The objective of this dissertation is to explore what elements of architectural and environmental design within public, mass housing have a positive and negative effect on criminal activity both now and in past times.
It will discuss designing out crime as well as the comparison of a safer Borough in The City of London and a more deprived Borough.
This dissertation has concluded that there are positive and negative aspects to design when considering crime, also that the safety of housing must be installed from initial designs, before construction.
Due to collecting primary research being considered a risk to safety, none was undertaken throughout this dissertation.
I give thanks to all who provided me the opportunity to complete this dissertation and to all of my family and friends for their patience with my absence during this process.
I would like to show gratitude to my tutors, David Butcher, Rev Dr Cherry Sandover and Stephanie Butcher for all of their help, guidance and advice throughout the production of this dissertation.
Finally I would like to thank the late Ronald and Reginald Kray for being the initial inspiration for my ever-blossoming, passionate interest in the criminal world and providing a firm base for this dissertation.
This dissertation examines and discusses the impact and influence that the architectural environment in which society resides has on criminal activity. This dissertation will seek to interrogate to what extent architectural features and some urbanized housing plays a part in how individuals act with acknowledgement of their surroundings, in aim to determine if crime rates could be lowered by subject studious urban housing design. The investigation of a time line dating back to the 1960s, of criminal activity in two boroughs of The City Of London as well as the developing social mass housing alongside will be undertaken to discover whether statistics are heightened by divisional urban deprivation within architectural design.
Throughout, the discussion of each Borough will be undertaken in order to pick apart areas in which have an influence on criminal activity, focusing on the environmental and structural effects of mass housing in these areas. As well as this the exploration of instances in the past in which the design of the environment surrounding made criminal activity unchallenging as well as one case remaining unsolved almost one hundred and thirty years.
An analytic report on the subject of designing out crime will be undertaken to not only discuss what is wrong with the structures and the environments, but to also explore what could be done to prevent crime in the future. An example of a mass housing estate will be elucidated to observe the changes authorities and planners are undertaking in order to prevent the known problem.
A comparison of Boroughs will be studied to withdraw the positives and negatives to environmental and architectural design in these areas to justify what makes a sustainable, safe environment for mixed communities in now and in the future.
Chapter One – Social Housing & High Rise Housing
In the late 1960’s, architects and planners, as well as politicians, encouraged the introduction of high-rise developments, steering away from the common suburban housing sprawl of past years. The supposed modernist approach to housing was influenced by the architects of Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation, with the aim of healthy housing occupied by a mass of residents. It was mainly after the Second World War that tower blocks came into the housing scheme of Great Britain, with design to entice people in with a modernist approach signifying post war progress. They were also built with the growing financial problems, being built on cheap land, often out of cities making it hard to reach everyday infrastructure components such as shops, banks and other everyday places the modern society visit. Also, they were designed and repeated many times to implement and industrialised buildings. Looking into the design of tower blocks from an aesthetic perspective, the concrete was chosen as it was deemed “long lasting” if not “indestructible” without the consideration of how dark and dingy concrete jungles would be whether that be because the production of those were under estimated or whether this was a genuine decision thought to be visually adequate by designers, is unknown. What is known, is that unless one grows up familiar with these tower blocks, they would come across extremely daunting.
Harlow new town was the first area to adapt to the optimistic plans, building the first point block of flats but the most recognised development was that of Alton West and East at Roehampton. The inspiration from Le Corbusier is apparent which influenced Britain to steer towards the use of precast concrete components in the aim to be effective as these. Due to the shortage of land in industrial cities, the authorities encouraged mass housing, as it would lead to the reduction of population loss. As well as this, there was the worry that building manufacturers would not be able to keep up with the financial side of the volume of houses the rising population required with the use of traditional craft-based construction methods. The idea of large scale, industrialised approach seemed positive for the growth of housing in Britain.
Initially, identified as unsuccessful, cluster housing almost made streets turn into corridors which was looked at in a negative light, due to the human reaction to the lack of everyday street necessities, for example, shops, post offices and other general public street normalities. It was argued whether being so enclosed, would have a negative effect on areas, in which was proven correct, illuminating the hope for bringing communities together and offering an identity to each block.
Upon the research of contractor designed housing, the poor construction of the blocks lead to damaged prefabricated panels, leading to leaky joints, causing dampness and ultimately mould occurs, lessening the quality of the residents residing. Furthermore, the lack of security in the area was said to encourage crimes mostly relating to vandalism and theft.
Although the previous extract indicates no rise of the high-rise scheme, the decline was recognised due to the scarce space compared to the mass of residents lead to claims of feeling secluded from the general public. Additionally, quoted “the problems were aggravated by a spiral of social and economic decline” caused by common unemployment due to the crumble of traditional heavy industry in the late 70’s. Britain rejected this approach to an extent in which no other country has before.
Due to how unpopular the high-rise developments have been in recent years, the urgency for change in design and tackling the disadvantages became crucial. The 1969 Housing Act created some great opportunities for modernised mass housing, eliminating Victorian slums, as well as the opportunity to modernise and repair pre-1919 council houses to an adequate, liveable standard. This happened in some areas and was deemed a success, but council housing still maintained the negative image and continued to attract criminal behaviour and vandalism. It was found that residents were generally happier in street related housing due to the security of natural surveillance and open public areas.
Social Housing Now
It is important to recognise, quoted “the successes came from care for quality whilst the failures resulted from a gulf between design, management and use”. With the population rising and steady economic growth within the last decade, social housing is not continuing being built, but those that still stand are still riddled with criminal activity in which will be elaborated further in the evidence that will be provided within this documentation.
Upon exploring the decent homes standard, the information was recovered that it is “a technical standard for public housing”, initially launched by the United Kingdom government, in aim to narrow the gap between the deprived neighbourhoods of the country and the rest of the country. This includes the certainty that the location in which public housing is built is that of a continuing popular and desirable location to prevent the risk of abandonment and dereliction. In addition, it is the recognition of whether the public housing in question is worthy of refurbishment or whether demolition is a more plausible, appropriate decision. Furthermore, the cogitation of in which the design of the public housing in that would appeal to mixed sustainable communities, both contemporarily and for the future ahead.
The supposed solutions from decent homes standard are as follows, quoted:
• “be an integral component of its area’s broader Sustainable Communities Strategy;”
• “have identified sources of funding;”
• “ build on the work that local authorities with tenants have already done in deciding the most appropriate delivery route for meeting decent homes;”
• “engage residents and establish representative, accountable governance systems to ensure inclusive, active and effective participation by individuals, organisations and service delivery agents;”
• “challenge developers and other organisations to deliver high quality, tenure-blind designs that will attract residents with choice;”
• “ensure physical regeneration leads to attractive well-planned and good quality environments by understanding the local context (using tools such as design coding etc.);” and
• “ensure local plans highlight the links between physical, social and economic regeneration so local housing needs are understood within the wider community context.”
Chapter Two – The London Borough of Southwark
One of London’s most historic boroughs, The London Borough of Southwark began as the Southern bridge foot for the Roman bridge over the Thames Estuary to what was then named Londinium, The City Centre of London. The Borough of Southwark was established in 1965 through the intermixture of The Metropolitan Boroughs of Southwark, Bermondsey and Camberwell, of which their community encompasses The Districts of Dulwich, Peckham and Nunhead.
At early, Southwark, Bermondsey and Rotherhithe served many components for The City of London, which other cities restrained from admitting due to degradation, inclusive of shadowed entertainment housing not only public theatres and even its own Red Light District. As well as this frowned upon chain of businesses; Southwark was also quarters of The Marshalsea, The Clink and The King’s Bench Prisons contributing to the boroughs notable reputation for criminal activity and pockets of deprivation. Peckham specifically as industry and the creation of leather took place around Bermondsey.
The London Borough of Southwark is the 9th most densely populated Borough, it has a current population of 306,745. The demographic statistics of the sex of the London Borough of Southwark is, even with roughly 50.2% women in the Borough leaving the other 49.8% men. The marriage rate within the area is at a low rate, with only 28.5% married and an astonishing 54.7% single, this makes family rates lower and even more chance off young adults ending up on the streets in gangs or at least falling into that route. It is noted that the population is mainly between 20 to 39 years old at 42%. Meaning that there is a substantial amount of youths at the vulnerable susceptible to gang life and criminal activity following those around them. Although there is not much solid information on the statistics of those able to speak English, it has been discovered that the Borough is rich in culture and immigration is a recognisable asset to the area. Due to the busy docks, Southwark’s population multiplied by over 300% welcoming in residents from all around the globe speaking over 100 languages in the area.
One of the key demographics elucidated for the London Borough of Southwark is the employment statistics. The area is the 41st most deprived local authority in England and the 12th most deprived in the City of London. The high rate of 22% of residents within the Borough were on a wage lower than the London living wage, making poverty a common sight within Southwark. It has been discovered that deprivation is embedded and also affects the youth of the area, grades being low and residents leaving school with low grades and a maximum of 5 qualifications each. They would influence crime as less of the population are in a stable career adding to the growing deprivation rate. Another crucial fact about housing within the Borough is that it is common for households to house 6 or more heads, making not only the area itself over populated but many individual households.
The demographics of this area generally has a negative effect on the criminal activity. The Borough of Southwark is over populated, under educated, deprived and poorly maintained, these are all assets that most definitely have an impact on crime in the area. In November 2018 crime rates were at a high at 1705 reported and certified criminal activities. 805 of which involved theft robbery or burglary. Another notable crime rate in the area is that of a violent nature, which is understandable considering the demographics and gang related affiliation.
Criminal activity relating to criminal damage and arson towards a property in The London Borough of Southwark has varied, starting 2018 with 109 reports of offences in a single month, one would consider all properties and belongings within the area under threat of criminal damage. This has dropped slightly since at a rate of just 80 report offences.
The construction of large housing estates capable of housing up to 8000 residents came in the 1960s and only added to The London Borough of Southwark’s relationship with the criminal world, which will be elucidated further shortly.
The Maydew House estate in the London Borough of Southwark is a 1960’s brutalist tower block designed by the County Council’s housing department in London. Visually, it is a twenty-six storey apartment block with many similarities to the standard tower block in the City of London. It is formed of mainly colourless. It also s concrete and glass and looks very harsh to the eye, it also gives off a very uninviting feel, the left and stair tower is separated from the main building making it feel very detached and out of place.
Upon research within the report of Development Management planning application: Councils own development, it was discovered that upon reporting the Maydew house estate in the London Borough of Southward, Metropolitan Police acknowledged it the “Designing Out Crime” policy in which requires the design of public housing to aid in the reduction of crime as well as ensure that residents are safe and that the design in no way acts as a gateway for criminal activity. This estate did not meet the standards of design out crime and it was reported that due to its design, it’s experienced incidents of general anti-social behaviour, as well as motor vehicle crime, burglary and criminal damage. With these elements taken on board the Metropolitan Police concluded that a fundamental part of the success of security within social housing, as well as development, ensuring that the public housing complies with the security requirements of secure design in which the adaption of this scheme would reduce opportunities for criminal activity thereby making the estate safer for residents.
Consequent to the exploration of London’s Living Spaces and Places Policy 7.3 designing out crime the following requirements will be excavated and analysed.
“A Boroughs and others should seek to create safe, secure and appropriately accessible environments where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion.”
“Development should reduce the opportunities for criminal behaviour and contribute to a sense of security without being overbearing or intimidating. In particular:”
A “routes and spaces should be legible and well maintained, providing for convenient movement without compromising security”
Providing public paths with separation from private properties to ensure that the public know their boundaries preventing close contact to private properties.
B “there should be a clear indication of whether a space is private, semi-public or public, with natural surveillance of publicly accessible spaces from buildings at their lower floors”
Referring to point A, in addition making sure that public passage ways are within natural surveillance views to prevent criminal activity.
C “design should encourage a level of human activity that is appropriate to the location, incorporating a mix of uses where appropriate, to maximize activity throughout the day and night, creating a reduced risk of crime and a sense of safety at all times”
This point refers to the idea of social housing not feeling secluded from the general public and having close access to public parks/communal areas, shops and other social human activity.
D “places should be designed to promote an appropriate sense of ownership over communal spaces”
Again, similarly to points A and B, making sure boundaries are apparent via possibly fencing or some form of territorial marking.
E “places, buildings and structures should incorporate appropriately designed security features”
This point is more about general safety ensuring theft and burglary are unlikely.
F “schemes should be designed to minimise on-going management and future maintenance costs of the particular safety and security measures proposed”
“The final point is to ensure there wouldn’t need to be regular refurbishment or changes to the housing, creating a long lasting, sustainable block of housing.”
“The above measures should be incorporated at the design stage to ensure that overall design quality is not compromised.”
With the above being elucidated, the information was discovered that The London Borough of Southwark’s Mayhew House was to be sold due to not meeting the decent home standard and couldn’t fund the astonishing £12.2 million refurbishment costs. It was required for residents to evacuate their homes due to “the nature and extent of the work required”.
This is just one of many mass social housing estates in the City of London that are so poorly designed encouraging criminal activity such as theft, violence and burglary and are/will be forced to be demolished or sold to companies of a higher financial bracket for refurbishment which is a big problem for the growing population of poverty-stricken residents.
What is a past example of the effects of poor design?
From August 7th to September 10th in 1888, the Borough of Southwark had an unidentified serial killer roaming the streets. There had been at least five prostitutes murdered in this very impoverished area.
Upon investigations, they knew that the killer had knowledge of anatomy, as bodies were mutilated. Letters were also written to the police, taunting them in a disturbing way.
Since 1888 nearly 100 suspects have been named. This area had skilled immigrants, Jews and Russians but was still known for the high level of violence and crime.
Victims and Locations
Victims Name Date of Death Location of Death
Martha Tabram August 8th 1888 George Yard Buildings
Mary Nichols August 31st 1888 Bucks Row Whitechapel
Annie Chapman September 8th 1888 Hanbury Street
Elizabeth Stride September 30th 1888 Berner Street
Catherine Eddews September 30th 1888 Mitre Square
Mary Kelly November 9th 1888 Dorset Street
Alice McKenzie July 17th 1889 Castle Alley
Frances Coles February 13th 1891 Swallow Gardens
George Yard Buildings
These buildings were constructed in 1875 – they were a former timber yard after the demolition of the slums. They were unlit, with a dark central entrance arch, which lead to communal staircases, which then lead to four floors worth of rooms. There were forty-eight separate lodges. The staircases were usually lit but the rule was that all lights were out after 11p.m. The poor labouring class typically occupied this type of accommodation.
What allowed the murder?
The rule of no lights and the poor design of the building, the enclosed archway leading to almost pure darkness, allowed crimes to be undertaken without the risk of exposure to natural surveillance, enabling people to get away with crimes.
Initially there was a narrow single lane, which was lined by Brownie and Eagle warehouses and a new Cottage and Browns stable yard. This would be described as a dirty and shabby approach that, yet again was unlit.
What allowed the murder?
High rise warehouses provided a dark shadow over the already gloomy street, leaving a dark, narrow, quiet pebbled street without fear of onlookers or passers’ by.
This was on a public street and the murder took place at house number twenty-nine in which seventeen people occupied it. It was a single fronted, three-storey house that was built in 1740 which had two rooms on each floor with an attic. There was access through a stairway up the side of the house. The body was found parallel to the fence between house number twenty-seven and twenty-nine by the rear door into the yard.
What allowed the murder?
Due to the side stairwell and passage to the yard, the public could access easily. Occupants were on the floors above and there was seemingly no activity on the ground floor. The yard where the body was found was poorly lit and enclosed from the public street.
This property contained a variety of buildings including houses on the East Side, as well as Sanders Street and Dutfields Yard and the International Working Men’s Educational Club. The murder site was a narrow yard between house number forty and forty-two, outside the door of the club by a cellar ventilation grate. It has been described as “as dark as erebus” and was also gated which gave more darkness.
What allowed the murder?
Due to the yard being gated by solid wood, this almost put a screen been the dark cove and the public street, preventing any passers-by seeing into the yard. The area also lacked in security, leaving the gate often unlocked, allowing public access. Also, being next to a club, would drown out any noises or screams. Research also discovered that although murders have occurred in this location before, police overlook it as a threat, as for many years, they have observed on several occasions and nothing has been seen and no one has been in the yard. The police, not taking the matter seriously, also contributes to allowing these crimes to happen.
Four large warehouses, a yard, a commercial building and some houses that were not all occupied predominantly occupied this area. The body was found outside Heydemann and Co. yard, which was partially covered as well as boarded by a wooden fence. There is a gas lamp that illuminated the street and was reported deficient on the night of the murder.
What allowed the murder?
Tall shadowing buildings and abandoned houses allow crime, as the public did not access them. The corner that the body was discovered, was in the darkest area of the street, with its tall warehouse and fenced off side left it enclosed and difficult to see from afar. The carelessness of not making sure the lights worked was down to the night watchman so again security, not being taken seriously.
The narrow street developed as a footpath in 1674. Properties included common lodging houses and pubs also occupied the street. It was nicknames “Dosset Street” and noted for its poor character. It housed a brick alleyway leading to Millers Court, where the victim’s room was. Three other murders took place there.
What allowed the murder?
Poverty and poorly secured areas allowed public to access the houses through the dark alleyway, at twenty feet long and three feet wide, it was darkness leading into darkness to a fifteen feet square yard. Natural surveillance is minimal in this area, especially at the time of the murder in the early hours.
This property initially has an alley linking Castle Street and Whitechapel High Street which is very narrow and covered by an arch way. It is commonly described as the lowest quarters of London and is one hundred and eighty yards in length and is entirely shut off from view, a few yards in.
What allowed the murder?
Because of the narrowness and the intricacy of surrounding houses, it made it easy for the murderer to flee and the out of view dark alley way was an easy place to commit a crime.
This was originally greenery and landscaped but the railway was constructed, and the area was hidden by arch ways. The body was found twenty feet in at 2.20a.m. early morning.
What allowed the murder?
The darkness and unpopularity of the area, since the railway building made it a quiet place and the enclosed arches allowed shadows for crimes.
Chapter Three – The London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames
Richmond shown within Greater London (10) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Borough_of_Richmond_upon_Thames#/media/File:Richmond_in_Greater_London.svg
Richmond upon Thames stretches 12 miles along either side of the riverside of the Thames Estuary, it is recognised for its split through the middle of the Borough. It was established in 1965 by amalgamation of the two Boroughs. Barnes and Richmond, the County of Surrey. Almost half of the Borough is public space, including a lot of parks and historic villages and is considered a high-class residential area where only 12% of the residents are low paid. With that being said, it still contains social housing throughout and since the arrival of railways, the population has rocketed. There are also many tourist attractions within the London Borough of Richmond including National Archives, showcasing historical pieces including Shakespeare’s will, also theatres and many churches.
The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames was home to the first area with council housing in the City of London. In history, it was noted that some areas were extremely overpopulated creating almost slums throughout but by the 1900’s over 100 more houses were built, making the area more manageable and better quality.
Richmond upon Thames has a population of 180,990 and is made up of approximately 51% females and 49% males. Within the area the average and median age is around 38 years old. 46.3% of which are married. Almost 90% of the population of Richmond upon Thames speaks English and 71.5% were born in the country. An important sector in Richmond upon Thames demographics is the top occupations, with almost 80% of the population at a professional level making the areas unemployment rate extremely low, with other popular professions such as Associate Professional Managers, Directors and Senior Officials, Science, Research, Engineering and Technology professionals taking up over 45% of the populations careers.
The demographics of this area has a positive impact on criminal activity because it is not over populated, and the majority of the public are adults with a high standard of profession.
In November 2018, there was a total of six-hundred and ninety-six criminal offences reported and certified within the Borough of Richmond upon Thames, some of which included its highest reported crime violence, with a total of 140 reports along with one-hundred and sixteen reports of burglary and one-hundred and fifteen vehicle related crimes. These statistics are at a reasonable rate for The City of London, making it one of the safest Borough’s in the radius.
Criminal activity relating to criminal damage and arson towards property in The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames has been at a high of no more than sixty reported offences and at a current rate of forty-six, this area in particular is one of the lowest in The City of London for criminal activity which could have been positively influenced by the lack of tower blocks frequent in other, higher crime rated areas.
Edgar Road Estate
The Edgar Road estate in Hounslow, The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames is an area consisting primarily of flats with around 147 purpose-built flats, housing mostly single individual people and either owned outright or owned with a mortgage. Visually these flats look slightly like those of university accommodation, so they don’t carry the same dingy look most mass housing estates within London. Also, the security of the building has a different approach to most flats as there is no public walkways through the building so the only people loitering or walking around the block would be those that live there. Often residents pay brackets act as a judgement for the poor quality of the estate, but the Edgar Road Estate argues this due to most of its residents semi-skilled or unskilled manual workers with a total of seventy-six and a mere fifty-five at a higher paid, managerial/professionally positioned career. Due to this, estates initial design being thought out and considered, it fully complies to designing out crime as well as the decent home standards and therefore evaded any chance of needing to sell on or be demolished.
Although, as principal contractor, Lawtech funded by effective energy decided to encompass more of an energy efficient approach in order to keep the properties contemporary as well as sustainable and more environmentally friendly. This housing refurbishment scheme included improvement of landscape, any required roof repairs and concrete repairs, new fire doors, replacement windows and also the replacement A rated boilers with flue-extensions. All of the above improves not only the structure itself but also the quality of the life of those residing in it. There area minimal criminal offences noted within the estate other than a stabbing and a shooting which related to gang violence, that of which is almost inevitable in the City of London but had no relation the environment surrounding or the design of the buildings.
What is a past example of the effects of poor design?
On March 5th, 1879, a wooden box was found in the Thames – Barnes Bridge. It contained a dismembered body of a woman. She had been boiled and her head and foot were missing, due to poor surveillance there was no physical evidence against anyone or any eyewitnesses.
Kate Webster, who was 30 years old and born in Killane, County Wexford was already being watched by the police for previous crimes. While in prison, her son was looked after by a lady with the name of Sarah Crease, who introduced her to Julia Martha Thomas, a fifty-four year old widow who lived in Vine Cottages in Richmond.
On March 2nd 1879, a neighbour heard a loud thump, which was in fact Kate Webster, axe murdering Julia Martha Thomas. That day, Kate Webster dismembered and boiled the body which was something that the neighbour could, undoubtedly smell but could not distinguish or recognise as something she had previously smelt before!
On March 4th, Kate Webster asked a family friend to help clear her house that she had inherited from her Aunt (Julia Martha Thomas’ house!) and says she had a box to deliver to a friend. They walked to Richmond Bridge and she asked him to leave while she met her fried in the central recess on the bridge. The family member then heard a splash?! The neighbour enquired about Julia Martha Thomas when she noticed that Kate Webster was selling her furniture. Upon being questioned, she instantly fled.
On March 28th, Kate Webster was arrested at the family home in Ireland.
Now although this case lead to success in finding Kate Webster, it is still unanswered as to how she got as far as discarding of the body in the River Thames running through Richmond upon Thames. The natural surveillance around the area was clearly poor, as to only having one single eyewitness who was with the killer to identify the suspicious looking, poorly presented distinctive wooden box, of reasonable size to hold all but two body parts of a fully grown woman seems extremely absurd.
Due to this case happening before the rise of technology, there was no form of electronic cameras or CCTV, meaning the route of the killer could never be traced, and there would be no photographic evidence in search for the killer. Contemporarily, in London ones every move is recorded via surveillance cameras on every corner, outside shops, houses and generally dotted around The Thames riverbank so if a crime like this was to be reported at this day, CCYV footage would be able to piece together almost the whole story in a matter of hours. Which means that although technology has been frowned upon it has benefitted solving crimes by having access to the footage of surrounding areas tracking the moves of the suspect ultimately finding the killer in an effective, hard evidenced manor.
Chapter Four – Borough Comparison
Starting from the core of comparison, looking at the size difference, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames is an astonishing 28.56km2 larger, at a total of 57.41km2 than the London Borough of Southwark which stretches over a 28.85km2 of land across the City of London. Despite the Borough of Richmond upon Thames is almost double the size of the Borough of Southwark, the populations of the boroughs seem as though they are the wrong way around. Richmond upon Thames has a small population of 180,990 comparing to the smaller Borough of Southwark having a staggering population of 306,745. This already flags the area red as it is undoubtably overpopulated, which after studying the point, is proven to have negative effects. Looking into the crime rates in the opposing London Boroughs, Southwark has over double the reported criminal offences than Richmond upon Thames towering at 1,705 in November 2018, 1,009 more reported criminal offences than the 696 in the Richmond upon Thames, something that has become apparent throughout comparing both Borough’s is the financial state. Due to the financial state of the London Borough of Southwark the consideration and quality of the mass social housing estates are not up to the standard of that in the opposing, wealthier Borough of Richmond upon Thames.
Comparing two Borough’s mass housing visually, the Edgar Road estate has a much more inviting feel, there isn’t anywhere in the building itself that is accessible to the public preventing strangers wandering the corridors, compared to Maydew House. Maydew House has public walkways throughout the structure meaning anyone can access the tower, allowing criminals to target residents or other members of the public. Natural surveillance within blocks is difficult but again security plays a big part in this, for example, all the public passageways throughout Maydew House could not all be naturally surveyed due to the placement of housing being in rows.
Comparing the past crimes allowed by the environment in both Borough’s proved that Southwark has a lot more places offering the opportunity for criminal activity in dark streets, enclosed areas and, also areas out of the public eye. Although, back in the time period that the crimes took place, there was no such thing as CCTV, which is something that would prevent such severe crimes and also aid in the investigation. The comparison if the two Boroughs has inevitably proven that the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames is not only the more desirable residential area, but also the wealthier, happier, correctly populated out of the two.
Chapter Five – Designing Out Crime
It is to be noted that there is a lot of considerations for creating successful, safe, social housing. Starting by always considering the safe locations, the conditions of those and most importantly, the number of residents expected to occupy the houses. As well as adopting more considered methods of constructions, to ensure a more sustainable, long lasting style of housing. The importance of natural surveillance within communities has been emphasised in this dissertation’s findings, in addition, lighting in public areas and CCTV security, all play a part in disallowing the activities of crime in the contemporary housing schemes.
Between 2009 and 2010, roughly 9.6 million crimes were reported in the United Kingdom. This not only has a major impact on the victims physical mental health and the property, it also causes great financial strain on all parties including the costs of updating security for homes in which one would expect to be already safe and secure, as well as the cost to authorities in responding to the crime, also the cost incurred as a consequence of crime, which was why it needs to be targeted and the disadvantages need to be prevented by designing out crime from the start.
It is important to understand that designing out crime is much more than reliable locks, it is the consideration from the project start for many factors such as the acknowledgement of whom the design is for. For example, designing dark areas out of natural surveillance for low paid, poverty areas and residents provide susceptible place for many criminal offences such as robbery and the distribution of drugs and even cases as serious as rape, stabbings or murder.
While considering the above, it is crucial to ensure that those in these environments of mass housing that they still experience the enjoyment that all of the general public enjoy such as social areas, services, places and products to those who would benefit, as it has been brought to light that a lot of residents in mass housing often feel rejected and isolated from the public. It is key to consider the mentality of the residents considering any pay bracket, as the feeling of demoralisation or vandalism. So, it is important to give residents more than just a concrete structure to live in and focus on creating homes and communities in these mass housing estates without the isolation from surrounding residential properties in the area.
In addition, neighbourhood watch has been considered in the process of designing out crime, with over 173,000 schemes covering over 7.9 million households in the United Kingdom.
An example of an area in which acknowledged the problems and then acted, is the Green Man Lane estate in Ealing. Once plagued with anti-social behaviour and problems. With 1000 residents in this small estate, its n wonder crime was high, as stated before, the consideration of quantity of residents is vital because, if over populated, crime heightens. Alongside the crime, the design was just as poor. There were not many clear routes around the estate, a lot of dereliction throughout the area and there wasn’t many adequate public, social areas for residents. The aim of the designing out crime scheme in the Green Man Lane estate was to eliminate any negative atmospheres the estate brought to the residents and a generally safer environment. Due to this, more routes in and out of the estate were created, allowing easy access and if necessary, easy escape. As well as aerial walkways and open access under crofts and they were replaced with traditional pavements that would be seen elsewhere in the area. Something that is key in designing out crime, is natural surveillance as well as electronical, which is something the Green Man Lane estate thrives in now, in the view of other houses and, also a busy street with lots of passing traffic. Gardens of the properties in the estate aren’t accessible now from any other route than through the property, whereas before they were easily accessible through gates leading to
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