Environmental design, crime and vulnerability : a case study of Wentworth.
Apartheid environmental design and planning was aimed at controlling people rather than emphasising safety and security. This resulted in disadvantaged townships becoming conducive to crime and other social problems. In order to address this problem emphasis has been placed on the role of planning and design of the environment in reducing crime. Thus, the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) model has been suggested as one way of reducing crime and managing the physical environment. The model contends that reducing and preventing actual and perceived crime will improve the quality of life of residents and create quality living environments. This study examined the relationship between crime and planning and design in the Wentworth community, situated in the South Durban Basin of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. A key question was, how the design and planning of the physical environment could directly influence an increase or decrease in safety and vulnerability in Wentworth. This study found residents were aware of crime in the community and did not feel safe. Crime and victimisation was associated with areas that exhibited poor planning and design. In addition, crime hotspots were concentrated around these areas. An analysis of the specific planning and design problems within the Wentworth, indicates that modifying the environment using various design measures will reduce crime and vulnerability. Residents' responses regarding the use of the various CPTED principles to address crime were positive. Local government is tasked with implementing the model in the community, yet only a few projects have actually incorporated it. While officials contend that they are actively engaging in crime prevention, residents' believed that not enough is being done to lower crime, and improve the quality of life. A key issue is that besides crime practitioners, planners are also central to implementing the CPTED model, as it incorporates planning and design. However, lack of cooperation between these individuals has resulted in planners unknowingly using the model in urban renewal and regeneration projects. While this reflects the innovative use of the model, it also highlights the limited use of CPTED in targeted crime prevention initiatives. However, a positive outcome of this use is that even though urban renewal and regeneration projects aim to create quality environments, and not directly influence crime, by virtue of using CPTED, they are also indirectly influencing a decrease in criminality and fear.
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