Sentinel Group

Seven environmental design secrets to take back your public spaces from vandals and loiterers

Did you know proper community planning and design can reduce crime and make the public feel safer in communal places?

Many cities around crime prevention strategy based on the theory that strategic design and practical use of the built environment can reduce and even prevent criminal activities and intentional damage to public property, reducing public fear and improving local residents’ quality of life.

1. Plan ahead

When planning for and designing a new public space, it’s a good idea to anticipate the reasons your property could be vandalised or used for other anti-social and criminal activities.

Think about the reasons people undertake these activities. Are they a result of a broader socio-economic issue?

Consider what makes certain places more appealing for anti-social behaviours, such as easy access, low visibility or a run-down, unkempt appearance.

How can your design make the location less conducive to this behaviour? What elements do you need to include in your plan to prevent vandalism and other criminal activity before it happens?

Use vandal-proof fixings to secure infrastructure

2. Use vandal-proof fixings to secure infrastructure

Many cities and towns use tamper-proof fixtures to protect community assets from damage or vandalism and to reduce the risk of accident and injury to people using the municipalities’ property.

While every community space is unique, there are common elements that can be found all over Australia and the world including signage, street furniture, playgrounds, shelters, masonry, and barbeque areas.

There are specialised bolts and fasteners of each of these features, explicitly designed for items use and materials.

Standard fittings include screw and sleeve anchors for masonry, clutch-head screws for signage, Resytork machine screws for seating and play areas and stellar barrel nuts for shelters and landscape structures.

Click here to learn more about types of anti-theft and tamper-proof security screws used to protect public places.

Download our product handbook for a more detailed look at our range of security fixings.

2. <h2> Use vandal-proof fixings to secure infrastructure

3. Improve public visibility

Many public places have areas which are partly or entirely obscured from public view, these places are more likely to invite anti-social behaviour.

Good environmental design takes advantage of the premise that people do
not wish to be seen doing illegal or objectionable activities because it increases their chance of being reported or caught by police.

Using the principle of natural surveillance to create a better line of sight increases the perceived risk of being caught and makes the general public feel safer and more confident using the space.

Natural surveillance is created by well-planned lighting, clear sightlines appropriate landscaping and minimisation of hidden and isolated spaces.

For this appropriate to remain successful for into the future infrastructure, such as lights, need to be maintained regularly and replaced if damaged or vandalised.

Security housings fitted with vandal-proof screws can improve the durability of these fixtures and deter intentional damage, reducing maintenance costs and improving public safety.

Improve public visibility

4. Restrict unwanted access

Another practical method of reducing vandalism and other anti-social behaviour is to minimise unwanted access to the community space.

Natural access control is the idea that physical elements such as doors, fences, shrubs, and psychological barriers such as signs, changes paving texture, nature strips, lighting and other features prevent illegal access.

These controls have the effect of deterring criminal activity and assist in directing legitimate users along safe designated paths to their destination more quickly and safely.

You can keep these barriers and deterrents safe from sabotage and defacement by using tamper-proof and anti-theft fastenings of appropriate security level to fix the infrastructure and any protective housing in place.

Remember, it’s crucial these fixtures are not able to be removed using easily accessible tools.

Restrict unwanted access

5. Use regular maintenance and repairs as a deterrent

While it can be costly, it’s essential to conduct regular maintenance on your community spaces and replace broken infrastructure as soon as possible.

When a community space looks run-down, unsafe and unloved, it’s less likely to be used by the general public.

The less an area is frequented by legitimate users such as families, runners, dog walkers, community groups and the elderly the more likely offenders and miscreants are to move into the area.  This creates a cycle that can be difficult to break.

Yet again, anti-theft security screws can prevent damage before it occurs by making it more difficult to access and break expensive community infrastructure – saving money of replacement parts and labour costs.

Remember, it’s important to consider the level of security of your fixings and make sure they’re not able to be removed using easily accessible tools.

To learn more about the different levels of security read more here: https://blog.sentinelgrp.com.au/right-fastener-levels-security/

Use regular maintenance and repairs as a deterrent

6. Surveillance to deter criminal activity

Good old fashioned surveillance isn’t pretty, but it’s often necessary to deter delinquent behaviour and identify people who wilfully damage public property.

Closed Circuit Television Cameras are a popular choice in shopping districts and public amenities.

When installed in public view or advertised with signage, cameras increase the perceived risk of being caught and makes the general public feel safer and more confident using the space.

To be a useful tool in the fight against crime cameras need to be kept safe from damage and sabotage.

It’s vital to encase surveillance equipment in protective housings that are secured with high-level security fastenings, that cannot be removed with readily available tools.

Surveillance to deter criminal activity

7. Foster community pride

Last but not least, public pride is one of the best deterrents of vandalism, sabotage and other offensive behaviours.

The easiest way to do this is to design your public space something to be something the community will be proud of and want to use.

Well-maintained and beautiful street art, playgrounds, picnic areas, exercise equipment, interpretive signage and gardens are all things communities feel passionate about and will use and protect.

Foster community pride

Ask the experts

Our specialist team can sit down with you, talk about your project and provide advice about the right fasteners for each application.

If you need something custom, we can make your product stand out with unique head styles and drive recesses.