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Calvin Beckford was born in 1958 in Exeter, Devon, England
He joined the London Metropolitan Police Service in 1978 and after fulfilling a wide variety of policing roles, including a most rewarding three years as the Home Beat in Central and North Acton, became particularly interested in the effectiveness of crime prevention. This was mainly because his role included the investigation of domestic burglaries on his patch, many of which need not have happened if only the occupants had done more to secure their property. In 1987 Calvin was offered the role of Crime Prevention Officer for Acton and then two years later took on the new role of Crime Prevention Design Adviser (CPDA) for the Police Borough of Ealing administering the new police ‘Secured by Design’ initiative amongst other things.
CPDAs specialise in ‘designing out crime’ at the earliest design stage of new building development, which as time and research has proven, is a most effective way to prevent crime. This meant working with planning officers and architects and their clients, which was an early example of the police working in partnership with the local authorities and others to prevent crime.
After learning his ‘trade’ giving crime prevention advice to individual householders and businesses he started to investigate the possibility of introducing simple measures to reduce crime on a larger scale. The first idea came to him when dealing with a very high level of burglary in an area of West Ealing. The area had been built in the 1920s and consisted of many terraces of houses with back alleys. The burglary rates were very high and most were committed from the alleys. Calvin worked with the residents and a local locksmith, Ken Jay of Topgrade Security , and installed some locking steel gates at the entrances to the alleys. This first burglary gating project reduced the burglary rate by 85% in the first year. The success was repeated right across the Borough of Ealing with each project showing huge reductions in burglary. It then spread to Hammersmith, Haringey and Hounslow (where hurricanes hardly ever happen) and eventually, after writing the first guide on the subject, The Alleygaters Guide to Gating Alleys (1992), the project went national resulting in (at the last count) 14 thousand gates being installed, with fantastic reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour.
He next turned his attention to the criminals who use the network of railway lines and tow paths running beside canals and other waterways to burgle houses, with a particular emphasis on new housing development. After writing a paper with colleagues about the problem he approached British Waterways and assisted them in writing Canal Crime under Lock and Quay, which is now the Canal and River Trust.
In 1997 Calvin moved to the Borough of Camden as the sole CPDA and took on some new challenges.
First up was what to do about street drinkers, drug users and prostitutes in the streets and alleyways around Kings Cross. It was here that Calvin noticed how the built environment features, such as recessed doors, accessible basements, alleys and back yards were providing the opportunity for these people to do their thing. So, after much observation and photography, Calvin set about writing a paper identifying practical things to do to clean up the built environment and reduce the effects of drugs and street drinking on the local population. Kings Cross – standing room only was his first paper on the subject, written specifically for a couple of the local Kings Cross councillors (which doesn’t survive) and this was followed by The Recessed Pest which dealt specifically with what to do about recessed doorways.
In 1999 he became one of the founder members of the Designing out Crime Association and from 2003 to 2008 he was one of its Directors. During that time and since Calvin was invited to speak at many security and crime prevention conferences around Europe and the rest of the world.
Then in 2000 came a unique opportunity to work with a former planner from Camden, Mark Whitworth, and Neil Henson, a police sergeant specialising in problem solving (See Problem solving ) on a government funded project to deal with drug dealing and drug use in Soho and Bloomsbury in the West End of London. This gave Calvin the opportunity to further develop the work he’d started in Kings Cross, which resulted in a new paper entitled Crime Opportunity Profiling of Streets or ‘COPS’ as it became better known. Due to the enormous success of this work Calvin was invited to become one of the UK representatives for a European funded project to collect and disseminate good practice models of crime prevention across Europe. The working group chose to take the same title as Calvin’s paper for the resulting book, published by the Building Research Establishment, Crime Opportunity Profiling of Streets ISBN 1 86081 880 3. In effect COPS was and is a very practical guide to help police and others to identify, record and alleviate built environment features that aid the commission of various offences that occur in drug markets.
In 2004 Calvin and his colleague, Heather Alston from Essex Police, were approached by New Scotland Yard to assist a publisher write a crime prevention guide for the public. Home Security – The complete handbook was published by New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd ISBN 1 84330 911 4 in 2005 and became the bestselling book in its category. Although Calvin was approached to rewrite the book quite recently he decided instead to create this website for crime prevention.
In the same year Calvin was invited to become a member of a European Working Group to consider a new European technical document for school security. Although the publication has been delayed he used it as the basis for his work with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) when he wrote Secured by Design Schools 2010 (Since updated)
In 2005 Calvin left Camden and joined ACPO Secured by Design, a police initiative for designing out crime, owned and managed by ACPO. During his five or so years at ACPO Calvin became the main editor of the various guides used by the initiative. The last document he completed for ACPO was SBD Commercial Part 1 Warehouses and Industrial units, a version of which was published in 2015.
In July 2010 Calvin left ACPO to take some time off for himself and to pursue his ambition of creating the most comprehensive crime prevention website ever! After many hundreds of writing hours it was launched on 7th April 2012. Calvin is indebted to his son, Ben, for building and maintaining the site and to his many colleagues in the police and the business world who have helped guide its creation.
Since 2015 Calvin has been providing a security consultancy service for both homeowners and businesses.
Calvin occasionally forgets to lock the car door.