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In the Bag Design Resource

In the Bag is DAC Research Resource aimed at designers, to help them get smart quick about pick-pocketing, bag theft and loss of personal products. It visually animates statistical and criminological data and combines it with contextual information directly relevant to design processes and responses.

www.inthebag.org.uk

What is it?

In the Bag is a Design Against Crime (DAC) research resource aimed at designers, to help them get smart quick about pick-pocketing, bag theft and loss of personal products. It visually animates statistical and criminological data and combines it with contextual information directly relevant to design processes and responses.

This free-access online resource emerged as an unanticipated research output of the Turning the Tables Design Against Crime Research Centre (DACRC) project on bag theft, funded by AHRC It further benefits from research that the DACRC has conducted during practice led projects, including Grippa (AHRC), Stop Thief (AHRC/ Design Council) and Karrysafe (Design Council), each aimed at using design to help individuals keep themselves and belongings safe while out and about, in public, semi-public and commercial locations.

In 2001 the In the Bag, CD-Rom visual resource, was published by Lorraine Gamman aimed at encouraging designers to embrace anti crime thinking in their designs. The In the Bag website updates the earlier tool, to include more easily accessible information and to make more recent examples available to practitioners in design and crime prevention as well as those in education. The website is more flexible than the CD Rom and easier to keep current. It includes new crime science and design research exemplars that DACRC have located and been able to make available to broad audiences.

How did our research lead to new design?

In the Bag set out to inspire designers with the right information so they can make a difference. The resource includes summaries of common ‘street crimes’ (mainly theft related) and the most common perpetrator techniques deployed in these crimes (MO’s – modus operandi) and details on their causes, where affected by the design of the objects or environments involved in the situation of a crime (SCP). The resource also features new design work catalysed from DACRC research and a range of ‘takeaway’ briefs aimed at challenging designers everywhere to ‘have a go’ at DAC. Additionally, the tool offers a referenced research resource for those wishing to address the subject at an academic level.

Why our design approach constitutes “social design” or “social innovation”?

Designing out crime poses many challenges for the design profession. Its clear from escalating crime figures that designers need to be more creative than criminals. The design dilemma, or ‘wicked problem’, is to design objects, environments and services that address both users and abusers, without making the solutions look or feel criminal. The leap from understanding criminological theory using our visual translations of it, to create sexy and real world design practice, is made easier than ever before.

In the Bag design resource acknowledges that crime problems such as theft of ‘hot products’: bags, cards, phones, wallets, or identity theft, are not only affected by a person’s vigilance over their belongings, or the type of bag or phone they use, but also by the knowledge and solutions made available to people about what they can do to stay safe. In some contexts for example, the layout within a venue, the furniture provision, or the environment that seating is organised in, can also impact the safety of a person’s belongings.

In the Bag equips design professionals, students and others wanting to use design to combat issues of crime, by making some of the key information, otherwise often only located in crime science reports, readily accessible and visually understandable.

What are the strengths of design aspect of the project?

The simple and visually accessible format makes this tool both useful and use-able to a wide range of practitioners and investigators. This has allowed it to be instrumental in stimulating new specialist creative engagements with and crime science and crime prevention knowledge, for example, www.grippaclip.com and www.stopthieftchair.com.

The resource has already been used to help brief and inform studio projects and design competitions, including MA Industrial Design course at Central Saint Martins whose graduate Sara Bellini, DACRC intern, won the Design Innovation in Plastics Award 2007, first prize for Keepsafe.

On 13th April 2009, the website received over 5,000 hits, linked to the Design Council’s “hot products” publications and promotion activities where it was referenced, in relation to accounts of crime as a form of “premature obsolescence”.

The resource continues to prove beneficial for designers working and studying, who regularly contact DACRC and can be shown this portal as a quick access point of reference to upgrade their knowledge in this subject area.

What are the weaknesses of design aspect of the project?

The website would benefit from further funding to support more design competitions, to attract new generations of designers, also to finance greater updating and visualization of new anti bag theft information, data, concepts and market led examples.