Growing Crime Rates Following Rapid Urbanization and Subsequent Collapse of Community.
The city of Seoul has grown from one of the world’s poorest cities to the 21st biggest city in GDP in a span of 60 years, creating in the process the “Miracle on the Han River” legacy. The rapid urban modernization, however, accompanied a host of serious social issues, including dissolving senses of community, high crime rates, polarization. Of these, ‘safety from crime’ is an important value which should be given top priority, for it is directly related to the quality of the lives of Seoul citizens. However, Korea’s homicide rate is 2.2 per 100,000 people, exceeding the OECD average of 2.16 and ranking ninth among the 29 OECD members. The nation’s sex assault and theft rates were nearly double the OECD averages.
Possible Reduction of Social Costs Through Application of CPTED.
According to a study by the Korean Institute of Criminology (KIC), of the five leading crime types, theft and violence make up 95%, and most of these crimes are triggered by environmental factors brought on by poor physical surroundings. The study also states that 62% of these two crime categories take place on streets and other public places. Which means, among other things, if the poor environmental conditions of public places improve, not only the rates of the two major crime types would drop but also about an amount of KRW20 trillion would be saved every year, an estimated social cost inflicted by crime on Korean society as a whole.
Because of these possibilities, the city of Seoul has analyzed the on-going issues facing its municipal sections and strived to effectively deal with them through application of environmental design. Of 161 sections designated by policy as crime hot spots, sections ideal for the CPTED project have been selected based on crime data provided by the police and applications were sent out to respective district offices; an initial screening of submitted applications was carried out, its decision based on the environmental condition in which the applying sections were, the possibility of utilizing community resources, the feasibility of applying a “fusionistic” design methodology, and the willingness of district offices to take part in the project; the second and final screening was conducted through visitation of the sections. Having launched its first CPTED Project in 2012, the city of Seoul has directly overseen a total of five types of the Project involving five municipal sections and provided consulting service to nine programs involving CPTED. The city has developed and applied various crime preventive environmental design features to the five sections in accordance with each of their own social issues such as a delayed redevelopment contributing to rapid “slumnization”, a large rundown traditional marketplace notorious for its high rate of theft, a high concentration of single women living a constant threat of sexual crime, and a large population of non-Korean-speaking foreigners exposed to threats of violence. The CPTED-involving programs the city has developed are being benchmarked or replicated by other local governments and regional police agencies.
The city of Seoul has set up and pushed the CPTED policy on its own.
On April 2012, despite various anti-crime measures pursued by the central government, the nation was gripped by a violent crime involving a young woman who was kidnapped near a residential area on her way home after work late at night and later found strangled and cut into pieces. Aware of the social milieu of the time in which no one would have come to her rescue even if she had screamed for help and of the fact that ubiquitous CCTVs were only good for chasing after a suspect, the city of Seoul started to explore ways to prevent crime and has developed its CPTED policy.
Main goals and Project Direction.
Through its CPTED policy, the city of Seoul aims to create a new paradigm for anti-crime policies, reduce social costs, and enhance the quality of the lives of citizens through use of environmental design in high crime areas with the intention of deterring criminal behavior and revitalization of the spirit of community.
- Application of crime preventive design – to prevent crime by deterring criminal intentions
- Community revitalization –make community part and parcel of the Project as it is community members who should safeguard their safety
- Create a consortium of citizens, government, business, and academy – implement the Project in link with its diverse municipal projects and involve private businesses
Forming a consortium of citizens, government, business, and academy for the purpose of solving problems in a unified manner.
Since it includes the service design methodology, a contrast to previous methods of implementing policies, the CPTED Project has been carried out in a consortium of citizens, government, business, and academy from the beginning.
a. form a structure of governance comprising experts, research instates, citizens, city employees
b. Offer opportunities for citizens to participate in diverse manners and make suggestions
c. Pursue maximum project effects through formation of an efficient system of cooperating with citizens
- Select areas ideal for project implementationin consultation with police and crime prevention-oriented organizations.
- Analyze current issues and problems based on opinions of community members.
- Suggest solutions derived at through involvement of environmental designers, crime prevention experts, and community members.
- Implement solutions: construct design features with approval from community members.
- Evaluate and feedback: evaluates the effects of programs before and after through crime research institutions.
In order to develop different solutions for diverse cities with the same issues, the City has cultivated close ties with overseas CPTED research institutions, formed MOUs for objective evaluation with anti-crime policy research institutions, and continued to share know-how with CPTED centers in the U.K., the U.S., and Australia.
The City also has applied technically innovative methods to its CPTED Project: such crime prevention tools that had been installed but failed to deliver their intended purposes as emergency bells and CCTVs have been made more visible and sure to function properly; their use and locations have been made known to community members through safety education; and existing fixtures such as phone booths and convenience stores have been modified with safe house features and crime watch systems at a relatively little cost. These methods can easily be adopted by developing countries or other cities experiencing similar problems as those facing the City. Moreover, it is crucial that these methods be applied together with community programs that are in tune with the cultures and emotions of peoples facing the problems. Sure of their effectiveness and novelty, the City has secured patent rights on the Active Design Safety Module that can be attached to telephone poles, the Stand-along Warning System and the Safety House Module developed for an area with a high concentration of studio apartments, and way-finding systems using gobo lights. Use of these inventions is being expanded to other public places.
The City is in the process of applying its crime preventive design to various conventional crime prevention devises by compiling and analyzing safety-related information derived from the criminal statistics of the police agency and the CCTVs, security lights, emergency bells, and community watch programs that are operated and managed by regional governments.
Creativity and Innovation
The CPTED Project is unique in that it applies the service design methodology to municipal administration, prevents crime through use of the concept of design, and seeks to improve the quality of the lives of community members through community revitalization, a software rather than hardware concept. The list of its uniqueness goes on: it secures its sustainability through adoption of the concept of involving community members in crime prevention; it has brought about a shift in the paradigm of governing. The service design methodology is excellent for solving social problems and discovering new opportunity as it seeks inductive solutions through involvement of people of diverse interests and application of contextual research of social problems.
In implementing the CPTED Project, the City has fused the concept of design into the basic CPTED theory and thus expanded the theory’s boundaries. The end results of crime preventive design ideas not only have brought about improvements in the environment in which they are placed, but also are products embodying the community spirit people have redeveloped through their voluntary participations in community activities supporting the Project.
Moreover, the Project has been highly praised for being the world’s first case to be applied to old rather than new sections, and for having contributed to revitalizing crumbling old sections by helping the people convert dead spaces into places to gather and socialize and thus eliminate crime-feeding sources.
Eschewing the existing CCTV-centered policy of dealing with post-crime measures and instead emphasizing the concept of “eyes of the street”, the Project has focused on leading community members towards acknowledging and doing something about their community problems through creation of community spaces and safe houses so that they could stop relying solely on the police but instead realize the power of community watch.
Execution and Implementation
Reducing crime-related social costs through modification of the crime policy from a countermeasure to preventive outlook.
It is a fact that countless crimes have been committed under the anonymity of cities that have lost the sense of community. Even CCTVs in which we have a blind faith are only useful for chasing after suspects after crimes have taken place. 95% of the crimes being committed in the city of Seoul are found to be mostly theft- and violence-related and owe their occurrence to the built environmental factors that invite crime. Of these two crime categories, 62% takes place on streets and other public places, while 41% happens at night between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. As these data imply, by improving such built environmental factors that invite crime as dark allies and other blind spots, making plain the existence of community, and thus deterring criminal intentions, the City seeks to prevent crime and reduce crime-related social costs (estimated to be KRW 20 trillion every year.) In addition, expansion of such activities over the world is the ultimate purpose of the Project.
Reducing crime rates through rather revitalization of old city sections than development of new towns.
The City has developed diverse and sustainable programs, rather than new towns which cost a great deal of money and time, by adopting a modification method gained through development of a variety of crime preventive designs to the physical characteristics of surroundings.
Laying a community foundation not for but together with community members.
Creating jobs and thus strengthening community economies, keeping the surrounding environment, and building community watch facilities are important for preventing crime. But the most effective crime prevention is the action of each community member cultivating the environment in which he/she is as the base of his/her life in a sustainable manner and thereby building trust in one another. Through the process of developing ideas for crime preventive design together with community members, the City could get a better understanding of what each community is capable of in terms of physical and human resources, and through this understanding, help develop and nurture the identity of community, and help the community look out for itself.
Helping restore the lost sense of community
As cities threw out their unique physical characteristics one by one on their headlong drives towards urbanization, and as their residents began to see their houses not as the place of settlement but as a means of self-enrichment, the sense of community that once held villages and cities together and safe started to crumble as well. Meanwhile, old city sections laying victim of the stampede of redevelopment began to see a steady inflow of old and sick people living alone, the handicapped, foreign workers, migrant day laborers, along with rising crime rates. As in the Yeonni-dong case, community members took on an offer the City provided, turned it into a change to act together with a common goal, and has since developed various community programs. Moreover, they have regained the lost sense of community, caring for less-fortunate neighbors with the produce they farmed in the community garden, and sharing the profits and wisdom of community, which can be described as a form of virtuous cycle.
Stakeholders and participants
The City has spared no efforts to solve problems together with as many people related to the Project as possible. By gathering people and officials representing communities, organizations, schools, the police, district and section offices in the areas selected for implementation of the Project, talking about and analyzing with them diverse issues facing the areas, the City has sought for innovative ways to tackle the issues.
In the Yeomni-dong case, for example, through a number of discussions with people and official representing the community center of the section and the district office and police station in charge of the section, the City got a better grasp of the types of crimes plaguing the Project area and measured the feasibility of implementing Project programs in a sustainable manner; listened to their views on the programs to be implemented, discussed about administrative factors to consider in case the programs need modifications; and informed of difficulties the police face in dealing with the crimes and of ways to receive police support in an efficient and effective manner. Specifically, through a public hearing held at a local church, the City explained to community members about the Project, the designs features and programs it had developed for the area, and the timetable for implementation of the programs. Another hearing was held at a local elementary school at which parents were informed of the Project, programs and timetable and given by the police an instruction on how to avoid and protect themselves from the types of crime afflicting the area. Of note, the detailed information the City gathered through these meetings about renters and house owners in the area and their locations proved crucial to the City’s draft of programs agreeable to community members with conflicting interests.
Cooperating with various organizations.
The City has actively involved itself in any opportunities through which it could create synergy for the Project together with NGOs, co-ops, private businesses. In addition, eschewing the old practice of doing business on its way, the City has sought cooperation with its municipal districts whenever possible and given its consulting support to other divisions interested in carrying out their own CPTED programs.
Securing new funding sources and utilizing the superior technical ability of private businesses.
The City has contributed to society by developing in cooperation with private businesses solutions that suit target Project areas and reflects the characteristics of the businesses involved. A partial list of the business sponsors of the Project is as follows:
- Samhwa Paints supplying all paint for community art and other related programs;
- POSCO C&C providing steel materials for all steel structures built for the programs as well as volunteers for community art programs;
- KT Linkus equipping its public phone booths with safety features as emergency shelter;
- ADT Caps offering a security system ideal for single women at less than US$10 and developing an anti-theft “media art” for traditional marketplaces;
- Korea Seven modifying its 7-Eleven stores into a 24-hour “safe house”; and
- Samsung funded the remodeling of abandoned structures into modern community centers.
All these corporate sponsorships amounted to about KRW 440 million.
Skill donations by experts and their volunteering.
As for skill donations, Korea’s eight leading artists donated their consulting service on community art programs; the Department of Psychology at Baekseok University offered counseling service for students of a junior high school afflicted by juvenile crimes and societal neglect; and a total of 300 some students, teachers, and parents volunteered their time and effort to help carry out community art programs.
Volunteering by local church, schools and local businesses.
The City has sought to maximize the effect of Project programs through active use of local resources. With cooperation from local church officials, a community watch group has been formed, making regular rounds of their community after every Wednesday and Sunday service, picking trash along the main alley and reminding passers-by as well as community members of their presence and purposes. Local design high school and elementary school are active in helping make their neighborhoods clean and fun through their participation of diverse local events. Teachers and students of an art high school regularly volunteer their time to paint alley gates brightly in an effort to mask blind spots dotting their school neighborhood known for its concentration of one room housing. A local café provides a space for community members to gather and shares community news through a podcast service
The Project’s leading programs that have been appraised by the media as success are as follows: The Yeomni-dong case.
Turning a scary alley into a fitness circuit/community space.
The most remarkable transformation about high-crime area has taken place on “Salt Way”, a 1.7 km-long chain of uphill allies. What used to be a dark alley even nearby residents feared to venture at night has been turned into a fitness circuit, with exercise stations interspersed at regular intervals. The surrounding area had been devoid of any amenity for exercising, let alone cultural activity. The fitness circuit, comprising A and courses, has been developed by professional physical trainers to the characteristics of the surroundings. The new alleyway also features an information board showing a map with numbers indicating houses along the alley, and LED lights with numbers from 1 to 69, indicating the houses and informing passers-by of their locations in case of making calls for help.
Equipping “Safe Houses” with anti-crime features.
In addition to exercise stations and blight lights, along Salt Way there are six “safe houses”, each equipped IP camera and emergency bell and marked with a yellow gate. The residents of the safe houses are well trained by the police as to what to do when the bell is pushed by someone in need of help. The well-lit yellow gates are very visible at night and the cameras are regularly maintained. The idea of the safe house was suggested by community members living near blind spots.
Post-program evaluations through the Korea Institute of Criminology.
The Korea Institute of Criminology is in charge of analyzes the impact of CPTED programs on community members’ fears of the danger of crimes afflicting their communities. To see if the City’s CPTED programs have any impact on crime rates in the target areas, KIC traces back the crime rates to a minimum 3-4 years based on the National Policy Agency’s crime statistics.
Findings of an evaluation analysis (March 2013, five months after Project launch).
KIC found out through a survey of community members of Yeomni-dong that 78.6% of the respondents said they were aware of the effects of the programs, and of the figure, 83.3% reported satisfactory of the effects. As for their fear of crime, 9.1% of the respondents indicated a decrease as individuals and 13.6% indicated a decrease for their families, while 13.8% said their community attachment grew over the time.
Findings of an evaluation after one year (April 2014).
The second KIC survey conducted one year after the launch of the Project found that the rate of five leading crime types decreased over the year, and that the robbery rate on Salt Way alone has dropped12% and a zero case of rape was reported.
Overseas recognitions .
The City’s CPTED Project was introduced to the global community of CPTED in October 2012 through the international CPTED seminar held in Seoul, and acclaimed in the June issue of Crime Prevention & Community Safety, as the world’s first CPTED case applied to old city sections.
Project impact on crime rates to be confirmed in 2017.
The effect of all CPTED programs on their respective community members is analyzed and evaluated every year, and concrete findings regarding their impact on crime rates are scheduled to be made public in 2017.
Main difficulties: cooperation with related institutions and development of innovative ideas of innovate crime preventive design.
A key to successful operation of Project programs was formation of cooperative ties with various institutions. As they have their own agendas and priorities that are often at odd with one another, however, nurturing relationships that are mutually beneficial to one another was a real challenge. In addition, developing innovative crime preventive design ideas that would appeal to all stakeholders proved to be another challenge. Following are steps the City have taken towards overcoming the two main challenges:
Solution method 1: perseverance in dialogue and persuasion.
The City conducted a number of face-to-face conversations with people and officials representing target Project areas and related institutions and managed to convince each group that the Project was mutually beneficial.
Solution method 2: Developing design ideas together with stakeholders.
During an initial research process the City broke down diverse city crimes into type, hour, and location with help from police, education offices, district governments and other institutions, and analyzed the thus derived information using the Global Information System in order to identify the characteristics of the target areas. As for developing design ideas, service design methodology has been used. Service design methodology is a way of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between service providers and customers. By applying the method of getting results based on the multidirectional analysis of data gathered through an in-depth research conducted by experts of diverse fields sharing the common goal of solving one problem, the City has developed design ideas for Project programs.
Impact and Benefits
Reductions in crimes reported and in fear of the danger of crime.
Security is one of the most basic ingredients for cities to ensure the quality lives of their citizens and stay economically competitive. The City’s CPTED Project is designed to help citizens alleviate their fear of the danger of crime and, taking a further step, fight crime by listening to their opinions and meeting their needs.
Yeomni-dong saw a drop in the number of crimes reported soon after the implementation of CPTED programs, and among households with children, the fear for their children has dropped more (13.6%) than the fear for themselves (9.1%). The level of satisfaction was particularly high among women, which was attributed to the remodeling of Salt Way: community adults and children, attracted to the exercise equipment and the traditional street game diagrams marked on the pavement, have become “public eyes on the street.”
People of Hangwoon-dong, an area known for its highest concentration of women aged between 20 and 30 as well as for its high rate of sexual crime, responded favorably to the installation by the City of reflective mirrors, emergency bells, warning lights, LED lamps and other safety modules and the application of mirror sheets to many of the glass entrance doors of one-room housing units dotting the area. In addition to the hardware part, a local café has volunteered to serve as a women-only community space and expanded its podcast service to include safety information for women; and local nail and hair shops popular among local high school girls and office ladies have become a conduit passing out the latest in safety-related information provided by the police.
Gongjin Middle School is a small public school with a total student body of 268 sharing 13 classrooms. Surrounded by a 4,409-unit rental-only apartment complex occupied mostly by families on government subsidies, the handicapped, the elderly, the school has consistently ranked the lowest in student welfare index. Aware that the school’s CCTVs served no purpose in deterring bad behavior among students, the City turned the concept of CCTV on its head and placed cameras in eight different blind spots, connecting them to monitors in the classrooms, and informed students that the cameras were not for surveillance but for having fun, to be used as a device through which they could convey their messages to school or fellow students, show off their talent, or simply blow off steam. Moreover, with the help of Korea’s leading artists, students have created graphic works of their choice and taste on hallway walls that had once shown perfunctory displays or school materials. Five months after the introduction of a number of morale-boosting programs, a team of university researchers specializing in student psychology found that the perception of disorder and the fear of school violence among students dropped by 7.4% and 3.7% respectively, while collective efficacy and school attachment grew by 2.3% and 1.4% over the five months. The students’ academic achievements also were found to have improved significantly.
In another area with a high rate of both parents working away from their homes, an “Open Kitchen” program has been introduced to take care of young children until their parents get off work. Caretakers of the children have been selected from a pool of local women in need of jobs, which has been received well by community members.
The CPTED Project has been a breath of fresh air to many as it emphasizes the role of community in securing and maintaining public safety as in the broken window theory.
Transferability and Sustainability
Crime prevention as a sustainable policy.
Among many diverse social issues, the desire to live in a safe environment is one of the basic human values. In order to facilitate the replication of its CPTED programs worldwide, the City has signed agreements to share case studies with Central Saint Martins University of the U.K. and the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. The Palgrave Journal of U.K. has carried an article on the programs under the title of ‘Walking with Park’, highlighting the ready adoptability of the case to developing nations. A Denmark TV station has made a documentary, titled “The Good Design”, on some of the programs for broadcasting in the U.S. and northern Europe.
Lower costs and quicker results than building new towns.
Most of the Project programs can be replicated in any major city with similar conditions as in the City at a reasonable cost and without any technology modification, as almost all social issues the programs address are the most common in developing countries. The active and voluntary participation of community members in the Project programs is the basis for low program budgets. In addition, all the programs do not involve the knowledge of high technology and have been designed to accommodate the participation of citizens and private businesses, they can quickly generate intended results at relatively low costs, making themselves very cost-effective crime prevention programs.
Proven results, benchmarked by others.
The CPTED Project has been covered by the media160 some times. As a way to expand the Project nationwide, the City offers consulting service to any regional or municipal governments interested in benchmarking any one of the CPTED programs, helping them develop solutions to the characteristics of their target areas. Mayor Park of Seoul has recently led the tour of a group of overseas CPTED experts through Yeomni-dong. The Office of Crime Prevention Policy at the Ministry of Justice has created a CPTED index to incentivize local governments into adopting CPTED programs.
Moreover, 4,000 some officials from local and overseas institutions, numbering 192 as of August 2014, have visited the City to benchmark its CPTED programs, many of them already in the process of modifying some of the programs to the opinions of their people and the cultural characteristics of their target areas. Among the overseas institutions are the Bloomberg Philanthropies of the U.S. and United Daily News of Taiwan.
Lessons and Implication
The City has learned many lessons from its face-to-face contacts of citizens existing mostly on the fringe of the main economic stream and through its implementation of a bold policy that attempts to reach the very core of those busy fending for themselves in daily life. For its bold yet sincere endeavor to help them realize that the desire and willingness to work together with one another is all it takes to live in human dignity, the Project is worth its place in the realm of public administration.
Highlighting the importance of developing a common interest that can be shared in daily life.
While surveillance leads to self-weariness, a passion can lead to self-respect. This adage became all the more in the case of Yeomni-dong where the tension of conflicting interest was high over the issue of a redevelopment plan that seemed to have stuck in a tangle of municipal red tape. Facing suspicion and hostility from many of the people in the area, the City persevered in its efforts to engage in dialogue and convince them of the altruistic intention of the Project and thus was able to conducting an in-depth survey of their grievances and desires, including their fear of the danger of the crimes to which they were exposed. Based on the thus gathered information and data, the City developed programs that seemed most conflict-free and started to implement them with approval from and in cooperation with community members, thus creating opportunities for them to meet and work together—for the first time for many—and bury their differences and develop a common interest towards common good.
Developing different solutions for different characteristics of areas.
Another lesson is that developing solutions “customized” to the cultural and physical characteristics of target areas and to the voices of the people there was a key to the success of the programs implemented. The better solutions reflected the needs of people, the more of them took part in the programs.
The amazing power of working in consortium.
The most important lesson of all is the realization of the power that can be generated by a consortium of institutions working together towards a common goal. The CPTED Project has provided that fusion of citizens, civil servants, industry experts, and private businesses into a multi-faceted problem solving body organized in a rational governance structure and armed with an innovative methodology is an excellent approach towards complex social problems as crime prevention.
Salt Way and Salt Dock in Yeomni-dong, the two programs created by the Project, face a limited “life” expectancy, as they are scheduled to be torn down once the planned redevelopment takes place. Although their physical standing will disappear soon, the message they represent will live on in the minds of many: the message that people, living in an area scheduled to be torn down to make room for others and where tomorrow is more fearful than today, have changed their fear into hope as they learnt to care for each other and make the most of they have—also the biggest meaning of the CPTED Project.