Windsor Police Preach Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Business owners in downtown Windsor received some tips on how to prevent crime from Windsor police Thursday night.

Windsor Police Service's Barry Horrobin is an expert in crime prevention through environmental design — the idea that proper design can reduce criminal activity and fear in both commercial and residential spaces.

Pharmacy robberies have been at the forefront in Windsor-Essex over the past few years, but Horrobin says preventative measures are needed for all business owners to thrive.

He says some of those measures are simple and inexpensive.

"In some cases you have a fixed site and you may be limited, but natural surveillance can be enhanced by things like not covering all your windows up with posters and things like that," says Horrobin, who's the Director of Planning and Physical Resources for WPS.

Cameras and lighting are all great tools, but Horrobin tells AM800 News foot-traffic is the ultimate form of surveillance.

"Beneficial to users, visitors, property owners, and employees for safety," he says. "These activities would be things that would support safe usage. The more hours of the day that you have space being used safely the less opportunity there is for unlawful activity."

The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association hosted the event at the Sunbridge Hotel and Conference Centre on Ouellette Ave. near Park St.

Board Chair Larry Horwitz says thousands of dollars have already been earmarked to light alleyways in the city's core, but more will be done to make sure people feel comfortable walking downtown streets.

"We're going to look at cameras, we're going to look at funding different aspects of that," Horwitz says. "Whatever it takes to make downtown the safest, cleanest location."

Downtown Windsor businesses don't have the ability to refuse access to public streets, according to Horwitz. 

Devonshire Mall — where security can refuse access to those loitering or causing a disturbance on private property — is one example Horwitz used to illustrate the security challenges for downtown business owners.

"We have to compete with all those places that are completely in control of their environment," he says. "We have to work with the police, we have to work with city, we have to have good relationship and we have to be very proactive."

Horrobin says lighting, access control, and counter design are easy security measures to implement as well. He says increased counter height and width will keep a would be robber at a safer distance from employees.

While several pharmacies have recently locked their doors to filter access, Horrobin says that might not be the best option in a free society.

He did say there's some understanding as to why those measures are taken and won't condemn it, but it should be a temporary measure while business owners shore up less extreme security options.