POLICE officers in North Yorkshire are calling on the UK's biggest housebuilders to help them design out crime.

The police authority wants developers to incorporate more safety features into their designs, including good lighting and prickly plants in the back garden, to help reduce the fear of crime within communities.

Architectural liaison officers already work with planners, architects and builders on housing developments that are "Secured by Design" - but North Yorkshire Police want more housebuilders to sign up for the scheme.

The initiative ensures that individual homes are fitted with recommended security installations and that the outside environment deters potential offenders. The cost of securing each home ranges from £400 to £1,000.

Architectural liaison officer PC Steve Norman said: "Fear of crime is a big issue in North Yorkshire and we believe that developers have a moral obligation when selling properties to make sure that people buying them feel safe in their new homes.

"Attitudes towards Secured by Design are changing and we are starting to make progress, but it is still the case in some instances that larger housebuilders are letting profits get in the way of safety."

PC Colin Musgrave, another of the three architectural liaison officers, said a lot of crime related to properties can be down to the poor design, particularly with houses in the 1960s and 1970s.

"Our aim is to make communities safer and if houses are Secured by Design, it makes out job as police officers that much more easier," he added.