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Mayor's Hope Journal

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  • Crime prevention through design
    [Mayor Park Won Soon’s Hope Journal 113]

  • SMG 1324

    In 2010, I had the opportunity to stay for three months in the United Kingdom. As I was exploring cases of social innovation, I came across an idea of crime prevention through environmental design. Professor Lorraine Gamman at St. Martin’s College of Art told me about Design Against Crime, a program carried out based on research on criminals’ psychology and behavioral patterns.

    One of the examples she gave me was to change the lights in a toilet to fluorescent lights. The bluish white light of the fluorescent fixture makes it difficult to find veins, thereby making drug injection impossible.

    I thought it was a good idea. After I became mayor of Seoul, I decided to put into practice the idea of crime prevention through environmental design in two places: Yeomri-dong, Mapo-gu and Gongjin Middle School in Gangseo-gu.

    < Yeomri-dong, Mapo-gu >
    – A 1.7km-long crime-infested back alley turned into a community space for sports lovers (named “Salt Way”)
    – Six houses designated as Salt Way Watchers (identified with easily noticeable yellow gates and equipped with emergency bells and Internet protocol cameras)
    – Walls or fences of houses painted with bright-colored paint and with pretty pictures hung with the participation of 30 households
    < Gongjin Middle School in Gangseo-gu >
    – Installation of cameras aimed at monitoring students’ activities (different from surveillance cameras)
    – “Stress zero zones” formed in several areas deemed to be crime-infested areas
    – Application of color therapy to walls of corridors and stairs with the help of the country’s leading art designers
    According to a survey carried out recently by the Korean Institute of Criminology, the back alley in Yeomri-dong, Mapo-gu, which people used to avoid at night, showed a drastic change. The rate of crime and the level of fear felt by people decreased by 9.1% and 13.6%, respectively, in five months. At least 13.8% of the people said they have come to love the neighborhood more. In particular, the people there pegged the crime prevention effects of the 1.7km-long Salt Way at 78.6% and 83.3%, and they expressed satisfaction with such.

    As for Gongjin Middle School in Gangseo-gu where many students come from low-income families and education welfare indices remained low, a survey showed that the level of disorder among students and their fear of being exposed to crimes decreased by 7.4% and 3.7%, respectively, whereas 1.4% of the students said they have come to love their school life more. In fact, 27.8% showed greater attachment to school facilities than before.

    Buoyed by the positive results, Seoul City plans to operate similar programs aimed at lowering the crime rate by designating three places (Myeonmok 4/7-dong, Jungrang-gu, Haengun-dong, Gwanak-gu, and Yongsan 2ga-dong, Yongsan-gu). We will expand the scope to parks, protection of women, and overall urban safety.

    We also plan to launch the Crime Prevention Design Committee consisting of 14 experts, including criminal/behavioral psychologists, Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) experts, police officers, and community designers with a view to making Seoul a safer place to live in for its citizens. Professor Lorraine Gamman paid a visit to Seoul and noted that Seoul City’s CPTED programs carried out with the participation of the people are more advanced than those operated in the United Kingdom. She promised to have an article concerning this published in an international journal.

    Seoul City is making an international model for crime prevention through environmental design.

    Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon after signing the agreement for crime prevention efforts with the prosecution