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Addressing Crime Prevention Through Design

Published date
21 May 2019

Research by the Design Against Crime Research Centre (DACRC) addresses crime prevention through design thinking and practice.

Design Against Crime

The Design Against Crime Research Centre (DACRC) works to find design solutions to preventing crime. Outputs include products, resources, conferences, exhibitions, competitions and papers. Their work, which has been recognised by the Sir Misha Black Award (2006), was described by an ARHC Impact case study (2008) as ‘pioneering’ and was shortlisted in the UK Impact Awards (2009).

Design exemplars developed by the Centre include Stop Thief Chairs (2000) with integrated bag hooks automatically protected by sitting on the chairs, exhibited at Don’t Tempt me, the world’s first Design Against Crime Expo in Milan and MOMA; Karrysafe Bags (2002) designed to carry belongings safely, including built in electronic alarms; Grippa Clips (2004 and 2010) under table clips for bag theft prevention; and caMden Bike Stands (2006), designed to reduce bike theft in London.

Underpinning research for key projects was produced at UAL by Professors Lorraine Gamman, Paul Ekblom and Adam Thorpe, and key insights include:

  • understanding user, misuser and abuser behaviours relative to systems of people, products, services and spaces (the contexts of crime events) and the complex relationship between crime opportunities and crime prevention;
  • understanding the role of design in combatting crime and the context dependent nature of ‘what works’ in crime prevention; understanding the role of visualisation in crime prevention;
  • and prototyping design interventions that are tested and evaluated in real situations.


The Centre’s research has benefited the design community, public bodies and industry, and since 2008 work has been undertaken with clients including:

  • Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI)
  • National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO)
  • LINK
  • NCR
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Transport for London
  • Local councils on projects ranging from tackling ATM crime to shoplifting

Work has been undertaken with six Metropolitan Police boroughs and five other police forces, plus the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and with partners including Broxap, Design Council, Designing Out Crime Association (DOCA) and Design and Technology Alliance Against Crime (Home Office).


The Centre’s design benchmarks have brought the concept of design against crime into the public domain, with broad media coverage, as well as gaining support within business and professional communities at numerous conferences and partnerships promoting design against crime as a tool. Research has informed the understanding of policymakers, public bodies and professionals.

For example, in May 2008, Boris Johnson said:

“The caMden stand is a great example of the type of innovative solution to crime that can be made reality given the right support”.

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