CPTED and It’s Benefits – Part 2 – Natural Access Controls

By Steve Wade-Peace of Mind Systems Ltd.

In the last article I discussed what CPTED (Sep-Ted) or Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and introduced the first principal: Natural Surveillance. It is now time to go to the next level which is Natural Access Control.  This is actually a very interesting component of the CPTED principals because this is the one that really brings home the importance of ensuring that our properties or businesses are not broadcasting the wrong cues. It is simply the guidance of people to and from a space using the strategic placement of environmental cues or barriers.

It is important that a property does not have too many entry points. By reduce entry points we eliminate excuses for someone being somewhere where they shouldn’t be.  in essence, ensuring people go where they are supposed to go, and that they have no excuse for being in other areas. By having very clearly laid out and even exaggerated entry ways, those individuals up to no good have no excuse for being in a dark area or lurking around automobiles.

Have a look at the picture below. This is a great example of Natural Access Control at work.

You will notice that the area is clear and that the areas that people should be using are clearly marked. There are clear transitions from Public (the road) to Semi Public (the grass and sidewalks) to the Semi Private (the small bushes) and finally Private (the store itself) If people were to get onto the other side of the area where the bushes are, they are going to look out of place. There is no clear place there for a pedestrian. This is a very effective means of controlling foot traffic around a business. The trees are a cue to stay on the sidewalk and a psychological fence line versus a physical fence. (Notice their spacing and their placement.)


You will also notice that all the landscaping is well kept.  It is important to make sure that any landscaping does not interfere with pedestrian paths or sidewalks.  This can project that the area is in disarray, or that no one is in control of this space. This goes back to the anonymous space principle I discussed in the last article. Anonymous space is usually a starting point for nuisance behavior. It basically means that the area appears not to have anyone in control of it. It lacks maintenance and it has concealment zones.

You will notice in the example below of how this can be applied to either a business or a residence.

In the first picture the landscaping is out of control and the widows are blocked. The grass is uncut. By changing the landscaping and using a two-foot, two-foot, eight foot rule the changes are very evident.  The foliage is a maximum of two feet tall, they should be no closer than two feet to a door or window (this wasn’t the case in the picture) and any trees should be clear trunked to 8 feet.  You will notice the addition of the light on the path to the door. The anonymous space is dramatically reduced and the sightlines from the house to the outside are dramatically increased. This is an example of how effective CPTED can be, when all of the components are used in conjunction with each other. The house has a clear sightline indicating Natural Surveillance, the path is clearly lit and marked to the door indicating Natural Access Control, it appears to have ownership and that it is not easy to sneak up to the door anymore indication Territoriality and is shows that it is has regular maintenance and management.

There is so much more that can be discussed than space allows, so if you would like to know more about this, I encourage you to reach out to our Crime Prevention team through the www.Kamloops.ca website.