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Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) Resource Page

An annotated bibliography

Article image

Tinus Kruger, Nosizo Sebake

15 May 2023

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)


uKESA Librarian, Nosizo Sebake


Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

South Africa

The physical environment is often an important contributing factor in determining whether a crime is likely, or unlikely, to occur in a particular location. Changing the physical environment in a specific way could therefore create challenges for certain types of crime to be committed and may reduce incidents of crime and violence in a particular area. This is a well-recognised and widely practiced approach to crime prevention and is internationally most commonly known as Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED).


CPTED is a multi-disciplinary approach to crime prevention that involves urban and architectural planning and design, as well as the management of the built and natural environment. CPTED strategies aim to reduce victimisation, influence offender decisions that precede criminal acts, and build a sense of community among inhabitants to reduce crime and minimise fear of crime.  Although CPTED has a particular focus on the physical environment, the approach is inherently linked to human behaviour. For this reason, CPTED involves more than just physical interventions. CPTED initiatives should incorporate other crime prevention and community development initiatives as part of an integrated strategy to create safer, liveable spaces and places.


This uKESA information page summarises selected sources dealing with CPTED listed in order of year of publication, from most recent to earliest.


Kruger (2017) Mapping and Spatial Design for Community Crime Prevention.


This web article describes a project undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) involving community-based participatory mapping to identify and analyse crime “hotspots”. The practice forms part of a number of strategies employed by communities to contain crime through environmental and spatial design. Using drawing, photography, mapping and discussions, the approach helps to evaluate places where crimes occur and plan responses for spaces identified as unsafe.


Kruger, Lancaster, Landman, Liebermann, Louw, and Robertshaw (2016) Making South Africa Safe: A Manual for Community-based Crime Prevention (Revision 1).


This manual was developed to support those responsible for developing and implementing a crime prevention strategy at a local level. It provides concise, user-friendly, practical guidance and outlines a step-by-step process to develop and implement a community-based crime prevention strategy. It is aimed primarily at local government, but others involved in community safety such as a Community Police Forum (CPF), Community Safety Forum (CSF) or another type of community organisation could also benefit from it.


Kruger, (2015) The IUDF: Our chance to plan and design safer cities for South Africa.


In this blog post by Tinus Kruger on the SaferSpaces website, the possible contribution of the draft Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) to the development of safer urban spaces was explored. Positive aspects were highlighted, and possible opportunities to strengthen the document were outlined.


Marks and Overall (2015) Breaking Down Walls: New Solutions for More Effective Urban Crime Prevention in South African Cities. In Stability: International Journal of Security and Development.


In the late apartheid period, South African suburbs began to change dramatically in both their appearance and design. Essentially, housing was designed with the aim of keeping intruders out. This included constructing increasingly high walls and implementing electrified fences and laser beams. Alongside these ‘investments’ and design innovations came the massive growth of the private security industry. A new mentality emerged that focused on fortifying home and office space. Initially, this was strongly supported and bolstered by the private security industry that had vested interests in the rush to monitor space and strengthen security. Whether or not high walls and electrified fences reduce experiences of crime victimisation for individual homeowners and residents is debatable. The private security industry and the police now suggest that walls might not provide the security homeowners believe they do. This research investigates whether walls, electric fences, and beams, among other tools, succeed in reducing fear of crime and victimisation, from the perspective of those who police, i.e., public and private security organisations. The aim is to establish whether policing agents view walls as an aid or hindrance to policing and security management. The ‘praxis’ goal of this research is, through public engagement, to shift paradigms about walls and security and to bring to the fore the importance of natural surveillance and neighbourly contact in making urban spaces safer.


Saville and Kruger (2012) Designing cities to minimise crime. In Sustainable Cities - Building Cities for the Future.


This article describes possible ways of sensibly incorporating safety planning and sustainability in tomorrow’s cities. It illustrates this with experiences using a holistic form of CPTED from two different contexts, including examples from North America and South Africa. The authors conclude that when considering the sustainability of human settlements, the devastating impact of crime and violence needs to be considered. They suggest that policymakers consider CPTED models that incorporate sustainability and coherent planning methods for neighbourhoods. Additionally, the authors imply that CPTED practitioners can make a substantial contribution to a safer and more sustainable future.


Kruger and Landman (2008) Crime and the physical environment in South Africa: Contextualizing international crime prevention experiences. In Built Environment.


This paper highlights a number of responses, particularly those that recognize the physical (built) environment as a factor that could enhance or reduce opportunities for crime. It commences with a brief discussion of some of the distinctive features of the South African context and a number of key challenges impacting on crime and crime reduction initiatives in the country. The next section deals with some typical responses to the crime problems in South Africa, followed by a description of an approach to crime prevention through environmental design developed in response to the local context and challenges.


Landman and Kruger (2007) Crime and public transport - designing a safer journey. The 26th Annual South African Transport Conference.


One of the major concerns of the majority of South Africans is the relatively high levels of crime. The transport sector faces its own set of challenges in this regard. For instance, the fact that the majority of poorer people stay relatively far away from their places of employment requires them to spend a considerable amount of time travelling. Commuters are very vulnerable to crime during these journeys. They are exposed to being victimised on busses, trains or minibus taxis, while changing from one mode of transport to another at stations, or when walking from drop-off points to their places of work or to their homes. This paper addresses issues related to transport and security with a particular focus on the role that the physical environment plays in increasing or reducing opportunities for crime. The focus is on crime problems on public transport and the use of specific planning and design interventions to reduce crime in the South African context.


Kruger, Landman, and Liebermann (2001) Designing Safer Places: A Manual for Crime Prevention through Planning and Design.


This manual intends to promote cooperation between the police, local government, and other role players to improve local-level crime prevention through the design of safer environments. It highlights the role that those practitioners responsible for shaping the built environment - urban planners and designers, architects, landscape architects, and engineers, etc. - can play in creating safer communities. The manual provides practical recommendations that will assist these professionals (private practitioners as well as government officials) in incorporating crime prevention principles into their thinking when planning and designing new developments. It also provides guidance with regard to the improvement of existing environments to reduce crime and increase people's feelings of safety.


Kruger (2005) Building safer communities – reducing crime through environmental planning and design. XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing.


The paper deals with the relationship between crime and the physical (built) environment and specifically the housing environment in poorer communities. It discusses the concept of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) with respect to its theoretical approach, its basic principles, and its application within the South African context. The strengths and limitations of this approach are also addressed.


Kruger (2005) Carrots, Sticks and Apples - Mechanisms to Encourage the Use of CPTED. Conference of the International CPTED Association.


This paper examines a number of mechanisms available to encourage the use of CPTED and support its effective implementation at the national as well as local levels. It is based on experiences within South Africa but also draws on an understanding of international practice. The next section of the paper provides some background to the introduction of CPTED to South Africa, followed by a brief overview of some mechanisms supporting the implementation of CPTED internationally and a discussion of various mechanisms employed in South Africa.


Kruger, Meyer, Napier, Pascolo, Qhobela, Shaw, Oppler, Niyabo, and Louw (1997) “Safer by Design. Towards Effective Crime Prevention through Environmental Design for South Africa”. ISS Monograph No 16.


This monograph briefly outlines the state of the debate on crime prevention through environmental design, and reviews South African developments in this area. A ‘safer by design’ strategy under Programme 2.1, Pillar 2, of the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) is proposed.



More information is also available at the following sites:


Photo credit: SaferSpaces: Mapping and Spatial Design for Community Crime Prevention


Website References


Built environment



Crime and security




Environmental management


Home owners

Human settlements




Local government


Policy commentaries

Poverty & inequality

Residential preferences


Safety & security

South Africa

Urban design

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