Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Definition: Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a multi-disciplinary approach for reducing crime through urban and environmental design. It uses various tools to evaluate environmental conditions and utilize intervention methods to control human/ criminal behavior and reduce the fear of crime.

CPTED is pronounced ‘sep-ted’ and it is known around the world as “Designing Out Crime”, “defensible space”, and other similar terms.

Goal: to reduce opportunities for crime that may be inherent in the design of structures or in the design of neighborhoods.

Strategies: CPTED strategies aim to reduce victimization, deter offender decisions that precede criminal acts, and build a sense of community among inhabitants.

With C. Ray Jeffery’s work in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, we now have a way to verbalize the application of the four CPTED strategies:

Natural Surveillance: Design of a built in environment that allows for bidirectional visibility. 


Results: A potential offender should feel like they are being watched

Natural Access Control: Design of a built environment that obstructs or guides people and vehicles in and around property. 


Results:  A criminal should never feel like they have the upper hand nor that they have easy hiding places

Territoriality/Maintenance: Design of the built environment that clearly shows ownership of an area. Maintenance - the long term upkeep and repair of buildings and surrounding property.


Results: A well maintained area sends the message that someone cares and will less likely attract crime.

Benefits of using CPTED:

  1. Safety and Security foster healthy communities
  2. Safe design enhances the quality of the environment
  3. Integrating safety mechanisms saves money
  4. Integrated planning makes a significant contribution to decreasing crime

How is HBPD using CPTED?

By using CPTED, we have created a platform to build on good design and positive social interaction. Training, understanding the strategies, social awareness, and inclusiveness is all part of a CPTED program. CPTED is an approach to reduce crime that can be applied to businesses, mixed use building, commercial, residential, etc. Our department works with the Huntington Beach Planning Department to review site plans in the early stages of the planning process. This allows HBPD to take a proactive approach to discourage future crime incidents in our city. As a result, this helps property owners save money and it allows first responders to concentrate their energy on larger crime incidents.

More information on CPTED:

Designing out Crime from Evidence to Action by Paul Cozens

Jane Jacob’s book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” and her use of the phrase “Eyes on the Street” is all about recognizing your neighbor and including design strategies that create opportunities for social interaction.

Did you know?

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City of Huntington Beach
Police Department
2000 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA
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(714) 960-8825
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(714) 960-8811
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