What is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Management (PCAM)? The official definition of the book is "the proper design and effective use of the built environment that can lead to a reduction of fear and the incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life". It is simply an objective to reduce the potential for criminality inherent in structural design or neighborhood design. In other words, make your home or neighborhood unattractive to burglars and thugs.
Canada's cities and counties enact PCAM orders requiring site plan reviews with crime prevention in mind. Law enforcement officers who are specially trained in PCAM now work closely with planners, architects, municipal officials and educators to ensure the proper design of structures, schools and neighborhoods. These experts know how the design and use of the environment can control human or criminal behavior and reduce the fear of crime. They used natural means such as landscaping to deter criminals. Access control, natural surveillance, different aspects of lighting and its effects on human behavior all deter crime.
Homeowners and businesses rarely think about crime prevention when they hire a landscaper. Landscapers play the traditional role of mowing lawns, building flower beds, building retaining walls, sowing grass seeds, and so on. However, one would be careless if they have not done some homework and are looking for a landscaper who incorporates CPTED into their layout and landscape design. Each of the following PCAM strategies is low-cost guidelines that they apply to reduce fear and the incidence of crime and improve the quality of life.
1. Natural Access Control guides people entering and leaving a space through the placement of entrances, exits, fences, landscaping and lighting. Access control can reduce opportunities for criminal activity by preventing criminals from gaining access to potential targets and by creating a perception of risk for potential offenders. Pedestrian walkways and landscaping should direct visitors to the appropriate entrance and away from private areas. The design should create a perception of risk for potential offenders. The walkways should be installed in safe places for pedestrians and not conceal them.
2. Natural monitoring is the placement of physical features, activities and people in a way that maximizes visibility. A potential criminal is less likely to attempt a crime if he runs the risk of being observed. At the same time, we are likely to feel safer when we can see and be seen. The landscaping must be selected and installed to allow an unobstructed view of the doors and windows. The entrance door must be at least partially visible from the street. Shrubs and shrubs near windows should not restrict the full visibility of the property. Sidewalks and all areas of the yard should be well lit.
3. Territorial reinforcement is the use of physical attributes that express the property such as fencing, signage, landscaping, lighting, pavements, and so on. The defined lines of ownership and the clear distinctions between private and public spaces are examples of the application of territoriality. Porches or front stoops should create a transition zone between the street and the house. Property lines and private areas must be defined with plants, gaps or retaining walls. Use thorny plants along the fence lines and under the windows to prevent the intrusion of intruders.
4. Maintenance is a well maintained home, building or community and creates a sense of belonging. A well maintained area tends to give the impression to neighbors or business owners to be observed because it is obvious that people care about the area. Keep trees and shrubs away from windows, doors, and walkways. Keep the shrubs trimmed to 3 feet and prune the lower branches of the trees up to 7 feet. Use the outside lighting at night and keep it in working order. Keep litter and garbage picked up and the yard clean and free of items that might attract theft.
Next time you are looking to hire a landscaper, do not hesitate to ask what he knows about crime prevention when it comes to landscaping. You may be surprised to find that your landscaper is just a simple trimmer.