Comparing CPTED and Security Assessments
3 NOVEMBER, 2022 / DAN KELLER
There is often confusion or lack of understanding between Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and Security Assessments, or Security Surveys. While there are multiple benefits of both strategies from a crime prevention standpoint, there is a distinct difference in how and when they should be utilized, and who should be involved.
Not infrequently, there is confusion or lack of understanding between Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and Security Assessments, or Security Surveys.
As coined by Timothy D. Crowe, past Director of the National Crime Prevention Institute (NCPI) at the University of Louisville, the definition of CPTED is “The proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction of the fear and incidence of crime, and an improvement in the quality of life”.
Whereas a Security Assessment is a critical onsite examination and analysis to:
- Identify risks associated with existing security conditions
- Identify security-related vulnerabilities or deficiencies
- Determine protection needed, and
- Make recommendations for improvement
CPTED Strategies include:
- Natural Surveillance
- Natural Access Control
- Activity Support
A Security Assessment focuses upon four (4) components or elements:
- Environmental Security
- Physical Security
- Electronic Security
- Procedural Security
Comparisons and Differences
⇒ While there are multiple benefits of both strategies from a crime prevention standpoint, there is a distinct difference in when they should be utilized.
- The primary benefit of the employment of CPTED strategies is in the design of new capital construction projects, beginning at the programming stage.
- The primary benefit in the conduct of a Security Assessment is in the evaluation of risks, threats and vulnerabilities of existing buildings and facilities and recommendations for the improvement of the same.
⇒ Structural Design
- The effective employment of CPTED strategies should involve certified law enforcement personnel, architects, building stakeholders, planning and zoning, landscape architects, campus facilities management, etc.
- Security Assessments may be conducted by
in-house security professionals, certified law enforcement personnel, or
qualified security consultants.
⇒ Inclusion of CPTED in Security Assessments
- Although evaluation of CPTED strategies (Natural Surveillance, Natural Access Control, Territoriality) should be a component of a comprehensive security assessment, modification of building design features is usually not an emphasis of a security assessment.
⇒ Activity Support
- A key feature in CPTED usually includes an evaluation of “activity support.”. This includes placement, behavior, and activities of persons that either encourages or discourages criminal activity.
- “Activity Support” is usually not a featured
component of a Security Assessment.
⇒ Risk Assessment
- An external and internal risk assessment is
usually a more important component of a comprehensive Security Assessment than
it is in the employment of CPTED strategies.
⇒ Time Involved
- The length of time required to conduct a
Security Assessment of an existing building or facility (hours and days) is
normally less than the length of time (months or years) required in the
employment of CPTED strategies for capital construction projects.
⇒ Procedural Issues
- CPTED primarily focuses upon building and facility physical features not security-related procedural issues.
- A comprehensive security assessment focuses upon
security-related procedural issues such as pre-employment background checks, locking
and unlocking procedures, visitor management and control, employer security
awareness and training, key management and control, access authorization,
workplace violence procedures, etc.
⇒ Local Ordinances
- The employment of CPTED strategies may be influenced by CPTED-related community ordinances, providing statutory standards and regulations.
- With relatively minor exceptions (Davis, CA and
Overland Park, KS), there are rarely community ordinances that significantly
influence the level of building or security physical, electronic, and
** The American Crime Prevention Institute (ACPI) is one of the few organizations that offers both CPTED certification and Security Assessment certification training. Visit our website at acpionline.com to learn about our comprehensive list of both live virtual and self-paced training courses.
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