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Design Against Crime: a practice-led design initiative

Design Against Crime was recognised as a formal research Centre in 2005 by the University of the Arts London, becoming Design Against Crime Research Centre (DACRC)

DAC is a practice-led design research project that emerged at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (CSM).  It was founded by Lorraine Gamman as an ‘initiative’ in 1999, and continues to flourish.  It has primarily been funded by the University of the Arts London and by monies raised from successful research council funding applications, that are linked to independent peer review assessment.  Some early design work was also supported by the British Government and the UK Design Council, who as part of the national Crime Reduction Programme provided limited funding in 2000 for DAC at CSM to deliver practice-led research e.g. for curation of the Don’t Temp Me (2001) exhibition that showed in Milan and Barcelona and for development of Karrysafe product range (2002) that got considerable press attention.  Although the bulk of public funds managed by the Design Council went to colleagues from the Universities of Salford, Sheffield Hallam and Huddersfield who delivered major research reports on the subject in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

The Royal Society of Arts were also funded to deliver student Design Awards under the Crime Reduction Programme, and included briefs on crime-resistant laptops, cash machines and rucksacks, hospitals, and schools until funding dried up in 2003. When the Design Council withdrew from the programme as funding ran out, DAC at CSM continued its activities and in 2005 became recognised as a formal Research Centre by the University of the Arts London, and re-titled as the Design Against Crime Research Centre (DACRC) which has continued to deliver significant design methodologies, resources, academic publications and products, listed on this website and others it has created including: www.bikeoff.org, www.inthebag.org.uk, www.stopthiefchair.com, www.grippaclip.com and www.goneshopping.org.uk.

In 2007 the NSW Department of Justice and Attorney General launched an initiative to establish an Australian ‘Designing Out Crime Research Centre’ he said “inspired by other similarly established Research Centres, such as the one at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London”. Around the same time (June 2007) the UK Home Office announced they would again fund the Design Council between 2007-2010 to restart their re-branded ‘Designing Out Crime’ programme co-ordinating a £1.6millon plan of action for the Home Office to use design to develop new solutions to a wide range of crime-related problems, particularly those which affect young people.  The new programme is guided by an Alliance of advisors reporting to the Design Council who have worked with industry experts to tackle five areas where design can help to prevent crime: Schools (Sir John Sorrell), Hot Products (Professor Joe McGeehan), Housing (Professor Ken Pease), Alcohol-related crime (Professor Jeremy Myerson) and Business Crime (Professor Lorraine Gamman).  In August 2008 the University of Technology Sydney inaugurated a Designing Out Crime Research Centre (DOC-RC) with funding for three years, and in 2009 invited research staff from DACRC to Australia to contribute to its design teaching and briefs.

Other areas of related activity, but entirely independent from DAC are delivered by the UK’s Designing Out Crime Association (DOCA) that emerged in 1999 and continues to provide a forum for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design professionals and practitioners including police officers, architects, crime researchers, university lecturers, town planners, community safety officers, landscape architects, and crime risk and research consultants.  Secured By Design (SBD) that also emerged around 1999, is the UK Police flagship initiative supporting the principles of designing out crime by use of effective crime prevention and security standards for a range of applications including housing and car parks.