Making Places Safe
- Crime needs a place to happen.
- Making Places Safe from crime puts focus on the where question.
- It is far easier to develop a security plan for a single place than to figure out answers to innumerable questions about who, what, when, how, and why crime might occur.
- A rising trend in criminal activity may require some level of intention and action to address the contributing risk factors.
Making Places Safe
Some places are inherently safe. Without any thought, action, or intention required to make them that way. This does not mean that these places are 100% guaranteed safe. Yet, most would agree that it’s reasonably safe. These fortunate places usually have several things in common:
- Historically safe geographic area & neighborhood.
- The nature of the premises is low-risk (e.g. single-family home versus 24-hour store).
- Daily activity & visitor traffic is low-risk.
- The occupants or users of the place keep it reasonably safe.
Some places can be made reasonably safe by using basic security methods or compliance with regulations:
- For example, minimum standards set forth by building codes, city planning, or business license.
- Private places can limit or restrict access, enforce rules, and use counter-measures like video surveillance, alarm systems, and warning signs.
- Shopping center common area lighting and landscaping can meet minimum city planning CPTED standards.
- Residential structures can meet minimum building code standards with adequate door and window security features & fire safety devices.
- Nightclubs can meet minimum standards by complying with fire marshal building capacity, permitted use regulations, licensing & permits, alcohol service training.
What happens if circumstances change and compliance with minimum standards no longer provide adequate security?
- A good place to start is to make a new crime risk assessment as a basis for modifying the original security plan.
- A reasonable security plan addresses the specific circumstances of the property necessary for reducing the crime risk.
- No security plan is perfect, but a clearly defined plan shows a positive response to making places safe.
- The security plan must be property-based.
- Every place is different when you consider location, design, size, layout, intended use, traffic, demographics, and activity.
- A corporate-wide security plan may not be adequate to address the factors identified in the local crime risk assessment.
- A security plan must be clearly defined and articulated for making places safe.
- It should leverage facility design, and use of hardware, equipment, personnel, and procedures to the extent necessary to make the property reasonably safe.
- A security plan does not have to address a temporary activity center that elevates the crime risk if it can be eliminated as a component of the property.
- A security plan should be dynamic enough to assign different levels of priority for the protection of people or property by variables in day-of-week and time-of-day.
Who is responsible for making places safe?
It’s a question of who has the duty, control, authority, or undertakes by agreement. The duty for making places safe can be a complex legal question especially when disputed. In future episodes, we will interview attorneys and property management experts about the legal concepts of duty, negligence, liability, and the sometimes cooperative responsibility for making places safe.
Here is a list of who typically has responsibility for making places safe (in order of precedence):
- A property owner (e.g. private or public entity).
- Property manager.
- Property user.
- Some combination of the above.
A security plan is a blueprint for making places safe
- A reasonable security plan is an adequate response to the findings of the crime risk assessment.
- The security plan of action addresses the foreseeable crime risks determined by the risk assessment.
- The security plan complies with all minimum standards and known liability issues.
- The security plan has systems in place to maintain compliance, documentation, and measured results.
In this episode you learned about:
- Concepts about making places safe.
- Public versus private property types.
- Differences in residential, retail, office, and light-industrial properties.
- Whose job is it to make places safe.
- Duty for developing a security plan.
- Importance of facility design.
- Use of Hardware.
- Use of Equipment.
- Use of Personnel.
- Use of policy & procedures.
- Property conditions that may affect crime.
- Generic corporate security plans may not be adequate.
- Develop a security plan with audit systems and a maintenance schedule.
- Make security plans that monitor compliance and exposure to liability.
Learn More about Premises Liability Litigation
Download the book written by Crime School host Chris McGoey.
- Security Expert’s Guide to Premises Liability Litigation.
- Evaluating Crime Foreseeability and Inadequate Security Cases.