This page discusses design against crime and presents:

  • Introduction to the book Design Against Crime: Crime Proofing Everyday Objects
  • Practice projects combining design and Crime Science – the Grippa clip, Bikeoff, Graffolution and Self-Checkout loss reduction
  • Links to collections of design against crime case studies
  • Publications and presentations

Design against crime

Foreword Ken Pease
Chapter 1. Introduction – Paul Ekblom
Chapter 2. The Security Function Framework – Paul Ekblom
Chapter 3. Embedding Crime Prevention within Design – Andrew Wootton and Caroline Davey
Chapter 4. Making a Brave Transition from Research to Reality – Rachel Armitage
Chapter 5. A Market Approach to Crime Prevention – Graeme Newman
Chapter 6. Designing against Bicycle Theft – Adam Thorpe, Shane Johnson and Aiden Sidebottom
Chapter 7. Designing a Counter-Terrorism Trash Bin – Rohan Lulham, Olga Camacho Duarte, Kees Dorst and Lucy Kaldor
Chapter 8. Packaging against Counterfeiting Lorenzo Segato
Chapter 9. Reducing Bag Theft in Bars – Paul Ekblom, Kate Bowers, Lorraine Gamman, Aiden Sidebottom, Chris Thomas, Adam Thorpe and Marcus Willcocks
Chapter 10. Supermarket Carts to Reduce Handbag Theft – Aiden Sidebottom, Peter Guillaume and Tony Archer
Chapter 11. Slowing Thefts of Fast-Moving Goods – Martin Gill and Ronald Clarke
Chapter 12. Conclusion – Paul Ekblom

Practice projects

A range of practice projects, conducted by the Design Against Crime Research Centre, University of the Arts London, have drawn on a strong combination of design and crime science. These include the Grippa clip, Bikeoff, Graffolution and Self-Checkout loss reduction:

Grippa clip

The aim of the design was to make it easy for customers to hang their bags beneath tables and at the bar, but hard for thieves, working from the side, to remove them without being noticed. This seems simple, and the finalised design reflects this.

However, other ‘desire’ requirements included economy, self-evident affordance, robustness, ease of installation, maintenance and cleaning, visual appeal, stackability, and more. This meant that the design actually had to be high-performance.

Lessons were nevertheless learned for:


CaMden M-shaped bike stand.

Project Graffolution

An EU-funded project to develop ways of simultaneously reducing illegal/inappropriately-placed graffiti, and boosting positive art, which is consistent with the Design Against Crime principle of balancing what we want more of against what we want less of.

Various materials from the project are here:

Self checkout loss reduction

Appendices A2-7 describe how various Crime Frameworks were modified and applied for use in this project.

‘In this unique applied research study, academics and designers partnered with four of ECR’s Retailer members to immerse themselves in the self-checkout experience, understanding from the perspectives of the shopper and self-checkout supervisors, their journey from entry to exit, and their design challenges and frustrations. Whilst some Retailers have taken strong design approaches, the design-research nevertheless found SCO machines ‘plonked’ wherever they can reasonably fit, and shoppers not always sure how to use the machines or smoothly navigate the SCO environment. In response to this problem context, the design researchers adopted a human-centred design-led approach and formulated key insights to reframe the challenges at self-checkout. Then generated a range of concepts, most of which amount to sketches of possible incremental design changes that might help reduce retail losses and improve customer and staff experiences.

Research findings overall suggest that there are no silver bullet design solutions for the complex challenges faced at SCO and instead an ecosystem of low-tech and high-tech design solutions will have a role to play in reducing customer frustrations and improving flow at self-checkout. While improved machine solutions (including future capacity for AI computer vision technology) can address some existing challenges, the key takeaway from this report is to show how refreshed “design thinking” approaches and small design interventions can make a big difference. The report highlights simple design methods that can be adopted and low-tech concepts that can be adapted and tested by Retail partners to improve upon a range of local problems, suggesting improvements that take a human-centred focus. It urges Retailers to engage with design thinking and offers a detailed explanation of concepts from crime prevention to better understand design context at SCO to help improve customer experience and reduce retail losses.’

Case studies on design against crime

Publications and presentations

Design Against Crime generic publications

These are invited chapters in various compendium volumes, largely covering similar ground but with different emphases, as described.

Design Against Crime generic presentations

Historical interest