What type of criteria informs the Safety Inclusion Assessment?
Jaimee Boutcher-Hann: The Safety Inclusion Assessment provides a standard approach for built environment professionals to identify personal safety risks, capturing qualitative and quantitative data across diverse criteria such as surveillance, space activation, and legibility. Whilst we do look at crime statistics, we know that gender-based violence is often underreported. Therefore, our qualitative data is mainly derived from engagement, as this is key to ensuring that the design of community spaces works for the people that use them.
Susan Leadbetter: Capturing safety concerns from local users is a crucial part of the process. This will not only allow us to understand local context, but it will allow us to identify solutions that people want and provide design solutions to support safer communities. We know that engagement can often be seen as costly and time-consuming, but engagement could be something simple like hosting a workshop or pop-up stall, or even organizing an on-site walk with locals.
Abby Harris: Using feedback from people, site visits and quantitative assessments, we identify a day and night score to capture personal safety risks and changes in activity throughout the day. A nighttime review is undertaken to ensure our assessment considers a person’s experiences within an area after dark and how this impacts their feeling of safety.
Susan Leadbetter: In addition, the criteria consider the place and movement functions of the site, to ensure we capture the needs of the people using a given space and develop site-specific solutions. For instance, the criteria for urban parks will vary compared to an assessment of an urban road corridor. We use this insight to identify how transport designers, real estate developers and public-sector organizations can improve real and perceived safety risks.
How and at what point in the project lifecycle should the information generated from the Assessment be applied to achieve optimal outcomes?
Susan Leadbetter: The Safety Inclusion Assessment can be applied throughout the project lifecycle. It can be used at the start of a project to identify best practice, at the concept design stage to co-design a specific public space or transport scheme, and it can be used to assess an existing public space, to monitor how safe it is and identify improvements.
Jaimee Boutcher-Hann: We’ve recently used the Safety Inclusion Assessment on a large site redevelopment in London at Liverpool Street Station. This Assessment looked at aspects of the public realm, including streets and transport links in the area, considering elements such as lighting, amenities, surveillance, and movement paths, to identify changes that could improve how safe people feel when travelling.
What’s next for the SIA?
Natasha Healey: Our approach is constantly being developed as we learn more from the public about their perception of inclusion, which is why engagement with people is such a crucial part of our approach.
We’re taking a human-centred approach to other work too. As an example, we’re working with partners to deliver the UK’s first National Centre for Accessible Transport (ncat), which aims to make transport accessible and inclusive. Similar to the Safety Inclusion Assessment approach, we want to understand the views of disabled people — understanding their individual, intersectional2 experiences is key to delivering the best outcomes.
To enhance impact, we are continuing our collaborative activities. This means setting up cross-industry forums, engaging with communities as part of our projects and training clients about how they can embed a human-centred approach into their business practices. Finally, we will continue to learn about how everyone can advance safe community spaces for all.