Thursday August 14, 2008
Creating an environment to foil crimes
Story and photo by EDWARD RAJENDRA
THE harmonisation of landscaping and the enhancing of street lighting are two essential aspects in environmental design that the Selangor state government can implement to help curb crime in residential areas, according to a Chinese association in Klang.
Selangor Eng Choon Associa-tion economic sub-committee chairman Sam Lee Hooi Pang said that soft landscaping and brighter street lights would make a neighbourhood environment safer.
He said that most of the roads were designed to give priority to vehicles, without due consideration to the pedestrians.
“The lack of safe sidewalks on both sides of a road makes the pedestrians easy targets for snatch thieves,” Lee said.
“Using hedges, instead of concrete bollards, to keep motorcyclist away from sidewalks is the least expensive and the most effective security initiative,” he said.
According to Lee, elements such as landscaping and lighting do not force a change in road user behaviour but could provide the visual cues that encourage a safer environment.
He said a proper landscape design and the effective use of space could help reduce the incidence of crime and support community livability such as absorbing vehicle noise.
“Our state landscape department must create an environmental design unit at the local council level to implement the use of trees, shrubs, hedges, foliage lighting and street lights for natural surveillance,” he said.
“The local councils are now on a tree planting exercise and all efforts must maximise natural border reinforcement,” he said.
Lee said that unkempt areas that cut out visual connection must be cleared to improve the visibility of the police on patrol monitoring criminal activities.
“For Klang, the local council’s environment unit must visit the neighbourhoods and implement the five measures from the safe city programme as directed by the Housing and Local Government Ministry in November last year,” he said.
The five simple measures are (1) separation of pedestrian walks from motor vehicle lanes, (2) the provision of hedges along pedestrian paths, (3) the cleaning up of concealed and unkempt areas, (4) unobstructed view of public walkways, and (5) lighting up potential crime areas.
Lee said public safety was a core component of a vibrant community and the residents in each locality must become the ears and eyes of the police to compliment their crime prevention efforts.
Selangor tourism, consumer and environment committee chairman Elizabeth Wong commended Lee for his concept of environmental design to prevent criminal activities, saying that it was a good strategy.
“Environmental design initiatives could be a blueprint for public safety, as it would make discourage criminals from striking.
“We want the bad hats to be seen and feel vulnerable going into residential areas and the residents to feel safe,” she said.
Wong said she would table the concept at the state executive council meeting and also discuss it with the state landscape department.