Situational Crime Prevention (SCP) intervenes in those causes which offenders encounter, or seek out, in the immediate circumstances of the criminal event. Approaches include: Target hardening, Access control, Natural surveillance, Reducing anonymity, Extending guardianship, Utilising place managers, Formal surveillance, Target concealment, Target removal, and Denial of benefits.


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Situational Crime Prevention activities are extremely varied. However, they can be classified into just 25 techniques (1), organised in terms of which of the above factors (risk, effort, reward, provocation, excuses) they primarily tackle. This schema is mainly the work of Professor Ron Clarke operating through the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (2).


The 25 generic SCP techniques provide inventive principles and ideas for designers and anyone else who wants to kick-start thinking about how to design out crime. The point to remember when looking at the examples we illustrate on this site, is to think lateral as well as literal. Lateral thinking often helps problem solving and the generation of new anti-theft design solutions.


The 10 techniques above, reinterpreted from Ron Clarke’s original categories, aim to offer open-source information about situational crime prevention from a design point of view, that is relevant to bag theft from interior environments and public spaces. The remaining techniques are less relevant to DAC approaches, relating for example to purely human guardianship or focusing on the offender, such as diverting them away from the crime scene. They may nevertheless be worth a look (at popcenter.org) as a general source of stimulation.


We are aware that some of the solutions we show to illustrate these techniques are far from ideal design benchmarks. For example, they may not conform to the idea that ‘secure design should not look criminal’ or satisfy our passionate requirement that crime resistant design should be smart, in-built and beautiful. Nevertheless they are included here because we feel going back to basics may provoke a new, ‘designerly’, response or at least encourage wonky thinking. We hope some of these techniques fire up and focus designers’ creative processes when thinking about how to reduce crime or generate new product development for secure design.


(1) Cornish, D. and Clarke, R. V. (2003) Opportunities, Precipitators and Criminal Decisions: A Reply to Wortley’s Critique of Situational Crime Prevention. In: M. Smith and D.B. Cornish (eds.) Theory for Situational Crime Prevention. Crime Prevention Studies, Vol. 16. Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press.

(2) Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (2008) Home Page [online]. www.popcenter.org