Crime Prevention and Control


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  • Created by: Sarah
  • Created on: 06-06-11 11:04

Situational Crime Prevention

Ron Clarke describes situational crime prevention as 'a pre-emptive approach that relies, not on improving society but simply on reducing opportunities for crime.' He identifies three feature of measures:

  • They are directed at specific crimes
  • They involve managing or altering the immediate environment of crime
  • They aim at increasing the effort and risks of committing crime and reducing the rewards
  • Target hardening mesaures such as locking doors and windows increase the effort a burglar needs to make, while increased surveillance in shops via CCTV or security guards increase the likelihood of shoplifters being caught.
  • Underlying situational crime prevention approaches is an 'opportunity' or rational choice theory of crime. This is the view that criminals act rationally weighing up the costs and benefits of a crime opportunity before deciding whether to commit it.This contrasts with theories of crime such as the criminal's early socialisation or capatalist exploitation.
  • Clarke argues that most theories offer no realistic solutions to crime. The most obvious thing to do is to focus on the immediate crime situation. Most crime is opportunistic, so we need to reduce the opportunities. Felson gives an example of a situation crime prevention strategy. The Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City was poorly designed.
  • The toilets were a setting for luggage thefts, rough sleeping, drug fealing. Reshaping the environment. For example, large sinks that homeless people were bathing in were replaced  smaller sinks.
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Situational Crime Prevention: Displacement

One criticism of situational crime prevention measures is that they do not reduce crime; they simply displace it. If criminals are acting rationally, they will respond to target hardening simply by mocing to where targets are softer.

Displacement can take several forms:

  • SPATIAL: Moving elsewhere to commit crime
  • TEMPORAL: Committing it at a different time.
  • TARGET: Choosing a different victim
  • TACTICAL: Using a different method
  • FUNCTIONAL: Committing a different type of crime.

Evaluation of Situational Crime Prevention

  • Situational crime prevention works to some extent, however with most measures most likely to be some displacement.
  • It tends to focus on petty street crime.
  • It ignores the root causes of crime such as poverty.

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Environmental Crime Prevention

This approach is based on the article 'BROKEN WINDOWS'. Wilson and Kelling used the phrase 'broken windows' to stand for all the various signs of disorder and lack of concern for others that are found in some neighbourhoods. They argue that leaving broken windows unrepaired and tolerating aggressive behaviour etc, sends out a signal that noone cares.

In such neighbourhoods, there is an absense of both formal social control such as the polce and informal control such as the community. The police are only concerned with serious crime and turn a blind eye to petty behaviour. Therefore causing the respectable people to move out and the area therefore becomes a magnet for deviants, leading to a community of deviants.

Zero Tolerance Policy

Wilson and Kelling solution is using a twofold strategy. First, an ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT STRATEGY: any broken window must be repaired immediately etc otherwise more will follow. Secondly the police must adopt a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICING STRATEGY. They must proactively tackle even the slightest sign of disorder even if it is not criminal.

Great success has been claimed from the Zero Tolerance Policy: In New York, a 'Clean Car Program' was instituted on the subway, in which cars were taken out of service immediately if they had any graffiti on them only returning once cleaned. However, 7,000 officers were available and many had not adopted the zero tolerance policy and there was a reduction in crime.

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Social and Community Crime Prevention

Social and community prevention strategies place the emphasis firmly on the potential offender and their social context. The aim of these strategies is to remove the conditions that predispose individuals to crime in the first place.

These are longer-term strategies attempt to tackle the root causes of offending, rather than simply removing opportunities for crime.

Because the causes of crime are often rooted in social conditions such as poverty, unemployment and poor housing, more general reform programmes addressing these issues may have a crime prevention role, even if this is not their main focus. For example policies to promote full employment are likely to reduce crime as a side effect.

The Perry Pre-School Project.

Perry Pre-School Project was a programme aimed at reducing criminality within disadvantaged black children. An experimental group of 3-4 years old was offered 2 year intellectual enrichment programme, which recieved home visits.

A longitudinal study followed the children's subsequent progress, it showed differences with a control group who had not undergone the programme. By 40, they had significantly fewer lifetime arrests for violent crime, drugs etc.

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  • The approach that we have discussed above take for granted the nature and definition of crime.
  • They focus on fairly low level/ interpersonal crimes of violence, this disregards crimes of the powerful and environmental crimes.

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