Swansea youth are tackling crime through design
Research suggests that if designers create products, services and environments that factor security into their work, and make them visually pleasing, then they can reduce crime. A new project used this philosophy to ask the question: Can the design of public spaces actually serve to reduce crime?
The project sought to discover what 14-19 year olds think about crime and public order in the Swansea area. Through workshops, young people worked with designers to tackle the issue of anti-social behaviour in public spaces. Rather than imposing solutions upon young people, the workshops employed proven creative thinking tools to encourage them to generate and articulate their own innovative ideas.
The project worked with groups from Ysgol Maesydderwen in Ystradgynlais and youth groups from the Castle Ward area of Swansea. Young people were recruited from schools, churches, scout/cadet groups, other community youth schemes and more, in order to gather a wide cross section of 14-19 year olds to participate in the workshops.
The leader of the project, Dr Ian Walsh is the Head of the School of Industrial Design at Swansea Metropolitan University. He has over 20 years experience as a designer and design educator. He said:
‘Crime and the fear of crime is a major concern. Rightly or wrongly young people are seen as core causes of public nuisance and anti-social behaviour. In the search for solutions or preventions, young people are excluded from the decision making process. This often results in poorly designed public spaces which fail to meet the needs of our young people. The consequences of this can be seen in the clustering of young people in spaces that are inappropriate for their needs. This can lead to an increase in reported anti-social behaviour and an increase in the ‘fear’ of crime.’
‘14-19 year olds represent a dynamic force for change and creativity. By engaging with them, and facilitating their engagement with those responsible for shaping future spaces, this project aimed to build the young people’s confidence and enhance understanding amongst the professionals and academics.’
One of the main advantages of this scheme is that the findings from these workshops are going to be used to inform academics, architects and practitioners in the field of reducing crime through design. By engaging with the future inhabitants of Swansea’s public spaces the team unlocked new understanding about how young people view those spaces and the role they play.
As Dr Ian Walsh explains:
‘Only by fully engaging with young people will designers and architects understand how public spaces can and should accommodate their needs and aspirations.’
The project brought together a team of designers, researchers and crime prevention practitioners with years of knowledge and experience of designing for public space. The key partners in the project were the School of Industrial Design at Swansea Metropolitan University, the Design Against Crime Research Centre at the University of the Arts London, South Wales Police Crime Prevention Manager and Ysgol Maesydderwen in Ystradgynlais.
The Design Against Crime Research centre
School of Industrial Design, Swansea Metropolitan University