Are Malaysians self-conscious about home security or are we all just paranoid?
As crime statistics continue to rise, and the frequency of crimes continue to escalate, so does the “mushrooming” of gated and guarded communities within residential estate developments and new housing schemes. The real question is: Are we truly safe living within such an enclosed and “barricaded” community? Could such secured communities curb or prevent the proliferation of crime? Is safety merely a matter perception or a feeling of false sense of security? Are such protected neighbourhood encouraging more crime instead of arresting crime? What are the implications for national unity when neighbourhood are divided or segregated by walls and fences? What does this mean for our ‘1Malaysia’ spirit?
The proliferation of crime within gated and guarded communities of late have caused us to have doubts or second thoughts regarding the original intent of living within a gated and guarded residence or residential development. Are we truly safe living within such communities when crimes are rampant? Why do we need additional security from police patrols? Is the present security system lax or inadequate? For all intents and purposes, a false sense of security is no better than having no security at all – for all we know security guards could end up committing the crimes themselves – which they are supposed to curb or to guard against! One of the biggest mistakes that we can make is assume that having security guards and CCTV’s are enough to safeguard residences and to deter community crimes. Nevertheless, there are two fundamental aspects or basic factors involved. They are community building and CPTED.
The ‘broken windows’ theory is a criminological theory of the norm settings in a neighbourhood that could lead to the increase of crime. “Broken Windows” comes from the metaphor used to describe the concept that “If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by or pass the unkempt house will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge.” It goes to show that little things do matter, no matter how trivial or insignificant.
If no one in the community cares it gives criminals a better opportunity to target the neighbourhood for their criminal activities. Criminals will most probably find a way to bypass security guards. For instance, most of us in the city may not know our neighbours due to our busy schedules, and this gives a criminal sufficient or ample opportunities to break into homes. Since one does not care enough about one’s neighbours to interfere or one might not even realise that one’s home is being broken into. Also, one does not really know if the person who just walked right into one’s house is a friend or a criminal, or otherwise.
One of the easiest ways to combat this is to engage in community building activities in the neighbourhood. Community building is a field of practices directed toward the creation or enhancement of community among individuals in the neighborhood. In order to build a safe and secure neighbourhood, it is pertinent for neighbours to become “true friends”. Through the unity of genuine friendship and mutual support, criminals will fear entering any neighbourhood.
Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED)
CPTED is a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behaviour through environmental design. CPTED strategies rely upon the ability to influence an offender’s decisions which precede criminal acts. It is an idea of how the design of physical environment plays an important role in the prevention of criminal acts by their behavioural traits. CPTED’s principles of design affect elements of the built environment, ranging from small-scale to the overarching, including building form entire urban neighbourhood and ample opportunity for “eyes on the street”.
What CPTED does is that it provides the typical neighbourhood a sense of ownership to its residents which allows them to be able to observe the neighbourhood for any potiential criminal activities. CPTED is also widely regarded as a more cost effective measure and strategy for local authorities in creating a safe city, ultimately leading towards a sustainable urban environment.
The lack of proper lighting in the neighbourhood is also another co-factor that contributes to crime. Even though the property in question is ‘gated & guarded’, criminals are still able to hide out in “blind spots” which are not well lit and strike when the opportunity arises. The width of a walkway is also another major factor which contributes to snatch thefts. If a walkway is too low or too close to the road, it also exposes residents to potential snatch theft cases or incidences.
A proper guard house has to be built for security guards. These guards will also at some point require some form of protection or a place to keep themselves safe so that they can call the relevant authorities (i.e. police) for assistance if necessary. If a proper guard house is not built, the security guard could potentially be held at knife point and asked to open the barrier for a criminal’s vehicle to pass through.
As a Crime Safety Specialist who is involved in CPTED, we have noticed that unfortunately, most property developers have either not heard of CPTED or have not implemented it. We look forward to working with developers to help implement CPTED in their respective developments as well as neighbourhood to give a sense of confidence to residents. Being a gated and guarded community alone is not enough. As criminals have advanced, we must do the same too. This typical layout or configuration is essentially the first step towards building a safer and more secure neighbourhood as well as residential communities. – HFM
Name : Mr. Shamir Rajadurai
Designation : Crime Safety Specialist