The Crime Prevention Website


In response to a request from one of our Newsletter subscribers I’ve put together my version of the Ten Principles of Crime Prevention. (Often referred to as 'The Ten Commandments' and 'The Ten Golden Rules')

You can use these principles as a sort of check-list to work out ways to reduce or remove the opportunity to commit crime.  Although my crime prevention colleagues will recognise these from their crime prevention courses anybody can use them and they’re very useful for group discussions, such as at Neighbourhood Watch and Home Watch meetings.

Some of the examples I’ve given could fall under more than one heading – see if you can work out which. And don’t forget I’ve just given a few examples for each and there are probably many more you could come up with – if you think of others let me know using Feedback (above)

Before you embark on the list you may first wish to think about the problem itself, because knowledge of why the problem is happening will help you choose the actions you might wish to take.

To help you still further I’ve embedded some links to other pages on this website for further advice

Definition of 'Crime Prevention'

If you need to define 'crime prevention' to someone here's my own definition of the term, which I’ve cobbled together from about a dozen variants on the internet


Here we go......

1. Target hardening

This first principle is exactly what it says.  It means making it physically more difficult to commit the crime, such as:

  • Fitting better, stronger locks to your doors and windows
  • Replacing an ordinary entrance door with one that is certificated to the enhanced security standard of PAS 24 2012
  • Installing a retractable gate behind those vulnerable French doors.
  • Fitting a strong padlock and hasp and staple to the shed door
  • Using a ‘crook lock’ on an older car and fitting a locking petrol cap
  • Using thick laminated glass in shop windows

2. Target Removal

This is about remembering to remove something from risk or from view.  Examples include:

  • Removing items of value from your parked car or putting them out of sight in the boot
  • Putting the car in the garage
  • Putting things like jewellery, money and important documents into an insurance rated fire safe or in a safety deposit box when you go on holiday
  • Removing items of value from view through a downstairs window
  • Not leaving a mobile phone on a table when ordering food and drinks at the bar
  • Not hanging a handbag on the back of a chair in a busy café
  • Not carrying your wallet in a back pocket
  • Growing a climbing shrub over a repeatedly graffitied wall

3. Removing the Means (to Commit Crime)

Criminals often need stuff to commit crime and these are some examples:

  • Being careful not to show others your PIN when using a credit card
  • Keeping passwords hidden
  • Chaining up the wheelie bins and ladders so they can’t be used as a climbing aid to break into your house
  • Not leaving a key in a back door, especially if it has a cat-flap
  • Taking spare car keys with you or securing them in an insurance rated safe
  • Not leaving gardens tools lying around the garden
  • Not lighting elevations of a building that cannot be overlooked by potential witnesses
  • Searching passengers at airports
  • Blocking up the door’s letterplate and using a locking letterbox instead

4. Reducing the Pay-Off

This is about reducing the profit the thief can make from the crime and includes

  • Marking your property in such a way that others will not want to purchase the item from the thief
  • Not buying property you believe or suspect to be stolen
  • Registering your mobile phone on Immobilise
  • Displaying empty boxes in shop windows
  • Using dye alarms in cash carrying cases and dye alarm tags on clothing

5. Access Control

Access control is about preventing the criminal gaining access to the target, which might be a thing, a person or a building.  Here are some examples:

  • Having a 1.8 metre fence around the garden complete with trellis and climbing prickly shrubs and a well locked gate of equal height
  • Making sure you lock your doors and windows
  • Making sure that car doors and windows are locked
  • Adding an access control system to the main entrance of a block of flats
  • Employing a security guard and barrier at the entrance to an industrial estate
  • Putting up gates at the entrances to back alleys that run to the rears of houses

6. Surveillance

Criminals would rather not have their crimes witnessed and you can deter some by:

  • Ensuring that the front hedge is not so high that close approaches to the front of the house can’t be seen from the road or by the neighbours (also known as increasing Informal Surveillance)
  • Employing security officers to patrol an office complex or shopping centre (also known as increasing Formal Surveillance)
  • Installing a monitored CCTV system along a high street or around the home
  • Establishing Neighbourhood Watch or Home Watch in your street
  • Training employees how to challenge strangers in their building or on the site
  • Not filling a shop window up with so many posters that people on the street cannot look in

7. Environmental Change

Environmental change is about improving the condition and appearance of streets and open spaces so that the area has the impression of being looked after by the local inhabitants.  A built environment that is under the control of its residents tends to suffer fewer crimes.  This is achieved by:

  • Gating back alleys that run to the rear of terraced homes to reduce the chance of burglary and theft from the garden and fly-tipping
  • ‘Greening up’ Brownfield and derelict sites
  • Clearing away domestic waste dumped in the street and left in people’s back gardens using skips supplied by the local authority
  • Where it is appropriate increasing the amount of private space by introducing new planting and fencing
  • Cleaning away graffiti within 48 hours
  • Refurbishing old rundown buildings
  • Improving the street lighting

8. Rule Setting

This is about household and commercial discipline (habit setting) and giving clear indications to a potential thief that certain routines are in place to thwart criminal behaviour.  It might also be the display of a sign warning people to do or not to do something. This might include:

  • Agreeing some routines with the family, such as the last person going out of an evening leaves plenty of lights on and makes sure that everything is locked up
  • Informing visitors arriving in an office car park to report to the reception desk and to wear a visitor’s badge during their visit.
  • Displaying a ‘No Cold Caller’ sign or a ‘We do not buy goods at the door’ sign on your door or window
  • Displaying signs such as ‘No Trespassers’, ‘No Access Beyond this Point’ and ‘No Smoking’ etc
  • Many of our Road Signs set rules

9. Increasing the Chances of Being Caught

This principle is similar to Surveillance in some respects, but includes measures specifically intended to track down and catch the criminal

  • Using alarm tags on clothing to trigger an alarm to catch shoplifters
  • Using tracking software in a PC or laptop so that its new location will be covertly signalled to a monitoring station
  • Using tracking devices on vehicles that can discover the vehicle’s location should it be stolen
  • Using appropriate security lighting to illuminate potential thieves
  • Using a smoke (vapour) generating alarm to disorientate intruders who are burgling premises, so that they might be caught inside.
  • Covert CCTV and police observations points set up to obtain evidence
  • Property marking

10. Deflecting Offenders

This last principle is quite varied in its approaches and can include:

  • The use of timer switches to make your home look occupied when you’re away on holiday
  • The use of cardboard cut-out uniformed policemen in shop doorways and cardboard police cars on motorway bridges
  • Referring drug users to drug rehabilitation programmes in order to stop them stealing to fund their habit
  • Running youth diversionary schemes during school holidays
  • Making certain streets ‘one-way’ for vehicles
  • Introducing parking restrictions

Don’t forget, any other examples would be gratefully received – please use Feedback (above)