In the 2023 annual residents’ survey gathered by Wellington City Council, only 43 percent of respondents said they felt safe in the central city at night (compared to 82 percent in their own neighbourhoods).
Only 39 percent of women reported feeling safe and just 27 percent of people with a permanent or temporary disability.
Overall, the decline in those who feel safe in the central city has dropped from 76 percent in 2019 to 43 percent this year. The three top concerns are ‘threatening people / people behaving dangerously’, ‘alcohol and drug problems’ and ‘poorly lit or dark places.’
Police data for the year to June 2023 shows most victimisation happens in the city centre. The highest level of victimisation happens at the hospitality end of Courtenay Place on Friday and Saturday nights from 11pm to 5am.
Safer by design
Crime prevention is top of mind for Let’s Get Wellington Moving. We’re incorporating the internationally recognised principles of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) into our designs because the way an area is designed and built can make it safer.
CPTED principles focus on community culture (a sense of common purpose, safe communities for all), social cohesion (positive social relations, local solutions to local problems), connectivity (linked neighbourhoods) and threshold capacity (land use and demographic diversity).
Our urban design lead Emily Alleway says CPTED principles provide a framework aligned to national and international best practice.
“The approach helps us design for crime prevention. It’s not just a tick-box exercise to address safety concerns. Using the CPTED process, we gather a diverse range of views and experiences to gain a deeper understanding of a place, any environmental considerations and all the activity that happens throughout the day. These factors can influence anti-social behaviours or patterns of use,” Emily says.
“We’re collaborating with community, designers and managers of public spaces and putting people at the heart of problem-solving. All participants are playing a meaningful role in city-shaping, which strengthens community relationships and ensures the resulting changes are well-embedded, enduring and improve overall perceptions of safety and security.”
"It’s not just a tick-box exercise to address safety concerns"
Qualities of well designed, safe places
The CPTED national guidelines list seven qualities for well designed, safe places:
- Access – safe movement and connections
- Surveillance and sightlines – see and be seen
- Layout – clear and logical orientation
- Activity mix – eyes on the street
- Sense of ownership – showing a space is cared for
- Quality environments – well-designed, managed and maintained environments
- Physical protection – using active security measures
The Let’s Get Wellington Moving designs include reviews with a CPTED lens. Our latest review of the Courtenay Place and Lambton Quay areas made the following observations:
- Courtenay Place was singled out as a crime hot spot due to the drinking culture of the area, as well as for antisocial behaviour, sexual assault and property damage.
- Concerns were raised about laneways branching off the Golden Mile.
- Private recesses into buildings were a risk for entrapment because of low lighting and isolated spaces.
- Removing the public toilets at the Cambridge Terrace end of Courtenay Place to facilitate re-alignment of the carriageway and improve sightlines was recommended (new sites are being investigated).
- A creative mix of lighting was recommended, such as up-lighting for features like trees and statues, seat and table lighting, feature lighting around outdoor dining, and shopfront lighting.
- Guidance was needed on ways some flexible spaces can be used when outdoor dining is not in operation. The aim is to attract a wider range of users to these areas and to increase the number of people, and therefore ‘eyes’ on the street.
- CPTED-advised design is an important aspect of a multi-agency, integrated approach to creating a safe built environment.