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Designers can work with end users, or lead users, to inspire innovation... The model DACRC have developed has been generated from practice (what we really did) rather than theory (what we might also think about), although both come into play to guide and provoke design within our methodology.

Over the last ten years DACRC has produced resources that enable and encourage others to design against crime. See:

We have also pioneered visualisation of the way perpetrators engage in crime (see next section on perpetrator techniques) in order to help designers and the public to do their best to anticipate criminal scams as well as the tools and techniques used to deliver them. Our approach and the model DACRC have developed has been generated from practice (what we really did) rather than theory (what we also think about) and both approaches come into play to guide and provoke design within our methodology.

We start with user-centered design which understands that it is good for designers to talk to the people who will regularly use the products, systems and services they design. The Design Against Crime Research Centre (DACRC) based at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London is unique because in addition to engaging with users, our team also talk to people who abuse products, systems and services. We also engage with many different groups of people who directly experience the negative effects of designs that appear to be prone to crime i.e. are targeted by abusers.

User-centred approaches to measuring user experience and behaviour are employed at different times, in different ways by DACRC as the context of a project demands. These approaches are often applied to assess and understand how the individual users, as well as groups of users, might respond to an object, system or service. The user-centred approach is particularly helpful when trying to think ‘sideways’ (‘outside the box’), as the design consultancy IDEO advocate (1), and especially when assessing why some designed objects are not successful, or are prone to crime.

Focusing on abusers as well as users contributes to why Design Against Crime calls itself a sustainable initiative. Crime is not carbon neutral, and its effects are negative and complex, compromising sustainable objectives in many ways. Gamman and Thorpe (2008) describe such effects of crime in terms of ecological, environmental, economic and social factors, including the ‘premature obsolescence’ of objects, linked to the activities of abusers: and/or users who become victims of crime and end up opting for an insurance upgrade when an item has been stolen (2). Gamman and Thorpe argue such effects of crime impact across society and compromise ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (3).

Furthermore, they make the point that the social and economic impacts of ‘courts, cops and corrections’ – consumes resources better spent on building democratic and sustainable communities…(4) This is why they suggest it is important to think about abusers as well as users in order to involve design in the better creation, management and maintenance of more sustainable products, environments and services.

Designers who work on user-centred design often get inspiration from observation and analysis. We think about what’s at stake in the interaction between people and their designed surroundings, and the way people ‘use’ things. In a restaurant, for example, encounters with objects, services, spaces/ environments and people may be understood as ‘dining out’.

In fact, this global experience breaks down into many separate interactions with designed objects – the menu, the chair, the cutlery, etc – requiring the designer of these discrete elements to hold multiple understandings about the users experience of ‘dining’, from different designed perspectives and stages of the scenarios (or ‘scripts’) of ‘dining’ being ‘played out’ by the users (or ‘actors’) in the situation. This is because users experience products, environments and services as part of a system of provision that seeks to define and meet their needs and desires. Whilst the users’ average experience of dining may not normally invoke ideas about crime or safety (with the exception of hygiene – linked to health and safety – as an issue subject to regulation) research shows that, even in mainstream environments, it is not uncommon for customers trying to enjoy themselves in crowded bars and restaurants to be victimised by pickpockets and bag thieves.

Consequently, when looking at the experience of ‘dining’, DACRC have investigated how the user’s experience of eating or drinking in crowded public spaces links to predatory abuser behaviour, to generate understanding of theft MOs within the ‘system’ of use surrounding ‘dining’ and to catalyse the design of furniture and other objects to help prevent it.

However, user-centred approaches are not the whole story, even though many designers use and value them (5). The user’s account of how the established codes and conventions surrounding a product’s usual design territory work for them or their everyday practices and assumptions, might not always produce inspiration outside the usual channels to produce ‘innovation insights’ (6) that will benefit those users when applied within the design process in the long run. Our point is that in reviewing abuser behaviour too, by encouraging designers to ‘think thief’ (7) or adopt the ‘criminal gaze’ (8) at the same time as understanding user need, helps us ask different questions, that lead to different answers and more importantly different types of innovation.

Our thinking about DAC starts with the idea that anything designed against crime should not only be user-friendly, and ‘abuser-unfriendly’ (9) but ultimately ‘fit for purpose’. This requires complex thinking and strategy, and poses a unique challenge to those who undertake DAC work. Designers against crime need to be agile enough to switch between perspectives; but also to address an acute conflict between making a product or place attractive to legitimate/desired users, but unattractive to illegitimate/undesired users (abusers). Designers are required to consider multiple drivers and address them in a way that offers a pleasing resolution to users whilst addressing the conflicts and troublesome tradeoffs that need to be taken into account to design against crime. Taking the theft of personal music players or mobile phones as an example, the very properties and features that render them good for users (such as high value, visual appeal, convenient portability, concealability), also make them desirable to abusers and easy to steal. The designer’s task becomes one of close attention to detail and of finding ingenious ways of discriminating between the competing drivers – of accommodating legitimate use and avoiding abuse (much as an anti-cancer drug has to zap the tumour without zapping the 99.9% similar healthy cells).

DAC's philosophy at CSM is linked to a practice-led socially responsive design research agenda

The requirement to face up to complex issues and produce high performance designs (even when the fundamental product may be as simple as a bag clip), means we invite duty holders (those with a ‘duty of care’ – paid to be interested) and multiple stakeholders (those with a stake in the outcome – often those whom the duty holder accounts to). They offer expert review on the development of research questions, design briefs, visualisations, prototypes and many other design research outputs. These experts include police, but also many other key duty holders – central/local government policy makers, public agencies as well as stakeholders like private businesses or community groups and associations as well as lead or other users and abusers. The design process therefore integrates multi- agency working i.e. highlighting the need to identify who are the crucial duty/stakeholders in the design/crime debate, and what resources or requirements are out there or exist that should be acknowledged by the project, before the design process begins. This allows multiple duty/stakeholders to participate and contribute their expertise and insights to the process – from problem definition, right through to visualisation or solution development and finalisation. The timing of such engagement is significant, and in order to avoid what is known as ‘implementation and involvement failure’ (10), our design model has necessarily needed to evolve to find clear ways to best integrate this feedback and negotiation. Some of these participatory approaches to consultation are generated by designers, linked to project management techniques; other design approaches draw upon diverse methods and incorporate design thinking, crime science (11) theories and processes or risk management techniques.

With so many points-of-view brought into the DAC process, often the design team play the role of ‘facilitators’ or ‘information moderators’ (12) leading up to the development of the design brief. It is at these early design stages that we help project partners, including public agencies, think through with us whether or not the [crime] problem being addressed can actually be resolved in design terms (rather than through other means e.g. policy etc). Through varying methods of participation and co-creation, our designers and researchers lead. We do this by creating hands-on seminars, workshops and information sharing opportunities that help make the design process accessible to the non-designers, and also enable them as expert stakeholders, to introduce questions into the design brief that the design team may not have thought about. In fact the early scoping stage of the design research process is aimed at translating diverse opinions into a design focus or brief, this process of prioritising and ‘sense making’ (13) is perhaps the most collaborative area of our practice. Subsequent design work in response to the co-designed brief is usually delivered directly by the team, with experts and other stakeholders responding to it and helping us ensure our designs are “fit for purpose”.

During the scoping stage, some of the questions considered might relate to the fact that DAC needs to be sustainable in the long term, and so our design outputs need to be embodied with an address to economic and ecological factors, as well as social considerations. But it is how we synthesise and prioritise these observations according to context, and successfully apply them within design practice, that makes our approach to unique. The model we have developed has been generated from practice (what we really did) rather than theory (what we also think about), although both come into play to guide and provoke.

This is probably why the open innovation approach we adopt, described in detail by Chesbrough (14) and also Leadbeater (15), has been successful. The theory of ‘open innovation’ has been adopted by our centre to describe the process we have evolved via iteration over many years of practice. It is a term that in part describes the benefits to be gained from sharing insights and experience in the design process. Using it, DACRC has pioneered new procedures documented at length elsewhere (16) that enable us to incorporate our experiences of ‘lead users’ and ‘passionate amateurs’ into the account of future product development. It also helps inspire and empower stakeholders to engage better with the process of problem definition and problem solving, when crime issues are cast in terms of the need for design improvement, or in terms of the need to redesign thinking about such issues. It is here we have found it useful to draw upon what Buchannan (17) and subsequently Tim Brown (18) have described as ‘design thinking’ (as well as ‘design visualisation’) to help make sense of what we have learnt from our collaborators, to ensure common understandings of the issues being addressed. Also, to grapple with the sense making of “wicked problems”, that cannot be easily defined and they have no single, accepted solution. For example the definition of a social policy problem and what is an acceptable solution depends on the interests of those defining it and evaluating its solution. Consequently, wicked problems cannot be solved absolutely; the situation can only be made ‘better’ or ‘worse’ – the terms of which, again, depend on who is evaluating the solution. Rittel (19), Buchanan (20) and others have subsequently suggested that wicked problems describe the kinds of problems that designers typically encounter and have developed strategies for dealing with.

DAC's philosophy at CSM is linked to a practice-led socially responsive design research agenda.

Design Against Crime (DAC) as an approach to design led social innovation emerged at University of the Arts London from 1999 and continues to evolve. At the Design Against Crime Research Centre (DACRC) we adopt a multi disciplinary approach to designing against crime . We bring together designers, design catalysts (those whose sense making (21) skills and insights can ’join the dots’ for designers to inspire and focus design innovation), and researchers as well as multi disciplinary research teams including; criminologists and crime scientists, anthropologists, engineers, manufacturers, the police and other stakeholders to design out opportunities for crime, and to commercialise DAC ideas. Our approach prioritises design ‘questioning’ over ‘problem solving’. It is often about using ‘design thinking’, usually visually articulated, to look at the wider social context, and to enable stakeholders and partners, who we regularly involve in all our projects, to do that too and to help us innovate (22) . This approach is becoming more common to design, and has been described in many different ways. Hilary Cottam et al, for example, have called this process ‘Transformation Design’ (23) , and incorporate ideas about eco-design and ‘participatory design’ into the account. Transforming thinking and creating design exemplars with multiple stakeholders, to join up multi- agency agendas, is certainly part of what DACRC delivers since it emerged in 1999, leading to the creation of design exemplars that aim to use design for positive social change.

At DACRC we understand that ‘things’ as well as people cause problems (24) . When delivering DAC our team uses all the tools at its disposal to help the designer to integrate the latest research knowledge (including that from design and crime science) into the account of user and abuser centred design. Often we build on the theory of Situational Crime Prevention (SCP), which considers ‘opportunities’ (linked to objects/ environments/ services), prompts, provocations and pressures to be the ‘root cause’ of crime, not just offenders. But we also realise that designing out crime needs to be approached holistically, and it is here where DAC has much in common with ‘social design’. There are many websites that document or categorise social design – many included case studies of our work.

Sites such as socialdesignsite, and Core 77 (25) reveal how many designers are today creating projects, objects, systems and services that aim to deliver social change i.e. to produce social as well as fiscal capital, to make social innovation a goal of the design process. We call the way we do this, our process, Socially Responsive Design (SRvD) – that is, ‘design which takes as its primary driver social issues, its main consideration social impact and its main objective social change(26). We believe the way we have realised DAC provides important case studies of how to deliver SRvD practice successfully. We are aware, however, there is a real difference between social innovation and social impact (27). This is why we are pleased that some of our work has already been audited by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), whose independent report about design impact can be downloaded here.

Staff who work for DACRC often engage in design questioning, drawing on traditional design methodologies and design thinking, before we decide if the crime question can be solved by a design solution, rather than another type of response. When we understand design’s role, our researchers, designers and interns, may approach the problem by drawing upon multidisciplinary sources that include usual design discourses, SCP and crime science information and frameworks, but also focusing on, as already mentioned, user-centred or inclusive methodologies as well as other holistic discourses.

For products, systems and services to be successful we recognise that the user’s needs should be ‘designed in’ as much as the abuser’s needs should be ‘designed out’. If this delicate balance is not addressed correctly, the design will be compromised by an over determination of its resistance to abuse, often reflected in a less than ‘friendly’ functionality, as well as an aesthetic that may look “criminal” and contribute to “fortress aesthetics” – what we would describe as ‘security’ design rather than ‘secure’ design. DACRC’s approach to design against crime uses information gleaned from traditional primary and secondary research and ‘open sources’ via stakeholder networks linked to an ‘open innovation’ (28) approach to ensure our understanding is as up to date and as appropriate as possible. Accessing the best information that can be located is important to research and feeds into the design process, and has inspired us to make sure, in turn, we make our own resources free and openly accessible to others. We argue our model of the Design Process, written up by Gamman and Thorpe (2007) and called the Twin Track Approach (See also Section 3) is linked to open innovation, and an emergent approach. This means the objects, systems and services DAC realises or produces are not always pre-planned and certainly not predetermined at the outset of a project, nor always delivered via a market led approach (although they can be) but rather defined from stakeholder consultation and targeted to understandings about what is needed to minimise the impact and incidence of crime in the context in question.

DACRC’s methodology can be summarised via nine stages of activity as: 1. Think 2. Scope 3. Research 4. Observe 5. Co-create Design Brief 6. Critique 7. Realise prototypes 8. Implement & Test and 9. Evaluate.
Our model can be summarised as:
• Scope and consult
• Research and create
• Create and consult
• Create and test

We iterate at every stage drawing on expert advice of dutyholders and stakeholders to ensure the efficacy of our outputs. DACRC adopts a ‘twin track’ approach that enables us to engage with research led design, and design led research, via the following nine stages of activity:

1. Think (Design Thinking)

The team is always on the look out for crime problems that are appropriate to address with a design response (similarly to a thief on the look out for an opportunity to steal). In being sensitised to design opportunities and empathetic to user needs, talking to multiple stakeholders, even when we are not working directly on a project, we try to use methods linked to our ‘design thinking’ to help structure our enquiry, focus our questions and responses, and to identify issues we want to work on, and areas we’d like to know more about – areas we’d like to ‘scope’.

2. Scope

‘Scoping’ refers to the initial stages of discovery and sense making within a research project. The way we scope a research question is often linked to our own passions and enthusiasms, and also to those of our collaborative networks, linked to our ‘open innovation’ model of research. Our initial methods include much ‘primary research’ often linked to anecdotal and oral accounts from stakeholders and dutyholders. There are many people we talk to manufacturers, providers, consumers. Before beginning a project we map out all the likely voices that need to be heard. Victims of crime as well as abusers will be among those we consult. Also crime prevention design advisors Architectecural Liaison officers who work for the police, or local counci staff, are often are very useful people to talk to, or special interest groups. Scoping can be one of the most inspired and creative stages of the open innovation process as it requires directors of research to piece together the information to hand to identify significant issues and knowledge gaps linked to societal trends and phenomena, and inform the most appropriate research direction. The information that feeds this process includes the consultation described above – but may also take the form of ethnographic methods and immersion technqiues.. We also enage with scholarship (desk based research/literature review) and crime science research. Scoping is often the longest stage of the project and usually begins without any funding in place. It involves the team in developing ideas, identifying knowledge gaps and research questions that may lead us to apply for external funding to undertake the research projects we want to do, usually from independent external research funding councils. Often in order to survive this period, practice-led designers and researchers may take on consultancy jobs that are linked to some of the questions we want to explore, so as to broaden our knowledge and experience of the problem. Alternatively, we might run a short CSM student project to brainstorm an area and prototype ideas, creating an ideas pool. The student help us figure out how to approach the problems we set and in the process rapidly prototyping responses to some of our hunches, and identifying what knowledge is most significant to designers and helping to identify those design research direction(s) that might be of greatest value to pursue. This helps us refine our thinking, it creates useful educational experiences for the students that we support with briefings derived from our own scoping research, external speakers and other studio feedback. It enables us to get more focused about the emphasis we have taken to design the questions and problems and reflect upon whether our responses are appropriate. Perhaps the best way forward is through practice. Practice quickly makes it evident whether elementary models like the crime triangle are of use. If not, we have alternative models for addressing more complex and subtle crime issues, in the form of Paul Ekblom’s frameworks.

3. Research

Research may be initiated during the scoping stage i.e. knowledge about user and abuser issues, and also with reference to generic crime science principles brought into the project from the beginning. But formal research usually only starts once the project is confirmed, and funding is in place. Design researchers, crime scientists and other researchers gather information from diverse sources. The designers are often interdisciplinary in approach, although the individual researchers in the team might not be, rather they are part of a multi-disciplinary team. We all undertake research and at staged meetings, set up before the project starts, we pool information. This may be linked to problem specific content or could be more widely connected to generative (rather than analytical) creative / realisation techniques. The project managers are important here, and so is their design experience. They start to pare down the most relevant sources of information to be used and perhaps visualised, also to link together facts and identify gaps in knowledge – sense making, starting to understand the systems to be addressed by design and imagine strategies for doing so.

4. Observe

Ethnographic observations, ‘people watching’, delivers user information that informs the DAC process and is often undertaken by the whole research team linked to generating (as close as possible to) first hand understandings of user and abuser issues. Also the whole context of the criminal design problem – the system to be addressed by design. Later within DACRC’s iterative design process the designers also undertake their own additional observations. The project managers start to pare down the most relevant sources of information to be used linked to staged meetings and discussions with stakeholders and dutyholders. To deliver observation effectively we often visualise our research. To allow the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches of our teams to synthesise around clear themes we literally draw out and discuss our findings – a show and tell focused on the issues under discussion. For example, we will visualise perpetrator techniques, our observations from ‘people watching’, we visualise user and provider accounts; and other forms of information linked to crime mapping etc. It is also at this stage where we start to involve stakeholders and experts in the review of the design and crime issues and receive their feedback on our research. The individual designers too may also introduce new forms of visualisation into the account. The project managers are responsible for paring down the most relevant sources of visual information to be considered and refined. The whole process is iterative. For example, even at the stage of visualisation, we iterate many times to get images right, and to get thinking right in response to stakeholder input. This makes it possible for individual team members to contribute, and helps us orchestrate what Charlie Leadbeater has described as ‘we think’ approach.

5. Co-create Design Brief

The creation of a design brief follows a similar iterative process. The designers who engage with the brief may also help redefine the brief to their own remits and context of intervention. There are many iterations of the design brief by the whole research team, but it is the way the design project managers, who are ultimately responsible for the finalisation of all the numerous iterations of the brief, synthesise the brief, predominantly linked to their design experience (what Malcolm Gladwell calls the invisible 10,000 may lead to success ). This process should be understood as about more than requirements capture because, design thinking is included, and designed in to provoke flair and imagination from other designers who may respond to such briefs. In fact, we iterate what the brief should be, as many times as project funding time lines and resources allow.

6. Critique

We engage in formal critique stages with team members, multiple stakeholders and experts, to ensure the designs, design resources or other outputs are ‘fit for purpose’. All our thinking is linked to the entire life cycle of the product from production to use and re-use or disposal. It’s here we think about how best to realise the prototypes.

7. Realise Prototypes

We finalise decisions about how best to realise the prototypes. Targeting outputs to the needs and requirements of stakeholders and dutyholders we draw upon Open innovation methods, as well as traditional market led approaches to realise prototypes for testing of our ideas. Prototypes are often realised with industry partners involved as stakeholders in the research process. These partners may be funded or may chose to get involved in exchange for first-mover advantages in relation to the commercial outputs of the research.

8. Implement & Test

We undertake small batch production of successful prototypes. These outputs are strategically implemented in order to allow us to test them, and to incorporate user (and abuser) feedback into the testing process and the final design decisions and possible iterations to follow. Final implementation occurs once we are satisfied that address to both user and abuser issues has been achieved by the tested outputs.

9. Evaluate

Many different methods of evaluation are available to assess whether or not the design is effective in delivering the outcomes sought – whether the design has worked. We engage in both qualitative and quantitative evaluation; including evaluation of outputs from the perspective of design (ease and enjoyment of use), market (cost and appeal to targeted users) and crime science (impact of outputs on impact and incidence of crime, which may be measured in a quantitative way that centres on measurable outcomes such as behavioural change or crime rates). The depth of our approach is perhaps more often encountered in what is traditionally called ‘service design’ i.e. the activity of planning and organising people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service in order to improve its quality, the interaction between [object or] service provider and customers and the customer’s experience. Richard Buchanan’s account of service design is a helpful reference here to fully contextualise this point for those who would like a more in depth explanation.

Chesborough's model of 'open' innovation illustrates that open access to research and development leads to more unpredicted market outputs, compared to 'closed' innovation.

Using the methodology summarised above DACRC aim to catalyse (and create) design that serves its community aesthetically and functionally, beyond but inclusive of the paradigm of DAC as a balancing of considerations of ‘use and abuse’.

To achieve this, design must consider multiple drivers, informed by research, and prioritised according to bias and context. The question is, whose bias and what context?

Whilst to imagine a design scenario without bias is as unhelpful as it is unlikely, it is useful to contextualise and democratise this design bias by applying a process of ‘open innovation’ to the research process. One that openly shares research and development knowledge and thus enables a diversity of opinions and responses to design contexts. We have found that to access this plurality of design opinion and design experience (be it in creating new, or living with existing designs) requires research to be shared in a language that is accessible to diverse disciplines and communities, including the design community. Within the methodology applied by DACRC the processes of research ‘visualisation’, as discussed earlier, uses design skills to develop/ enable design thinking/ engagement with the widest possible audience of stakeholders, including those that have not engaged with design before. In such scenarios, ‘design’ facilitates ‘co-design’ of design questions and briefs, making possible contributions to the process of design by those outside of design disciplines and enabling a process of ‘open’ research innovation.

It also makes research available in accessible forms enabling a diversity of design responses necessary to address the multitude of contexts to be addressed.

Chesborough’s model of ‘open’ innovation (see Figure 2) illustrates that open access to research and development leads to more and unpredicted market outputs, compared to ‘closed’ innovation in which research knowledge is not contributed to, nor shared by, those outside the core project team (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 and Figure 2. Chesborough 2003, ‘closed’ and ‘open’ Innovation

The above models show the research activity occurring within a ‘funnel’ which illustrates a research project – running from left to right – from ‘research’ to ‘development’ to ‘market exploitation’. Chesborough refers to the space in which this activity occurs, the space outside the funnel, as the ‘knowledge landscape’. DACRC considers that much of the knowledge existing outside the core project team in our projects resides within people – or stakeholders – this is the knowledge we seek to access via stakeholder engagement. Thus we refer to the space in which research occurs as the ‘stakeholder landscape’. Fig 1, above shows how closed innovation keeps research and development insulated from the stakeholder landscape. This limits the opportunities for the project to benefit from stakeholder input. It also limits the opportunity for stakeholders to benefit from the findings of the project and apply them as they see fit within local and varied contexts. Fig 2 shows how the boundaries of the project are porous indicating that knowledge is transferred between stakeholders and the core project team. The knowledge transferred being applied both inside and outside the confines of the funded project – this is akin to a process of co-design in that research questions and findings are collaboratively and openly realised and exploited. When the boundaries of research become porous enough to allow in outsiders and outside influences, but more crucially to make research being generated open to those who engage, there is great potential for social innovation (exploitation of creativity in pursuit of social benefit) across many and varied contexts. Varying emphasis of responses often delivered according to the focus of those stakeholders leading a particular response or intervention.

The DACRC team work in an interdisciplinary way with those from other specialisms outside design. Fig 3 below shows how such multi-disciplinary research is delivered within a closed process of research innovation. Whilst involving multiple disciplines (typically criminology, design and crime prevention communities) within the core of the research project this approach does not easily integrate the knowledge and experience of those stakeholders not included in the core project team. Also significant is the fact that whilst different disciplines within the project do integrate within the initial stages of research they tend to return to their mono-disciplinary comfort zones to deliver their responses to the project research. This could be published outcomes that target their own disciplinary sector or designed outcomes that are not typically subjected to rigorous quantitative evaluation such as that provided by crime science. In short, whilst there is some clear interaction and sharing of subject knowledge to create new collective insights by the core team (often DACRC and JDI) and engagement with other subject specialists (from anthropologists to police, from urban planners to cyclists) these groups usually write up or deliver their own outputs for their specialist journals and disciplines in the usual way. Fig 4 shows how the open innovation approach to research, enables much more interdisciplinary activity, and many more unpredicted outputs to collectively occur. Here it is likely that collective writing, and collective outputs are produced, and so design writers may end up writing for crime prevention audiences and vice versa. It also enables the rigours of crime science to be brought to bear on the evaluation of design outputs to seek to gain quantitative ‘proof’ of efficacy of outputs in addition to the qualitative evaluation typically applied to designed outputs. The ‘open’ approach means it is also possible that the individual or groups that originated some of the ideas in circulation may not be the ones who write up or deliver them. Similarly, groups outside the core of the project may apply the insights and outputs of research within their own practice and context broadening the reach of research and furthering its impact.

Figure 3 and Figure 4. DACRC 2009, ‘open’ and ‘closed’ Innovation

DACRC avoids an over-emphasis on novelty and utilises a service design approach that realises effective innovation.

Embracing multi- disciplinary design thinking, as well as Situational Crime Prevention and other crime science methodologies, has led DACRC to develop and apply a problem orientated but nevertheless socially responsive design approach to DAC. A user and abuser centred methodology that applies a participatory approach to an open innovation process of design research. Despite the multiple disciplines involved, design is the discourse that leads this approach. As explained earlier, our model is unique because it is able to source knowledge from multidisciplinary teams to synthesise interdisciplinary information into resources that help generate and support design briefs that are ‘fit for purpose’.

Ultimately, DACRC recognises that the costs of crime are simply not sustainable; and that crime itself jeopardises sustainable development and compromises the ability of present and future generations to meet their own needs because it destroys wellbeing and drives consumption linked to retrofit of security designs to insecure environments and replacement and insurance upgrade of stolen products. Designing products and environments against crime, therefore, can make a positive contribution to the sustainability of products and environments and the communities they serve. By considering abuse as well as use, within the design of products and environments in a holistic way, will ultimately reduce the opportunities for, and impact of, crime. Also it delivers cost savings on cops, courts and corrections that may be well used elsewhere in the generation of economic, social and cultural capital. DAC is thus informed by the idea that we need things to last, to be designed to survive the pressures of 21st century living, and to be part of a sustainable management system, rather than being part of throwaway consumer culture.

Through our practice (rather than just theory) DAC have concluded that the benefits of adopting a sustainable user centred practice methodology helps designers:

• Innovate – by asking different questions we can get different answers.

• Make design socially responsive – empathetic to user and social needs and mindful of environmental impact.

• Build on precedent product solutions by adding crime resistance – we see our design work as always ‘evolving’, to socially responsive needs.

• Learn how to be market forming, rather than market-led. We develop new product briefs generated by user-centred research and observation that can define new demand and inform provision for new markets.

• Help create differentiation. In saturated markets, an anti abuser focus, if it is properly balanced and does not overwhelm the needs of the user, helps differentiate products and add value.

Please view DACRC publications for more resources on social innovation.
  1. Myerson, J. (2004). IDEO: Masters of Innovation. London: Laurence King.
  2. Gamman, L. and Thorpe, A. (2008). Less Is More: What Design Against Crime Can Contribute to Sustainability. In Proceedings Changing the Change Conference. Turin. July 10-12.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Norman, D. (1998). The Design of Everyday Things. London: The MIT Press.                                          Norman, D. (1992). Turn signals are the facial expressions of automobiles. Cambridge: Perseus.             Norman, D. (1994). Things That Make Us Smart. Cambridge: Perseus.                                             Norman, D. (1999). The Invisible Computer. London: The MIT Press.                                                      Norman, D. (2003). Emotional Design. New York: Basic Books.                                                                     See also:
  6. Described in: Oakley, K., Brook, S. and Pratt, A. (2008). The Art of Innovation. Nesta Research Report. Von Hippel, E. (2005). Democratizing Innovation. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  7. Ekblom, P. (1997). Gearing Up Against Crime: a Dynamic Framework to Help Designers Keep up with the Adaptive Criminal in a Changing World. International Journal of Risk, Security and Crime Prevention. 2,4: 249-265. See also: Crime Frameworks.
  8. Gamman, L. and Raein, M. (2010). Reviewing the art of crime – what, if anything, do criminals and artists/designers have in common? In: Cropley, D. et al (Ed.) The Dark Side of Creativity. pp.155-177. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.                                                                                                      See also: Gamman, L., and Thorpe, A. (2010). Criminality and Creativity: What’s at Stake in Designing Against Crime? In: JA. Bichard (Ed.), Design Anthropology. London: Springer.
  9. Ekblom, P. (1997). Gearing Up Against Crime: a Dynamic Framework to Help Designers Keep up with the Adaptive Criminal in a Changing World, International Journal of Risk, Security and Crime Prevention. October 1997, 2,4: 249-265. See also: Crime Frameworks.
  10. Ekblom, P. (2010). Crime Prevention and Community Safety Using the 5Is Framework. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 2.
  11. Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science. See:
  12. Lester, R. and Piore, M. (2004). Innovation: The Missing Dimension. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Chapter 3.
  13. See: VanPatter Interviewed by Peter Jones on Humantafic.                                                                         See also: Kolko, J. (2010). Sensemaking and Framing: A Theoretical Reflection on Perspective in Design Synthesis. In proceedings of Design Research Society conference Design Complexity. University of Montréal. 7-9 July 2010.
  14. Chesbrough, H. (2006). Open Innovation. Boston MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  15. Leadbeater, C. (2007). We Think – the power of mass creativity. London: Profile Books Limited.
  16. Thorpe, A., Gamman, L., Ekblom, P., Willcocks, M., Sidebottom, A. and Johnson, S.D. (2010). Bike Off 2 – Catalysing Anti Theft Bike, Bike Parking and Information Design For The 21st Century: An Open Research Approach. In: Inns, T. (Ed.) Designing for the 21st Century. Volume 2: Interdisciplinary Methods and Findings. Farnham: Gower: 238-258.
  17. Buchanan, R. (1998). Branzi’s dilemma: design in contemporary culture. Design Issues 14, 1: 3-20.
  18. Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design: How Design Thinking Creates New Alternatives for Business and Society: How Design Thinking Can Transform Organizations and Inspire Innovation. Collins Business.
  19. Rittel, H. and Webber, M. (1973). ‘Dilemmas in a general theory of planning’, Policy Sciences 4: 155-169.
  20. Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. In Design Issues, 8, 2: 5-21. Or Buchanan, R (1995). Wicked problems in design thinking. In Margolin, V. and Buchanan, R. (Ed.) The idea of design, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA pp. 3-20
  21. See: GK VanPatter Interviewed by Peter Jones on Humantafic.                                                                  Also: Kolko, J. (2010). Sensemaking and Framing: A Theoretical Reflection on Perspective in Design Synthesis. In proceedings of Design Research Society 2010 Design Complexity University of Montréal. 7-9 July 2010.
  22. Oakley, K., Brook, S. and Pratt A. (September 2008) The Art of Innovation. Nesta Research Report.
  23. Burns, C., Cottam, H., Vanstone, C., Winhall, J. 2006. The red paper 02: transformation design [online]. London: Design Council. Available at:
  24. Felson, M. and Clarke, R. (1998). Opportunity Theory. New Jersey: Rutgers University.
  25. See:,,,,
  26. Gamman, L. and Thorpe, A. (2006). What is socially responsive design? – A theory and practice review. In proceedings: Design Research Society International conference. Lisbon 1-4 November 2006.
  27. Discussing social innovation and social impact. Chris Vanstone explains how blending creative and analytic approaches suggests design thinking does not, by itself, enable social impact. If social impact is the goal then we must move beyond incremental service improvement to radical whole-systems change. Vanstone, C. (2010). Browned off with “Design Thinking” – what is it good for? Innovation Reading Group Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. February 3 2010.
  28. Chesbrough, H. (2006). Open Innovation. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Leadbeater, C. (2007). We Think- the power of mass creativity. London: Profile Books Limited.
  31. Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: the Story of Success. London: Allen Lane/Penguin Books.                         Thackara, J. (2005). In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  32. Buchanan, R. (1998). Branzi’s dilemma: design in contemporary culture. Design Issues 14, 1: 3-20.