Secured by design

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Secured by design (SBD) is a UK not for profit organisation owned by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) that has a goal to persuade the building, construction and design industry to adopt secure design methodology and to use products with a proven track record in defeating known criminal methods of entry.


Established in 1989, Secured by Design (SBD) is the title for a group of national police projects focusing on the design and security for new & refurbished homes, commercial premises and car parks as well as the acknowledgement of quality security products and crime prevention projects. It supports the principles of ‘designing out crime’ through physical security and processes.

Linked to the governments planning objective of creating secure, quality places where people wish to live and work, Secured by Design has been cited as a key model in the Office of Deputy Prime Minister's guide 'Safer Places - The Planning System & Crime Prevention' and in the Home Office's 'Crime Reduction Strategy 2008-11'. Secured by Design works with the industry and test houses to create high level security standards, responding to trends in crime, and has inputted on a number of key standards including PAS: 24, TS007, TS008, TS009.

Secured by Design has been evaluated many times by external bodies. Results from these evaluations have show that the use of high quality windows and doors that meet Secured by Design requirements, will reduce burglary.


Designing out crime deals with concepts of reducing anonymity of the offender, territoriality; the relationship between private space and public space, environmental and building design all supported by physical security measures. Offenders feel more vulnerable in private space and adjoining public spaces can feed off this reaction making it appear that potential crime targets in the public area are under the control of residents.

The Secured by Design advice is delivered by the local Police force. Crime Prevention Design Advisors (CDPAs) or Architectural Liaison Officers work with architects, planners and developers offering advice on designing out crime and key information about local crime to the development. CPDAs identify aspects of building location, design and security specifications that are known to influence crime risk. These features include the concept of defensible space around buildings, natural surveillance by occupiers and some construction features that are actively exploited by criminals and those pursuing anti-social behaviour. This is then blended with high level physical security products.


The principles have been proven to achieve a reduction of crime risk by up to 75%, by combining minimum standards of physical security and well-tested principles of natural surveillance and defensible space.

Nottingham City Homes Secure, Modern and Warm

Nottingham City Homes (NCH), in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, are conducting a two-year impact study on the wider social benefits of the Decent Homes programme (known in Nottingham as Secure, Warm, Modern). The first stage of the research was to conduct a pilot study, which aimed to evaluate the impact of installing secure windows and doors on burglary in NCH properties, and the impact on residents and surrounding communities.

The research focused on the two estates which were amongst the first estates to have an extensive programme of window replacement. All the new windows are double glazed and meet the Secured by Design (SBD) standard. The work programme took place in 2008/09, during which 1,520 properties had their windows replaced out of a total of 1,717 NCH properties on the two estates.

Key findings

The analysis found: Burglary was reduced by 42% across Bells Lane and Broxtowe, compared to a city wide reduction of 21% over the same period. This was also higher than the reduction seen in similar areas (in terms of tenure and demographic profile) in the city, of 38%. NCH properties experienced 62 fewer burglaries per year after the work was completed, compared to 33 fewer burglaries a year to non-NCH properties on the estates

The proportion of burglaries via a window is lower for properties that have had the secure windows fitted. The major change is that the proportion of burglaries that successfully gain entry by forcing the window has halved – going from 30% of burglaries to NCH non-Secure 2 properties, to 15% of burglaries to NCH Secure properties[1].

Glasgow Housing Association adoption of Secured by Design 2004 & Glasgow Caledonian University 2009

Taking responsibility for all social housing in Strathclyde, the GHA has sought to apply Secured by Design across the housing stock. Two evaluations have now supported the contention that crime is reduced – 26% burglary, 61% overall - and tenants feel safer and take a pride in their neighbourhood[2].

Re-evaluating Secured by Design housing in West Yorkshire, Armitage & Monchuk 2009

This survey mirrored the original survey of 1999 and took into account the improvements made in SBD requirements over 10 years. The results were very positive, replicating the earlier results from the 1999 research. That the Secured by Design developments showed a 75% reduction in burglary and a reduction of 25% in criminal damage, compared with non-SBD estates and West Yorkshire as a whole[3].

Securing the Nation: the case for safer homes. Association of British Insurers 2006

Summarises the evidence for Secured by Design, calls for its wider adoption and identifies the benefits to the wider audience, the economy and householders. It provides a per unit cost to developers. Cost is dependent on the pre-existing level to be upgraded but these are mainly confined to physical security upgrades with little or no cost for the environmental design element of SBD. The costs were re-assessed in 2010 by Davis Langdon in the light of significant reductions in unit costs as more tested products have become available since publication.

Product licensing scheme

Secured by Design member company status is awarded to companies producing security products that pass standards and tests nominated by the police service. The standards and related tests must demonstrate the product effectiveness in preventing or reducing crime, usually by resistance to physical attack. Secured by Design does not sell or provide any guarantees in respect of the product; it is the attack test standard that they support. Product categories range from doors, windows, garage doors, forensic trace and asset recovery products, tracking systems, lone worker systems to computer security, safes, shutters & grilles, roofing and anti-graffiti.

Secured by Design Developer Award

The SBD Developers Award is given to building developments which, following consultation with local police Architectural Liaison Officers or Crime Prevention Design Advisors, are built to Secured by Design guidelines and so reduce the opportunity for crime. The ALO/CPDA will consider the factors which can influence crime such as poor natural surveillance, undefined public and private space, secluded parking areas and make suitable recommendation.

Related initiatives

Safer Parking

A sister project to SBD which examines the management and security of public car parking facilities in conjunction with the British Parking Association. Safer parking status, Park Mark®, is awarded to parking facilities that have met the requirements of a risk assessment conducted by the Police. These requirements mean the parking operator has put in place measures that help to deter criminal activity and anti-social behaviour, thereby doing everything they can to prevent crime and reduce the fear of crime in their parking facility[4].

Secured Environments

Secured Environments is a risk management scheme that promotes good security practice in organisations by focusing on strategy, process and people. ACPO Crime Prevention Initiatives in partnership with Perpetuity, one of the country's leading crime and security consultancies and a spin-out from the University of Leicester, have developed the scheme. They assess organisations to see if they have made security an inherent part of how they are managed. If they pass the standard they are certified as being secure by ACPO CPI and awarded the 'Police' Secured Environments Certificate[5].

Secure Stations

The Secure Stations Scheme, which is managed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and British Transport Police (BTP), sets station design and management safety standards for crime reduction at overground and underground railway stations[6].

Safer Tram Award

The Safer Tram Award aims to reduce crime and anti-social behaviours in and around Tram stops, this award is aimed at tram operated rail systems which operate in the UK.

Footnotes and references