CPTED Part 3: Territorial Reinforcement and Maintenance

By Kevin Whaley, CPP, Sr. Security Consultant at Kenton Brothers

Welcome to Part 3 of our discussion about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).

In Part 1, I introduced the concept of CPTED and the importance of ensuring CPTED principles are considered when developing or enhancing your security program. In Part 2, we dove into greater detail on the concepts of Natural Surveillance & Natural Access Control. In Part 3 of the series, we will be looking at Territorial Reinforcement and Maintenance.

As a quick recap: in the first part, we touched on the four key overlapping concepts of CPTED which include:
  1. Natural Surveillance
  2. Natural Access Control
  3. Territorial Reinforcement
  4. Maintenance
In the second installment, we went into greater detail about the in’s & out’s of Natural Surveillance & Natural Access Control such as;
  • Natural Surveillance – the placement of physical features, activities and people in a way that maximized visibility from the surrounding environment.
    • WHY? It increases the threat of apprehension by taking steps to increase the perception that people can be seen.
  • Natural Access Control – Natural access control means controlling access to a site. People are physically guided through a space by the strategic design of streets, sidewalks, building entrances, and landscaping.
    • Clearly defines entryways and guides personnel to specific entrances that are well lit and overlooked by surrounding areas.
Just as a reminder, the overall goal in the successful implementation a CPTED plan of action, we must understand that all human space:
  • Has some designated purpose.
  • Has social, cultural, legal, or physical definitions (such as expectations or regulations) that prescribe the desired and acceptable behaviors.
  • Is designed to support and control the desired and acceptable behaviors.
With that understanding in mind, our approach should focus on:
  • Manipulating the physical environment to produce behavior effects that reduce the fear and incidence of certain types of criminal acts;
  • Understanding and modifying people’s behavior in relation to their physical environment
  • Redesigning space or using it differently to encourage desirable behaviors and discourage illegitimate activities; and
  • Reducing the conflicts between incompatible building users and building uses, with the goal of eliminating “no person’s land” that no one takes ownership of.

There are various controls that can be implemented that can supplement or support the approaches listed above.

CPTED Part 3: Territorial Reinforcement and Maintenance

Territorial Reinforcement and Maintenance of your CPTED program.

Territorial Reinforcement:

Territorial reinforcement involves establishing a sense of ownership and belonging in a specific space, which can be achieved through various design elements and strategies. When a space appears to be clearly defined and “owned” by a particular group or individual, it may discourage potential criminals by making them feel like trespassers or intruders and that the potential for detection is high.

Importance in CPTED: By implementing territorial reinforcement, CPTED aims to deter criminal activity by promoting the perception of active ownership and surveillance. A well-defined and cared-for area signals to potential offenders that their presence is likely to be noticed and that there is a higher risk of detection and apprehension. This may lead to a decrease in the opportunities for criminal acts to occur, as criminals tend to avoid spaces where they feel more vulnerable and exposed.

Examples of Territorial Reinforcement:
  1. Clear boundaries and property lines demarcated with fences, hedges, or other physical barriers.
  2. Well-maintained landscaping and exterior areas, indicating active use and care.
  3. Signage and symbols that represent community ownership or surveillance, such as neighborhood watch signs.
CPTED Part 3: Territorial Reinforcement and MaintenanceThese examples of territorial reinforcement can (and should be) enhanced with other physical security measures including but not limited to:
  1. Surveillance cameras
  2. Speakers with pre-recorded messages stating that the person is being watched or that authorities have been called.
  3. Sufficient illumination
  4. Security officers
  5. Access Controls
  6. Active/Passive intrusion sensors

However, no matter how advanced or intricate your CPTED program is, it can deteriorate and become obsolete without proper care and maintenance.

CPTED Maintenance:

CPTED maintenance involves sustaining a sense of ownership and control over a space through ongoing upkeep and community involvement. Neglected or poorly maintained areas can attract criminal activity as they signal a lack of guardianship and a reduced risk of detection.

Importance in CPTED: Regular maintenance of public and private spaces is critical to the success of CPTED. Well-maintained environments foster a sense of pride, ownership, and responsibility among community members. It reinforces the idea that residents are actively invested in their surroundings and are vigilant against criminal behavior. This collective effort makes it less attractive for criminals to target such areas, as they are more likely to be noticed and reported by the community.

Examples of Territorial Maintenance:
  • Prompt repair of broken windows, damaged fences, or graffiti.
  • Adequate lighting to ensure visibility and reduce hiding spots.
  • Community engagement and participation in the upkeep of shared spaces.

CPTED Part 3: Territorial Reinforcement and Maintenance


The image to the right is an example of POOR CPTED maintenance. As you can see, the vegetation is growing through the fence line, damaging it significantly and there are various areas where intruders have cut and recut through the fence line. The lack of prompt repair, landscaping maintenance, and lack of illumination, make this industrial facility a tempting target.

In conclusion, territorial reinforcement and maintenance are essential components of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. By creating a sense of ownership and responsibility within a community and ensuring that spaces are well-cared for, CPTED aims to discourage criminal activity and promote a safer environment for residents and visitors alike. These proactive measures empower communities to take control of their surroundings and play an active role in crime prevention.

I hope you will watch out for the final installment where we will review the concepts we’ve discussed and how they all can be tied together.

Have more questions about CPTED or would like an assessment? Give us a call at 816-842-3700 and our board certified security professionals will get you taken care of!

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