Spotting Environmental Design Flaws: Do Your Public Parks Facilitate Crime?

Well designed public spaces in your park can attract hikers, joggers, sports enthusiasts, and nature lovers. But the risk of vandals or predatory offenders lurking in darkness, in hidden spaces within the park poses significant problems. It can threaten the safety or sense of safety that park users enjoy.

By taking a proactive approach and auditing your park using CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles, you determine the factors that increase the likelihood of nuisance crime, vandalism, and disorder. An audit is a good way to identify what features of the park need to be changed and what needs protecting.

Consider the following environmental keys for safety:

  • Maintain adequate lighting in areas of parks where nighttime activity is intended
  • Provide no lighting where activity is not intended or appropriate
  • Make sure lighting is free from interference by landscaping detail, overgrowth or lack of maintenance
  • Lighting should be clear and bright enough for someone to get a good look at another person 12 or 15 feet away
  • Nighttime activities appropriate to the park’s facilities should be clustered together and properly lit
  • Use shallow or high branching vegetation to skirt along paths, rather than full-bodied bushes or trees that can conceal an offender
  • Allow the play area to be visible from street view
  • Provide options for entry and exit at different spots throughout the park, including fenced play areas
  • Post the hours and closing time of the park, so it is clearly visible at the entries

By taking specific action toward vandalism deterrence and crime prevention, you remove the ease of operation for theft, graffiti and vandalism to take place. This also decreases the probability of other crimes of opportunity.