OFFICERS who use their expertise to 'design out' crime in new builds have been praised for their contribution to cutting crime.

North Yorkshire Police’s Designing Out Crime Officers (DOCOS) work closely with architects, designers, developers and local authorities at the planning stage of new developments, to ensure crime prevention and safety has been taken into consideration when new schemes are being designed.

The DOCOs provide specialist crime prevention advice around the design of new developments.

Measures such as adequate lighting, the design of communal spaces, doorways not being concealed and hidden in shadow, clear lines of sight, perimeter security and the strategic use of planting and hedging can have a simple, yet dramatic impact on the level of crime experienced in new neighbourhoods.

The DOCOs are also responsible for promoting and implementing national crime prevention initiatives, such as the Secured by Design scheme, a police initiative which further improves the security of buildings and their surroundings.

A York-based development recently awarded Secured by Design status is the Hungate block F development in the city centre, a project which North Yorkshire Police DOCO Richard Ball has been involved in since its inception.

Speaking about his role, Mr Ball said: “I know first hand how ill-thought-out design and a lack of consideration about crime prevention in the layout of housing developments can lead to crime hotspots. "By not ensuring there is natural surveillance, or if pathways are concealed or given sharp corners and a lack of lighting, it can create vulnerability that criminals can exploit.

“That’s why my job is so satisfying, knowing that even before foundations are dug or the first brick has been laid, the long-term security of people's homes has been taken into consideration to ensure they literally are ‘as safe as houses’," added Mr Ball, a former neighbourhood police officer who retrained as a town planner.