Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, (CPTED…pronounced "sep-ted"), is a crime prevention strategy that is based on the principle that proper design and effective use of buildings and public spaces in neighborhoods can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime, and an improvement in the quality of life for citizens. CPTED is a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior, relying on strategies that have the ability to influence offender decisions that precede criminal acts. Research shows that certainty of being caught is the main deterrence for criminals, not the severity of punishment, so by raising the certainty of being captured, criminal actions will decrease.


Three interrelated core principles, as well as two supporting principles, make up the CPTED concepts and strategies. Read about CPTED Principles (PDF).

  • Natural Surveillance: the placement of physical features, activities, and people to maximize visibility.
  • Natural Access Management: the placement of walkways, fences, landscaping, and lighting to guide visitors to the entrance or exit of a specific area.
  • Territorial Reinforcement: designing the layout of an area to distinguish public from private spaces and express ownership.
  • Maintenance: proper upkeep of landscaping, lighting, and other features that allows for the continued use of space for its intended purpose.
  • Activity Support: includes both passive and active efforts to promote the presence of responsible pedestrian users in a given area, thus increasing legitimate use and discouraging criminal acts in an area.

In a nutshell, Natural Surveillance and Access Management limit the opportunity for crime. Territorial Reinforcement promotes social control through a variety of ownership strategies. Maintenance and Activity Support provides the community with reassurance and the ability to prevent crime on their own.

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