Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 2 cover

Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 2

Edited by Ronald V. Clarke

Buy this volume from Lynne Rienner Publishers


Title and copyright pages
Editor's introduction
Problem-Oriented Policing and Drug Market Locations: Three Case Studies
by Timothy J. Hope

The problem-oriented approach to policing and the situational approach to crime prevention have much in common, both arising from the search for more effective means of crime control. They share a common perspective in being targeted at specific crime problems and locations. This paper describes three case studies of problem-oriented policing carried out by officers of the St. Louis (MO) Metropolitan Police Department, each concerned with reducing crime and disorder at locations where drugs were being sold. In each case, the individual officers played a pivotal role as catalysts in stimulating actions by the community and city agencies, and in achieving reductions in crime and disorder at the problem locations. The cases suggest that at the localized level at which it operates, problem-oriented policing can achieve the kind of coordinated action which may not be so easy at a broader level of community and organizational aggregation.

Developments in Dutch Crime Prevention
by Hans M. Willemse

Since the mid-1980s, the Dutch government has placed increasing emphasis on crime prevention to curb the rising crime rate. New local, regional and national projects have been implemented. Some significant developments in terms of processes and outcomes of the crime prevention efforts are reviewed. Four examples of successful projects are discussed (prevention of shopping center deterioration, truancy prevention, reversal of neighborhood decay and use of surveillance officers in public transport). Meta-analysis of the project evaluations and additional information underline the advantages of prevention, but point also to some limitations of prevention as well as of the evaluation studies. Discussion is on some of the factors that will likely influence the possibilities for further growth, given the institutionalization of the preventive approach within Dutch criminal policy.

Controlling Parking: Experience in the United Kingdom
by Jonathan Smith

The parking of private motor vehicles in urban areas presents the industrialized world with one of its biggest problems. In the U.K., the government has responded to the dilemma by introducing more parking controls. The enforcement of these controls is undertaken by traffic wardens, who can impose financial penalties on motorists who park illegally. However, this form of enforcement is expensive, and sometimes further control is required. The wheel clamping of illegally parked vehicles in London has substantially reduced the extent of illegality. Elsewhere, deterrent approaches have been tried. Parking vouchers are now proving popular with some local authorities. Others have responded to the problem of inadequate enforcement by employing their own parking attendants. This has proved to be very successful, even though they are not legally able to enforce all parking controls. Parking problems are often related to congestion. In London a "Priority Route," where special parking controls apply, has improved traffic flow by reducing illegal parking. The government is now instituting further changes in parking control by devolving many more powers to local authorities. This will allow more resources to be devoted to the control of parking.

Steering Column Locks and Motor Vehicle Theft: Evaluations from Three Countries
by Barry Webb

The fitting of security devices to motor vehicles has become an important approach to the prevention of motor vehicle crime. In cars, manufacturers have focused primarily on improving perimeter security to prevent breaking-in to the vehicle, and installing devices to prevent parked vehicles from being unlawfully driven away. The steering column lock is an important example of this approach, being the outcome of the first and only regulations requiring vehicles to be fitted with anti-theft devices. The Federal Republic of Germany was the first country to introduce such regulations, in 1961, followed nearly ten years later by the U.S. and Britain. This paper examines the effect of these regulations on motor vehicle crime in each of these countries. The evidence from all three countries is that steering column locks have helped to bring vehicle theft, particularly theft for temporary use, under control for lengthy periods. The paper provides evidence that the speed with which the vehicle population has been protected by steering column locks, and the availability of other types of vehicles not protected by such anti-theft devices, are important issues in explaining theft patterns.

Gasoline Drive-Offs: Designing a Less Convenient Environment
by Nancy G. La Vigne

Recent studies of convenience store crime have focused on robberies, but gasoline thefts are a troublesome and often overlooked public policy problem that drain valuable police resources. An analysis of calls for service from 38 convenience stores in Austin, TX reveals that gasoline drive-offs account for 48% of all convenience store calls. This paper ties the environmental characteristics and business practices of convenience stores to reported gasoline drive-offs. The findings suggest that removing signs from windows, installing brighter lights and instituting a pay first policy can deter such crimes.

The Influence of Street Networks on the Patterning of Property Offenses
by Daniel J. K. Beavon, P. L. Brantingham and P. J. Brantingham

This paper reports the results of a study that explored the relationships among property crime, the accessibility of street networks and the concentration of potential targets. It is hypothesized that the design of street networks influences how people move about within a city and, consequently, their familiarity with specific areas. It was further argued that property crimes occur in known areas with attractive targets. Consequently, areas with the most complex road networks and the fewest common destination points should have the lowest levels of property crime. Using an ex post facto research design in two suburban municipalities, the study compared the relative amount of property crime in each street segment with that segment's relative accessibility, traffic volume and quantity of potential targets. Both road network complexity and traffic flow were found to be of substantial importance. Crime was higher in more accessible and highly used areas and lower in the less accessible and less used areas. The concentration of potential targets was highly related to accessibility and traffic flow and to overall property crime totals. The findings clearly point to the importance of the urban background created by cities through zoning and road network development. The study also suggests that traffic barriers and road closures can be used as effective crime prevention techniques in only a limited number of situations. The situations should, however, be predictable when opportunities and the spatial decision processes of offenders are considered co-jointly.

The Obsolescence of Crime Forms
by Dermot P. Walsh

Little attention has been paid to why offenses become obsolete or obsolescent. In the context of attempts to reduce crime, it is necessary to consider reasons for past successes. This paper presents a preliminary classification of reasons for the obsolescence (legal abolition, court action, action by police and customs officials, economic and social change, and population density) of 24 offenses (e.g., bribery of voters, eavesdropping, "furious driving," and safe-breaking.) The issue of how new offenses are created may bear on their eventual prevention. It appears that deliberate preventive action is only rarely successful, and that obsolescence is largely the unintended consequence of economic and social change.

Diffusion of Crime Control Benefits: Observations on the Reverse of Displacement
by Ronald V Clarke and David Weisburd

Preoccupation with the threat of displacement has led crime prevention researchers to overlook the phenomenon of "diffusion of benefits," the unexpected reduction of crimes not directly targeted by the preventive action. This phenomenon, which can bring considerable added value to situational measures, has been described as the "complete reverse" of displacement. Two processes underlying diffusion are identified involving, on the one hand, offenders' uncertainty about the extent of the increased risk, and, on the other, their exaggerated perception that the rewards of particular crimes are no longer commensurate with the effort. These processes are labeled, respectively, deterrence and discouragement. Recent research provides numerous examples of both kinds of diffusion. Ways of enhancing diffusion are explored, and a program of research is advocated on offender perceptions of the opening and closing of criminal opportunities

Proximal Circumstances: A Mechanism-Based Classification of Crime Prevention
by Paul Ekblom

The evaluation of England's Safer Cities Programme requires taking account of over 3,000 diverse preventive schemes. A formal, detailed and comprehensive classification system is required. In developing it, this paper considers why classification is necessary, identifies what features a good classification system needs, and examines-and finds wanting-existing frameworks. Starting from basics, a definition of crime prevention is put forward from which paradigmatic models of the criminal event and of crime prevention itself are developed, centered around causal mechanisms operating in the proximal circumstances of criminal events-i.e., the situation plus the offender's disposition. Only at this point can the classy1cation system be introduced, on the platform of a minimal theory of criminal events which nonetheless draws in a range of relevant disciplines-law, psychology, sociology and ecology. It is not a single rigid taxonomy, but a toolkit that can generate alternative classifications and descriptions of preventive action for different purposes by users operating at different levels of sophistication. The paradigms and the classification are put forward here, not as the last word, but as an attempt to stimulate discussion, which will produce further refinement of the approach. It is argued that the approach adopted has the potential to foster the development of crime prevention as a discipline.