Situational Crime Prevention

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Situational crime prevention (SCP): RIGHT REALIST

This essentially doesn’t try to change institutions or anything about the society but just reduce opportunities for people to commit crime. Ron Clarke (1992) describes situational crime prevention as ‘a pre-emptive approach that relies not on improving society, but simply on reducing opportunities for crime.’ It’s based on Rational Choice theory that criminal weigh up pros and cons. Clarke identifies 3 methods of situational crime prevention;

  • Directed at specific crimes
  • Involve managing or altering the immediate environment
  • Aim to increase effort and reduce benefits of crime-relate

’Target hardening’ involves, locking doors, employing security guards, re-shaping environment with fewer crime hotspots, and CCTV

For example; Marcus Felson (1998) looks at SCP in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NY and how it was poorly designed and provided deviant opportunities.

Or Poyner and Webb (1997) used a field exp and discovered that there was a high rate of theft in the Bullring centre in Birmingham and that thefts occurred in 2 markets which were densely packed. They redesigned the markets and crime fell by 70%.

-They do not stop crime they just displace it. If criminals are rational then they would obviously just commit crime somewhere with softer controls. Chaiken et al (1974) found that a crackdown on subway-robberies only lead to crime above the surface

+Works to a certain extent on some crimes but not all, like homeless people using public spaces for homes, when there is no where to stay they will move

+SCP may not always lead to displacement, in the 60’s they changed the gas system from highly toxic gas to less toxic gas, this lessened the suicide rates because they could not any more (there wasn’t the situational opportunity), as the overall rate declined there was no displacement.

-Ignores white-collar crime/bigger more MC crimes

-Assumes criminals act rationally but that doesn’t work for violent crimes and crimes under influence of drugs

-Ignores the root causes of crime, such as poverty or poor socialisation

-CCTV is bad. Norris and Armstrong (1998) found that camera operators focus on young males. Feminists argue that CCTV is just an extension of the 'male gaze’ not a solution.

Opportunity for crime;

-Felson and Clarke (1998) suggest that the higher levels of opportunity are the ‘root cause’ of crime

-Brantingham& Brantingham (1995) suggest that urban areas have more crime generating and attracting areas such as –shopping precincts, warehouses, leisure facilities, large insecure car parks

Environmental crime prevention: RIGHT REALIST

Basically, Wilson and Kelling who devised the Broken Windows thesis argue that if a place is left to disrepair then it will only get worse and cause more crime. This absence of formal and informal controls (police and community) makes the people living them feel powerless and intimidated by fear of crime. Respectable people move out of the area and this leaves room for deviants.

Zero tolerance…


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