Australian Institute of Criminology

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Step 2: Conducting a site analysis

Based on the information gleaned from reviewing crime data, a site analysis should then be conducted. A detailed site analysis of the area being considered for the public space CCTV system will highlight various factors contributing to crime in the area and will provide insight into the potential effectiveness of a CCTV system.

Community safety audits are a common form of site audit that are conducted in locations across Australia. These audits generally involve crime prevention specialists (ie police, local government personnel) and community members walking through a location and recording their observations. Day and night audits are conducted to identify any environmental factors contributing to crime. Comprehensive audits consider the social and demographic characteristics of an area, the land use, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, the adequacy of services in the area to cater for the local population (both resident and transient) and the views of users of, and visitors to the area. Surveying users and visitors can determine if there are areas that are perceived to be less safe, what impact CCTV cameras might have on these perceptions and how different groups within the community experience the area.

Conducting a comprehensive site audit allows for identification of relationships between crime problems, environmental design, social and demographic factors and public space management, and helps inform decisions about potential treatments.

By conducting a site analysis and highlighting recommended treatments, a public space CCTV system can be considered within an overall plan to prevent crime in the area.

Approaches to a site audit

There are different approaches to conducting a community safety audit (or equivalent). Some approaches are comprehensive, requiring training for audit participants and involving numerous audits over an extended period. Surveys of visitors and users of the area augment crime and demographic data analysis. Other audit methodologies adopt a more modest regime and focus on easily remedied issues such as improving natural surveillance and improving the maintenance of the area.

The European Forum for Urban Safety (2007) has published a comprehensive report on community safety audits called Guidance on Local Safety Audits—A Compendium of International Practice. The Queensland Police Service also provides simple resources to help conduct a community safety audit.