A well-lit area with high visibility from the street is a safe one, the city’s police are sharing in their efforts toward crime prevention.
“It’s issues like lighting and sightlines that people want to deal with,” Sgt. Kelly McLean said. “Simple things like hedges that are too high.”
Areas in the city where people are easily able to hide tend to be the places where people “congregate to drink or do drugs. So, we have to see them from the streets.”
Combating these areas of low invisibility, police have taken to preparing Crime Prevention Though Environmental Design (CPTED) reports, which sporadically show up for consideration during city council meetings.
“CPTED is based on a theory that the appropriate design and application of the building and surrounding environment can deter crime and reduce fear of crime,” the latest batch of reports reads.
In addition to preventing crime through environmental design, the reports single out areas that may become a problem in other respects.
“Even things like where there are bushes that collect litter because they collect garbage in the wind,” McLean explained.
During this month’s batch of city council meetings, two areas of the city were singled out by CPTED reports, including the High Noon Optimist Park and the Girl Guides Hall.
During the meetings, Coun. Ted Zurakowski pushed hard for changes to the High Noon Optimist Park, which is located in his ward.
“Here’s a situation where we have a public park in our community where users of the park feel unsafe, or at least uncomfortable using that park,” he said.
“It strikes me as we discuss approving renovations for our buildings and our roofs that we own, I think we need to take some care and attention of the parks.”
The city’s elected officials agreed to abide by all of the CPTED report’s recommendations, including the pruning of trees that provide too much privacy, and the installation of more lights.
CPTED is based on a theory that the appropriate design and application of the building and surrounding environment can deter crime and reduce fear of crime. - Prince Albert Police Service
“There’s way too much privacy, and we in fact cannot see the park during the daytime or the nighttime,” Zurakowski noted.
The pruning is likely to take place this year. During the Aug. 7 executive committee meeting Zurakowski reluctantly agreed to delay the installation of lights until after 2013 budget deliberations, due to a lack of funding within this year’s budget.
At the Girl Guides Hall, numerous visibility issues were noted, including a lack of lighting and foliage sheltering unwanted behaviour, such as what one resident noted to be youth congregating in the area late at night.
With responsibility divided between the city, which owns the property, and the Girl Guides organization, all CPTED recommendations will be heeded in this situation, as well, city administration confirmed on Monday.
CPTED reports are prepared by the Prince Albert Police Service in response to complaints from residents, either to the city’s elected officials or bylaw enforcement officers.
McLean said that anyone with concerns related to an area of the city should phone the city police’s non-emergency line at 953-4222.
Those interested in taking a more proactive approach can have their property visited by CPTED professionals prior to its development, to ensure it’s designed in a manner that doesn’t foster unwanted activity, are also encouraged to call.
During this month’s round of council meetings, the city’s elected officials placed CPTED reports as a priority within next year’s budget. A report will be provided prior to budget deliberations, complete with police statistical data regarding areas of the city that receive the most police attention.