construction of houses. Alcohol-related crime – to reduce the harm caused by alcohol-related criminal behaviour. Business crime – using design to minimise crimes such as shoplifting. At least there's nothing there about graffiti; but what about neighbourhoods? Does the impact of local environment not impinge on the consciousness of those who set up this initiative? My guess, and it's just a guess, is that initial discussions among officials may have included 'Neighbourhoods' as a heading but it was thought just too difficult, too political, or too inconclusive. A pity, because a new initiative which revisited the tensions between new urbanism and 'designing-out-crime,' while taking account of the new surveillance culture, recent experience of home zones, the Manual for Streets and so on, would have been welcome.

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