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Fighting crime through more effective design

Award Information

AHRC ref: AH/E507956/1
Discipline: Design
Funding opportunity: Research Grant
Areas of Impact: Engagement with Business Communities; Creative Industries; Environment; Health and wellbeing; Investment in people; Knowledge exchange; Policy influence; Crime prevention
Lead RO: University of the Arts London
Region: London

Pioneering work at the Design Against Crime Research Centre has developed new goods and services to tackle crime through innovative approaches and creative partnerships.

The Centre’s work delivers quality-of-life benefits by helping reduce instances of crime. It also improves the UK’s economic competitiveness by creating exciting new products that address crime prevention in everything from ATM theft to counter-terrorism.

One of the Centre’s success stories is the anti-bike-theft ‘M’ Stand. Faced with the problem of the growing numbers of cycle thefts in our cities, the team at London’s Central Saint Martins worked with Transport for London, the police, the Design Council, cycle groups and local authorities to develop the ‘M stand’, which combines new design ideas with a close understanding of how cycle theft occurs.

“With over 395,000 in the year to December 2014 alone, the ‘M’ stand is part of a design revolution in secure cycling,” explains Centre Director, Professor Lorraine Gamman. “Developed with the help of AHRC funding, the stand was bought by a number of local authorities who all reported a decline in cycle theft.”

The stand has been rolled out in a number of locations across the UK, via collaborations with commercial partners, and through links with local councils. It is estimated that the net financial benefits could be £3.2 million over the next ten years. There has also been interest in purchasing or licensing the designs in Spain and Poland.

A second flagship product is the Grippa Clip, an anti-theft bag clip for use in bars and restaurants. The Crime Survey England & Wales shows there were around 478,000 personal thefts in 2013-2014 with 4% of these from pubs or bars (both these figures were considerably higher at the time of the project). While property theft has been falling for a number of reasons, existing evidence indicates that a 10% Reduction in crime levels could be achieved as a result of widely using the Grippa Clips.

The Grippa Clip was shown at the ‘Safe – Design Takes on Risk’ exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This attracted interest from the Manhattan Robbery Squad and Starbucks Senior Management, highlighting how relatively simple dissemination activities, coupled with the right motivation, can lead to making links with potential users and beneficiaries.

For more information on the project visit:



Gateway to Research Project Links: Bike Off 2 - Catalysing anti theft bike, bike parking and information design for the 21st century, Nov 06 - Oct 08

Associated image: Dan4th Nicholas on Flickr by CC 2.0