The SAFE Design Standard<sup>®</sup>

The SAFE Design Standard®

Security Achieved through Functional Environmental Design (SAFE)

First-ever comprehensive, systematic, and standardised certification program focused on reducing the risk and fear of crime through design.

Lions Gate have been selected by the SAFE Design Council to be the exclusive education provider for the private security sector in Canada and the United States.


Lions Gate has been working with the SAFE Design Council and providing a security consultant and law enforcement perspective to program development and also conducting SAFE Assessments since June 2017. We are strong advocates for the Standard and commend it to clients looking at new build projects or to positively influencing security design in their existing facilities. With both we have an eye to a client return on investment. We have our own team of SAFE Design Council trained SAFE Design Accredited Professionals (SAFE-AP(tm)) on staff to service clients.

The SAFE Design Council

(Security Achieved through Functional Environmental Design) is a non-profit organization established in 2014 by Mount Royal University Associate Professor, Dr. Kelly Sundberg. Today, the council consists of a multidisciplinary team of subject-matter experts and researchers committed to advancing innovative crime prevention through environmental design standards and methods for Alberta’s public and private sectors. Using evidence-based methods to assess risk, the council supports the application of physical security measures specifically tailored to each property or organization the SAFE Design Standard(tm) is applied.

The SAFE Design Standard TM

Is a “Made in Alberta” crime prevention method that uses scholarship, industry best practices, official statistics, and contextual analysis to safeguard building and site occupants from the risks of crime. A key goal of the council is to provide informed risk assessments and develop physical security benchmarks that property owners and manages can confidently use to protect against security and criminal threats. The SAFE Design Council applies a holistic lens to crime prevention, which allows organizations to gauge their progress. Their work has been applied by organizations such as the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, ENMAX, WestJet, and BC Transit. In addition, Dr. Sundberg and his colleagues have given lectures on the use of SAFE Design at academic, design, and security conferences around the world. Today, the council is proud to be a leader in advancing scholarly-based and industry-informed crime prevention solutions across Alberta, around Canada, and throughout the world.

Designed to be applied to clients’ new build projects and clients existing facilities, sites and spaces the SAFE Design Standard® methodology involves two-levels of review:

  1. an analysis of the specific geographic and site-use risks inherent to a project
  2. a risk-informed, comprehensive, and systematic physical assessment of the project’s site and buildings. Safe Design can only be applied by an Accredited SAFE Design Professional (ASDP)

At its core, the SAFE Design Standard® has been developed so designers and security professionals consider how desired design, aesthetics, and functionality can together contribute to overall security, with security and control technologies supporting and complementing these design considerations. Essential to the application of the SAFE Design Standard® –– or any other crime reduction through design strategy, method, or program –– is recognizing the possible connections and security threats that exist between the physical, social, and even cyber environments.


Lions Gate Risk Management Group was specifically selected by the SAFE Design Council as the first Accredited firm to provide SAFE Design Consulting services based on the firm’s exceptional leadership, impeccable national reputation, and unique professional capacity.

With crime reduction specialists on staff, and security consultants with over 20-years combined designing out crime experience, working with property owners, managers and strata councils, architects, designers, developers and planners, we are a well-qualified partner for SAFE Design Council.

Our new build experience includes small scale to large scale projects, outline planning for single build to large scale developments, including land use and master planning. Our existing build risk assessment experience is extensive, covering government, education, healthcare, commercial, residential, and specialized risk clients.

Lions Gate is client-led; a concept, not market, driven organization. There are no affiliations tying us to specific security products or services. Within the team we have over 100 years law enforcement experience, and a strong academic pedigree in our intelligence team. Our knowledge and combined experience of offender behavior is extensive, and this allows us to provide qualified direction.

LGRMG is the first independent security consultancy company to undergo SAFE 100 and SAFE 200 training and to receive accreditation from the SAFE Design Council and become SAFE Design Accredited Professionals (SAFE-APs).


To reduce the risk and fear of crime by providing a scholarly-based, industry-informed, and continually evolving crime reduction through design methodology and corresponding professional accreditation and project certification programs. The SAFE Design Council provides research, training, and advice that supports practitioners and projects to achieve enhanced physical security through place and context sensitive design.

Lions Gate Design Services

Our design focus is in three main areas.

First, we are the delivery arm for the SAFE Design Standard for existing facilities, building, structures or open spaces. Our combined experience within the company and our backgrounds ensure tier one service in support of the SAFE Design Council and the Program. It is because of our impeccable credentials that Lions Gate have been selected by the SAFE Design Council to be the exclusive education provider for the private security sector in Canada and the United States.

Second, we are support for the SAFE Design Council for new build projects. We have over 20 years combined experience working with architects, developers, builder and planners. We provide an offender behaviour context to new builds.

Third, we employ CPTED principles in support of all applicable services we offer under the Lions Gate umbrella. We do so to a level of detail and with a thoroughness unmatched in the sector.

The SAFE Design Standard – Crime Reduction Through Design

The SAFE Design Standard® (Security Achieved through Functional Environmental Design) includes the foundational elements of CPTED and builds on them. SAFE Design acknowledges that CPTED has changed little since the 1970’s and has refreshed and updated the approach.

Crime reduction through design Is most aptly achieved when applied in a systematic manner by educated professionals who understand the interaction between the physical, social, and designed environments – safeguarding against overt fortification and unnecessary security features.

The SAFE Design Standard is primarily aimed at reducing crime through functional planning, landscape architecture, architecture, engineering, interior design, and space programming at the design stage, before plans morph into structures or completed spaces.

The SAFE Design Standard is no less viable when it is directed to reducing crime risk through design for existing structures.

Recognizing these distinctions and to better meet client needs the SAFE Design Council has drawn together and trained SAFE Design Accredited Professionals (SAFE AP) from a range of different professions. The existing and connected resource pool of architects, engineers, landscape designers, security consultants and academics, will expand as the program grows.

Our SAFE Design Team

The Lions Gate Risk Management Group SAFE Design Team is comprised of a group of highly qualified individuals with a unique combination of academic, private sector, law enforcement and designing out crime backgrounds. Our SAFE Team is a high value resource, a trained team of accredited professionals ready to serve clients seeking SAFE Design Standard Certification.

The SAFE Design Standard® Client Sectors

Who is this for?

  • For the government sector focuses on creating safer and more secure municipal, state/provincial and federal government properties.
  • For the education sector focuses on creating safer and more secure grade schools, colleges and universities.
  • For the healthcare sector focuses on creating safer and more secure hospitals, clinics, ambulatory care centers, medical offices, laboratories and related sites.
  • For the commercial sector focuses on creating safer and more secure commercial properties such as office buildings, shopping complexes, hotels, resorts and other similar properties.
  • For the residential sector focuses on creating safer and more secure residential properties such as townhouses and apartment buildings, as well as recreational and vacation properties. The methodology is also applicable to uniquely focused properties such as data centers, airports/seaports, public transportation facilities, and other critical or high-risk sites.

Assessor Accreditation & Property Certification

The SAFE Design Accredited Professional Education Program (SAFE 200) is delivered by leading environmental crime reduction specialists. This course provides participants a comprehensive understanding of the SAFE Design Standard® methodology, and teaches how to apply the SAFE Design Standard® to a project. Upon successful completion, participants will be eligible to become SAFE Design Accredited Professionals (SAFE AP) and authorized to apply the SAFE Design Standard® in the development or redevelopment of built environments – including having a property or site certified as meeting the rigorous SAFE Design Standard®

By including analyses of the unique social context and site type risks relating to a site and building – the SAFE Design Standard® ensures risks specific to a project being certified are considered during the assessment process. Once the social context and site type risks have been identified, a comprehensive assessment of the perimeter and gateways, hard and soft landscapes, building envelope and openings, and building interiors is completed. Central to the multi-phase site and building assessment is the methodical and quantitative examination of:

  1. access and way finding
  2. visibility and natural surveillance
  3. security and manufactured surveillance
  4. site maintenance and programming. By employing a systematic, standardized, and quantitative method of analysis, the SAFE Design Standard® affords a more reproducible, reliable, and accurate crime reduction through design assessment when compared to more traditional approaches.

Designing Out Crime Specialists

With the third area of focus in mind and rather than relying on reactive measures, Lions Gate’s Designing Out Crime Consultancy Group provides expert risk management advice to new developments and new build projects throughout the development process. Our group includes Intelligence Analysts, Risk Assessors, Technical Advisors, Design Professionals, Threat Specialists, and Cultural Advisors as required.

Through pre-design direction, schematic or concept design, further design development; to comprehensive construction drawings, plans and document review. Then ensuring all the requisite check boxes are ticked in construction project administration, through to final security requirement compliance auditing, ahead of commissioning. We establish the regulatory framework and compliance requirements. We then guide design, throughout the project life cycle, ensuring alignment with policy documentation, operating procedures, protocols, processes and program development. We focus on minimizing imposition in determining security measures and in achieving functional and aesthetically pleasing design.To see how security and construction can run parallel in a design project please read our article ‘designing out crime – security integrating with architects’.

We are familiar with design processes, the language of design and symbology applied to design. Our annotations will reflect this and by using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software we also utilize the tools employed by design professionals. Read our ‘designing out crime’ article to gain a fuller appreciation of the scope of designing out crime and crime prevention through environmental design and the clients who stand to benefit from its application.

Our role as designing out crime consultants is to reduce opportunities for crime and nuisance activity and we have the subject matter expertise within our team at Lions Gate to do so effectively. We apply years of offender behavior experience to remove or adjust design features that would foster crime and apply / add community safety enhancements into the design mix. Security is but one requirement in the design process, so we also adapt security layering to accommodate compromise, where it is necessary to do so, and where a ‘compliance requirement’ is not impacted.

We conduct community audits to establish the impact of the community on the facility/development and the facility/development on the community. We interview law enforcement to establish the locality crime and nuisance footprint; we establish the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats presented by facilities of type already in operation. Our research is extensive and through our pro-activity we contribute to getting the ‘security component’ of any design right before the digger hits the dirt and structures are built.

Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED)

Facility or development design can influence the occurrence of crime and nuisance both positively and negatively. The aim of crime reduction through environmental design CPTED, is to reduce the vulnerability of people and property to crime by removing opportunities that may be provided Inadvertently by the built environment. Doing so effectively reduces fear of crime and enhances quality of life. Evidence also suggests that appropriate safety and security features Incorporated into the design and layout of a development project is highly beneficial on many levels: It need not increase costs, indeed aligned with the right policies and procedures and the proper balance of design, human touch and technology it will often ensure cost savings. It will also be more economical in the longer term not least with reduced maintenance expenditure. Read our ‘designing out crime is far more than CPTED’ article which gives a subject matter expert insight and might just prompt a change in mindset. In real terms the prevention of all crime is not possible so a more appropriate term to apply is crime reduction through design.

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