NATURAL SURVEILLANCE aims to use environmental design to ensure that the presence and any suspicious behaviour of offenders will be visible and interpretable to others.


Then they can take direct action in avoiding, fending off or challenging them, or summon professional assistance from police or security guards. The ‘natural’ aspect distinguishes this technique from those which use extensive technological interventions such as CCTV or security mirrors, and formal security staff.


Many crimes are committed under cover of darkness so improving street lighting is often seen as a strategy to reduce crime – although the fine details of what kinds of lighting works in what contexts is not systematically known. It may also involve ensuring that lighting itself gives no advantage to offenders eg by creating zones of deep shadow or dazzle. Much has been done to improve light levels and sightlines in multi-storey car parks often by directional painting, rethinking layout using interior mirrors, cameras and side lights.


Communications designs are often commissioned to alert and inform potential victims of risky behaviour (‘beware – pickpockets’), and to empower them to make the right responses. Unfortunately these can sometimes backfire, as with the example of the thieves who loitered beside a pickpocket poster and observed passers-by helpfully patting their wallets.




Zone One andTwo
Hedi Raikamo (Photography by Andrew Watson)


Keeping your bag in-view keeps your valuables safer than they would be when out of sight at your side or on your back. This bag designed by Hedi Raikamo, a tutor at Cordwainers College, gives the user quick and easy access to items such as a wallet, a phone, or a bus pass. But makes it difficult for a thief to dip into the bag without being noticed.