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Ideas for Action: Public Safety


Neighborhoods that provide residents with a sense of place and a communal identity foster pride and cohesion and contribute to reduced rates of crime by increasing the number of “eyes on the street.”61  Fear of crime strongly influences one’s sense of community.62  Urban design features that increase neighborhood walkability and the mix of land uses contribute to a safer community by encouraging residents to be active in their neighborhood.63

Many of these principles and practices have been organized into the framework of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). The key elements of this framework are summarized below.64

Natural Surveillance

Spaces should be designed to engage neighborhoods in street activity. Maximize sightlines and visibility to encourage patrons to observe the spaces around them, fostering natural surveillance.

Natural Access Control

Control access to spaces by defining entrances and exits using signage, lighting or landscaping. When supported by natural surveillance, defined access routes make it easier to identify intruders.

Natural Territorial Reinforcement

Design environments to delineate private space. Use fences, pavement, lighting and landscaping to demarcate private and public spaces, cultivating a sense of ownership among residents and producing an environment that makes it easier to identify intruders.


Neglected or poorly maintained spaces encourage criminal activity and discourage surveillance, access control and natural territorial reinforcement. Ignoring the need for repairs in one building can lead to broader problems as residents’ sense of pride and territoriality diminishes.

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