Recommendations on how to enhance security in urban planning or public spaces 

Recommendations on how to enhance security in urban planning or public spaces 

Gavin Wilson, Director of Physical Security and Risk, Toro Solutions 

In today’s urban landscape, restructuring and construction developments are revolutionising the utilisation of private, public and quasi-public space. These areas are progressively offering the public greater accessibility to a variety of essential amenities, including residential, retail and social facilities. However, amidst the allure of convenience, these spaces also present huge security vulnerabilities and have become attractive and easy targets for both crime and acts of terrorism. 

The introduction of Martyn’s Law will bring into practice the requirement to assess security risks and employ effective security measures to manage the terrorism threat in certain premises and for events. 

Martyn’s Law addresses that any publicly accessible location is a potential target therefore these practices will no doubt transcend further in publicly accessible spaces resulting in enhanced security features and practices. 

Whilst Martyn’s Law will help drive up standards across the UK there are many initiatives currently in place, along with technology advancements that are helping to improve security in these spaces. 

The heightened presence of CCTV cameras and private security personnel surrounding urban developments demonstrates the investment of landowners in safeguarding properties, client assets, and public safety. Technological advancements in surveillance have enabled private and public security to better detect, respond and disrupt crime. So too has the progression in behavioural detection and counter terrorism training such as the SCaN and ACT Awareness courses as a mandatory requirement for those working in security. We expect to see greater use of the technology and people blend as advancements in security technologies and training continue. 

Initiatives such as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and Secured by Design have already demonstrated how good security planning and practice in urban and public environments can have a positive security effect to safeguard the public whilst maintaining the attractiveness and openness of these spaces. 

Crime prevention initiatives in the built environment are not a new concept but they have become far more apparent in newer developments and where high streets and housing developments have been structured to better control or restrict the flow of traffic, create greater light and provide better natural surveillance. 

Adopting core principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a good starting point when seeking to enhance security in public spaces, however, this is a starting point only and all projects need to be considered of their individual nuances and objectives: 

Natural surveillance which gives greater emphasis on visibility such as improving lighting and reducing blind spots 

Access control by creating access routes and movement throughout the area and is often seen using planters, benches, and vehicle barriers to control vehicle traffic and clearly marked pathways and pedestrian access routes. 

Territorial reinforcement by encouraging the right security and safety behaviours through the effective provision and positioning of markers, barriers, and other visual cues. 

Maintenance ensures the environment is well kept and the security measures are maintained and working. 

It’s incredibly important to consider security at the onset of any project. You need to ensure that the right security measures, culture, and behaviours are developed into an environment that fully aligns with the projects vision and objectives. Failing to do this will usually result in higher crime, lack of compliance and costly retrofitting to correct the mistakes. 

As urban landscapes evolve to prioritise accessibility and community engagement, the integration of robust security measures is crucial. By embracing initiatives like CPTED and Secured by Design and leveraging advancements in surveillance technology and improved security training, urban developments can strike a balance between openness and safety, creating vibrant and secure public spaces for all. 

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