Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 5

The Politics and Practice of Situational Crime Prevention

Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 5.

Ross Homel, editor

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Title and copyright pages
Editor's Introduction
Problems with the Problem-Oriented Approach
by Daniel Gilling

This paper subjects the problem-oriented approach to crime prevention to critical scrutiny. Though acknowledged as a theoretically coherent and potentially highly promising technique of crime control, questions are raised about the extent to which the ambitions of the approach are likely to be realised in the process of translation from. the realm of ideas to the realm of action. In particular, three broad kinds of barriers are considered that may stand in the way of realisation of the approach's full potential: the problems of responsibility, of politics, and of identification. The paper draws upon empirical material from Britain but raises issues of international relevance.

Unintended Consequences of Crime Prevention
by P. N. Grabosky.

A review identifies unintended consequences of crime prevention initiatives that may nullify their effectiveness or produce counterproductive results. A typology of regressive outcomes includes crime escalation, displacement, over deterrence, and perverse incentives. Causes of these negative externalities include failures in analysis, planning and implementation. However safeguards are possible to avoid many of the unintended consequences.

Taking Out the Interesting Bits? Problem Solving and Crime Prevention
by Adam Sutton

National and international experience now leave no doubt that methods other than enforcement of criminal law are effective in reducing crime and associated harm In particular, initiatives that are based on routine activity and situational theory, and those that concentrate on addressing spec, well-defined problems, have been demonstrated to have greater impact and to be less costly than "law-and-order" reactions. Despite this, problem solving and focused opportunity reduction have been comparatively neglected in Australian policy discourse. Drawing on the practical fieldwork experience of crime prevention students, this paper argues that attempts to apply opportunity reduction and problem focused approaches often encounter obstacles and resistance not mentioned in mainstream accounts. Inclusion of these elements would ensure better understanding and appreciation of these approaches, and cement their place among and displace law-and-order reactions to crime.

The "Dream" of Multi-Agency Crime Prevention: Pitfalls in Policy and Practice
by Reece Walters

During the 1980s, terms such as interagency or multi-agency cooperation, collaboration, coordination, and interaction have became permanent features of both crime prevention rhetoric and government crime policy. The concept of having the government, local authorities, and the community working in partnership has characterized both left and right politics for over a decade. The U.S. National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals in the U.S.. Circulars 8/84 and 44/90 released by the U.K. Home Office, and the British Morgan Report-coupled with the launch of government strategies in France, the Netherlands, England and Wales, Australia, and, more recently, in Belgium, New Zealand, and Canada-have all emphasized the importance of agencies working together to prevent or reduce crime. This paper draws upon recent Australian research and critically analyzes multi-agency crime prevention. It suggests that agency conflicts and power struggles may be exacerbated by neo-liberal economic theory, by the politics of crime prevention management, and by policies that aim to combine situational and social prevention endeavors. Furthermore, it concludes that indigenous peoples are excluded by crime prevention strategies that fail to define and interpret crime and its prevention in culturally appropriate ways.

Situating Crime Prevention: Models, Methods and Political Perspectives
by Robert White

This paper provides a commentary on the politics surrounding crime prevention models and methods. It argues that conflating particular models with particular methods can unnecessarily undermine the acceptance of certain approaches as being appropriate "crime prevention" interventions. The paper presents three abstract models of crime prevention- conservative, liberal and radical-and discusses how diverse methods can be separated from these models, and and used in broader political context.

Guilt, Shame and Situational Crime Prevention
by Richard Wortley

This paper builds on Clarke and Homel's (in press) expansion of situational crime prevention model, which includes new techniques for making the potential offender feel guilty or ashamed about their contemplated crime. In place of Clarke and Homel's single category of "inducing guilt or shame," two separate categories involving the manipulation of internal controls (guilt) and social controls (including shame) are proposed. The addition of these categories expands the repertoire of available crime prevention techniques by giving fuller recognition to the subtleties and complexities of the motivations to commit crime implicit in the rational choice perspective. It is argued that the new strategies also "soften" the narrow, target-hardening image of the situational approach, and may help counterproductive situational crime prevention effects.

Case Studies: Decision Making of Violent Offenders

Reducing the Opportunities for Violence in Robbery and Property Crime: The Perspectives of Offenders and Victims
by David Indermaur

This paper reports on research undertaken in Western Australia in violence associated with robbery and property crime. Firsthand accounts from 88 offenders and 10 victims are examined for information and perspectives that may be relevant to the prevention of such violence. Results suggest that violence occurring in the course of a robbery or a property crime is most effectively prevented by reducing the overall rate of these crimes. However, once an offender has confronted a victim, the victim's behaviour may be critical in preventing violence. Appreciating that offenders may be very afraid or even angry with the victim suggests a non- approach and one that may even facilitate the offender's escape.

An Analysis of the Decision-Making Practices of Armed Robbers
by Shona A. Morrison and Ian O'Donnell

This paper is based on a study of commercial armed robbery in London, UK, involving the analysis of over 1,000 police reports and interviews with 88 incarcerated armed robbers. While official criminal statistics document that over three-quarters of armed robberies in Britain involve real firearms, findings suggested that only around one-third actually do. Robbers rarely reported the availability of guns to be an important factor in their choice of weapon. Together this implies that simply reducing the availability of real firearms may not be the most effective preventive strategy. Offenders made reasonably accurate predictions with regard to the financial benefits of the crime. Also, their analyses of the potential costs involved in committing armed robbery were found to be neither irrational nor grounded in ignorance of the likely outcome. Furthermore, robbers appeared to tailor their modus operandi with a view to both maximizing the potential financial rewards and reducing the likely risks involved in the crime. Target hardening and other situational crime prevention strategies have uses beyond their primary prevention capabilities. For instance, they may aid in the subsequent detection of offenders. This, in addition to further study on the dynamics of robbers' motivations, may lead to an effective broad based approach to the prevention of commercial armed robbery.