Conservative leader David Cameron has attacked John Prescott over the government's failure to 'design-out crime'.
The politician claimed that the ODPM's use of planning regulations to discourage private front gardens, driveways and windows looking out on to the streets had led to crimes such as burglary, theft and vandalism.
Speaking on a tour of a south London council estate, Cameron also criticised Prescott for official guidelines which encourage the use of public transport through high-density developments and limit car use by restricting parking provision and narrowing streets.
'I believe that quality of life matters, as well as the quantity of money,' Cameron said. 'Few things affect people's quality of life more than crime and the fear of crime, and it is the poorest in society who suffer the most.
'I recognise that the causes of crime are complex and various. However, there is growing evidence that the design of housing estates can radically affect the local crime rate.
'We have a shared responsibility for tackling these problems. Councils, planners, housebuilders and government all have a role to play to use best practice, from examples in this country and abroad, to design-out crime and to make our communities safer and stronger.'
Cameron went on to say that planning rules should favour the construction of homes with private open space, as front gardens can increase security both from burglary and thefts from doorsteps.
The opportunities for vehicle crime could be reduced by ensuring that householders can park on their driveway or in adjacent garages, he said.
He added that increasing the level of observation of streets and pathways from the windows of homes would encourage a feeling of community and reduce the sense of anonymity which encourages criminal activity. by Ed Dorrell