Headlines: August 16th, 2007

The Home Office has launched a Design and Technology Alliance to take forward its strategy to use better design in the fight against crime. Design experts are joining the Alliance and their role will be to raise the profile within industry of how innovative design can tackle crime. They will work with the Home Office to embed the message that design can have a real impact on cutting crime by making it harder and less attractive for criminals.

Members of the Alliance include Sebastian Conran, of Conran & Partners, John Sorrell, Chairman of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, David Kester, Chief Executive of the Design Council, Professor Jeremy Myerson, Professor of Design Studies at the Royal College of Art and Professor Gloria Laycock, Director of the UCL Centre for Security and Crime Science.

The Alliance will seek to build on the achievements that design has played in driving down crime overall by a third over the past decade. Much of the 51 per cent fall in vehicle crime in particular can be attributed to design improvements such as immobilisers and toughened glass. Cost-benefit analysis has shown that remedial design measures can deliver savings of up to five times the original investment, along with crime reductions of up to 70 per cent. The benefit would be even greater if action were taken at the concept design stage.

Members of the Alliance will champion the message that designing out crime is about sustainable and innovative design of products, spaces and places to make crime unattractive and make communities feel safer.

An example of how design can successfully tackle crime comes from Hulme, an inner city area of Manchester. It was notorious for crime and poorly designed housing, but it has been transformed through regeneration. A small team of landscape architects based in Manchester, was asked to develop an entirely new park. The result is Hulme Park, which demonstrates the value of design in creating a safe, green and communal environment within an area previously notorious for high levels of crime, especially robbery and burglary.