Sunday, 12 December 2010

Assignment 4: Reading and Reviewing.

 Assignment 4 asked us to look more closely at two of the articles/books we chose in assignment 3 and write in detail about them both. I chose two articles that looked into the area of designing out crime. My first article was "Ghettos Blasted" by John Glenday and my second was "Seeing Is Believing: Notes Toward a Visual Methodology and Manifesto for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design" by Lorraine Gamman and Tim Pascoe. I chose these articles as I found their way of thinking and how they would look into crime prevention interesting.

Assignment 4

The first article I looked at was “Ghettos Blasted” by John Glenday. In this piece he spoke to Miles Watson, founder of Urban Eye, about his campaign to revive downtrodden streets with considered scaleable interventions. He asks the question - isn’t now the time to take a fresh look at our secondary spaces? This article covers all of Watson’s ideas for combating vandalism on the streets, how he would improve them by using art and design rather than installing CCTV cameras and bright lights in a Big Brother type of way.
The most important information in this article is how people are responding to the outlook of the streets just now. Urban Eye took surveys from different cities around the UK and these were the results. 61% of residents would consider taking a taxi rather than walk or cycle through streets covered in graffiti and a whopping 83% would seek to avoid the streets altogether. There is sometimes an exception and graffiti can be considered as art, but only when enough time and effort has been put into it. No one will consider a spray painted wall that has taken barely 5 minutes to do as art. People respond to the work that Urban Eye has done because they take a lot longer and more artistic energy has been put into the pieces.
The charity has looked at James Wilson and George Kelling’s “Broken Windows Theory” and have taken that into account when creating their installations on the streets. They look to create pieces that will discourage vandalism. Some graffiti is inspiring, for example Banksy’s pieces are individual and creative, if more graffiti had the same qualities as Banksy’s work then it may be considered as art. Its all about discovering the fine line between art and vandalism. Watson states - “Graffiti artists are sheep, they’re not people with original ideas. Making that first move requires more.”
Watson comes to the conclusion that improving how an environment looks is much better than controlling what happens within that environment. Basically there’s a better chance of decreasing vandalism by putting up art installations like brightly coloured mosaics to discourage graffiti than to install CCTV as they are more likely to respond badly to the CCTV. Vandals will most likely increase the amount of graffiti they do around the area as it gives them more of a thrill. Miles Watson puts across the idea that a negotiated environment is better to one that is regulated as it places responsibility into the hands of people who are well able to live up to that.
The main point of view presented in this article is that good civic design is about responding to context, not to the general fix. Developing different approaches to crime prevention within an area is better than to just roll out one idea across a city. The idea of fighting vandalism with art installations is more likely to work than just painting over the graffiti, it just creates a blank canvas for them to start again, and once one tag appears then another will follow and so on. By engaging with a community and giving them an input in their local environments Urban Eye believe they can help reduce crime and vandalism in an area

The second article that I read was from Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal, and was written by Lorraine Gamman and Tim Pascoe. The article is based on The Designing Out Crime Association and their thoughts towards a visual methodology: to offer a manifesto for practitioners. So far members of the association have expressed some disappointment that there isn’t much visual evidence of practice-based crime prevention work referred to in their recent debates. They believe that greater emphasis on visual communication will help make the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design case.
The most important information in this article is the documented facts from successful or unsuccessful design so far. This is important to the DOCA as it will help them to improve their designs. For example the “Alleygater” project was presented as a “success story” of crime prevention design, but they had very little visual illustration or assessment of the types of gating. In the photos that were shown in the article they didn’t seem to compliment the housing they were supporting and it was suggested they had a “criminal appearance”. Gamman and Pascoe mention that the gates may have reduced the actual recorded incidents of crime but may also have increased the fear of crime for some residents. This shows that we cannot really know how successful something is unless we have the facts and visual aids. These will help the DOCA to monitor, assess and manage the designing out crime projects.
The writers of this article have come to the conclusion that a visual methodology and a visual archive of designing out crime will help the prevention of crime. The use of visual imagery of before and after design processes may help the success of designing out crime. Without the aid of photographs of previous designs DOCA

Both of the articles make strong and quite different points about crime prevention and how to go about it. Some points are quite contrasting but overall they both aim to prevent crime within an environment. While the first article focuses in on how to discourage the vandalism side of crime within an area the second article looks more into crime prevention in a larger sense. John Glenday talks about Urban Eye and their idea of reviving downtrodden streets with art installations such as ceramic mosaics while also preventing graffiti vandalism. Whereas Gamman and Pascoe look at how gates and walls can prevent crime. They also believe that visual evidence is always an important part to the success of designing out crime. The idea of gates and CCTV in article two contrast with article one’s views on how CCTV and harsh white street lights create an almost prison like atmosphere on the streets and that they can increase the fear of crime. Miles Watson from Urban Eye in article one says “Good civic design is about responding to context, not the general fix”. I believe that the concept put across in article one is better as it involves the communities input and tries to see the best in the people living in an area. It is as though the charity Urban Eye hopes that people will respond well to being treated as responsible citizens, rather than dangerous children that need looking after.


Gamman, L. and Pascoe, T. (2004) "Seeing Is Believing, Crime Prevention and Community Safety". An International Journal.

Glenday, J. (2010) "Ghettos Blasted, Ghetto Concerto". Urban Realm (Summer Issue)

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