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UAL Research Online

Designing Products Against Crime

Ekblom, Paul (2014) Designing Products Against Crime. In: Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Springer Science+Business Media, New York, pp. 948-957. ISBN 978-1-4614-5689-6 (print) 978-1-4614-5690-2 (online)

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: Ekblom, Paul

Crime, unlike mercy, doesn’t fall like a gentle rain evenly covering the land – it gathers in pools. Risk of crime is concentrated in particular places (Eck et al., 2007), on particular victims (Farrell and Pease, 2008) and on particular products, the focus of this chapter. This concentration has two kinds of implication. On the one hand it gives strong clues about the causation of criminal events, whether concerning the targets or tools of those crimes or the insecurity of their immediate situation; on the other, it guides the kind of situational crime prevention (SCP) strategy that can be adopted. That strategy can be developed either in reaction to an established pattern of risk, or in anticipation, but in either case the underlying rationale is the same. If you – as policy-maker, police officer, designer, manufacturer or consumer – can identify the targets and tools at elevated risk of featuring in crime, then you can respectively concentrate your preventive policies and practices, direct your costly operational resources, design and incorporate elevated security performance in particular products, and choose the make and model of product you buy according to security ratings, as happens, say, with the UK car theft index (Laycock, 2004).

There is much practice and research into how the design of the built environment increases, or decreases, the risk of crime. But this chapter covers products, essentially two- or three-dimensional objects that have been designed and manufactured in some way, and which may be portable (e.g. laptops), mobile (e.g. cars), movable (e.g. home cinema TV sets), incorporated (e.g. a tamper-evident lid for a medicine container) or installed (e.g. a cash machine).

Classes of items at elevated risk of crime have been dubbed ‘hot products’ (Clarke, 1999), revisited below. Products may be hot by virtue of their intrinsic material value (such as jewellery or bronze statuary), their manufactured-in value (such as a mobile phone) or some combination. In either case, this ‘reward’ value (using rational choice perspective terms – Cornish and Clarke, 1986) is often accompanied by some kind of opportunity, enabling the product to be taken with relatively little effort or risk to the offender. Of course, risk and effort may partly reside in the nature of the environment in which the products are typically found, such as whether guardians of targets (Cohen and Felson, 1979) or other kinds of crime preventer (Ekblom, 2011) are present, capable and motivated. But much of that opportunity may reside in the rewarding and/or vulnerable design of the product itself; and even if the design is not obviously ‘culpable’ (e.g. an easy-to-steal car or a provocative poster) design solutions may be the most reliable and/or cost-effective remedy.

The first section of this chapter begins by defining key terms such as risk and risk factors. It then reviews how the latter feature in situational crime prevention notably via the phenomenon of hot products; the underlying causes of elevated risk; the risk life-cycle of products. The second part covers the response to elevated risk, notably via intervention through design, covering both content and process; anticipation of future risks; and evidence of effectiveness. As said, the focus is on two-and three-dimensional manufactured products excluding buildings and landscapes although some such products can be considered enclosures (such as handbags or vehicles) with ‘access control’ resemblances to buildings (you can break into a building or car, or slip or slash open a handbag or purse, to reach the contents you wish to steal). (The architectural approach known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED – e.g. Armitage, [ref to chapter in this volume]) has developed its own terminological traditions – not always clear ones – and concepts and theory need integrating with SCP.) The important role of businesses in creating or reducing crime opportunities in manufactured products, and the difficulties of influencing their ‘design decision-making’ to give some weight to security, is covered only briefly; more is in Ekblom (2012a) and Hardie and Hobbs (2005). The creativity of criminals themselves is well-addressed in Cropley et al. (2010). The role of government in incentivising and otherwise leading on design is discussed in Clarke and Newman (2005) and was exemplified in the UK Home Office’s Design and Technology Alliance (see www.designcouncil.org.uk/our-work/challenges/security/design-out-crime/ for useful case studies).

Official Website: http://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_551
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: designing out crime, design out crime, hot products
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Springer Science+Business Media
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Research Centres/Networks > Design Against Crime at the Innovation Centre (DAC)
Date: 1 January 2014
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_551
Related Websites: http://www.springer.com/gb/book/9781461456896, http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/knowledge-resources/case-study/design-out-crime, http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/knowledge-resources/report/design-out-crime-case-studies
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Date Deposited: 27 May 2015 12:22
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2016 12:51
Item ID: 7968
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/7968

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