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Sociology Unit 4 > Crime Prevention > Flashcards

Flashcards in Crime Prevention Deck (20)
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There are several approaches to crime prevention. These include Situational, Environmental, as well as Social and Community crime prevention. These raise the issue of social control- the capacity of societies to regulate their behaviour.


Situational Crime Prevention
Definition according to Ron Clarke

Ron Clarke defines situational crime prevention as 'a pre-emptive approach that relies, not on improving society or its institutions, but simply on reducing opportunities for crime


What three features of situational crime prevention does Clarke identify?

1. They are directed at specific crimes
2. They involve managing or altering the immediate environment of the crime
3. They aim at increasing the effort and risks of committing crime and reducing the rewards


Target hardening is an example of Situational Crime Prevention

Target hardening measures include locking the doors, security guards, reshaping the environment to 'design crime out' of an area. These increase the effort a criminal, such as a burglar, needs to make, while increased surveillance increases the likelihood of being caught.


Rational Choice theory

Underlying situational crime prevention is a rational choice theory: the idea that criminals act rationally, weighing up the risks and rewards of a crime opportunity before deciding to commit it.


SCP does not tackle root causes

To deal with crime, we should have to transform the socialisation of large numbers of children or carry out a revolution. Clarke argues that the most obvious thing to do is focus on the immediate crime situation, where the scope for prevention is greatest. Most crime is opportunistic , so we need to reduce the opportunities.


Therefore, SCP involves a right realist view...

The fact that Clarke views offenders as having a rational choice in committing crimes, and prefer to focus on practical solutions rather than the root causes, is a right realist view, and is therefore criticised by left realism who argue the root causes should be addressed, such as poverty and socialisation, in order to develop long term strategies for crime prevention


Felson: The Port Authority Bus Terminal

Felson gives an example of a situational crime prevention strategy. This bus terminal in NYC was poorly designed and provided opportunities for deviant conduct such as luggage theft, rough sleeping and drug dealing. However, when the physical environment was reshaped, e.g. replacing large sinks the homeless used for bathing with smaller ones, such activity was greatly reduced.


-/+ displacement

Situational Crime prevention does not reduce crime, it displaces it. And if criminals are acting rationally, surely they will respond to target hardening simply by moving to where targets are softer.
However, there is evidence to suggest the success of this strategy in reducing the OVERALL suicide rate, after the gradual replacement of highly toxic coal gas (the cause of half of all suicides) with natural gas. Those who would have killed themselves by gassing did not go on to choose another method of suicide.


Evaluation- does not account for all crimes

Although this approach may explain opportunistic pretty street crime, it does not explain corporate and state crime. Furthermore, the assumption that criminals make rational calculations is unlikely in many crimes of violence and drug related offences.


Environmental crime prevention: Wilson and Kelling

Wilson and Kelling argue that 'broken windows' (signs or disorder, e.g. graffiti, begging, littering, vandalism) that are not dealt with send out a signal that no one cares, prompting a spiral of decline


Formal and Informal social controls

An absence of both formal social control (the police) and informal control (the community) means members of the community feel intimidated and powerless. Without remedial action, the situation deteriorates and respectable people move out if they can, and the area becomes a magnet for deviants


Wilson and Kelling's twofold strategy: environmental Improvement and Zero tolerance policing.

The solution is to crack down on any disorder through an Environmental Improvement strategy (e.g. abandoned cars immediately towed away) and a zero tolerance policing strategy. Instead of merely reacting to crime, they must proactively tackle even the slightest sign of disorder to halt neighbourhood decline


+ Evidence of success

Clean Car Programme- instituted on the subway, in which cars were taken out of service immediately if they had any graffiti on them, only returning once clean. Graffiti was largely removed from the area.


- Environmental crime prevention and zero tolerance may not have been the cause of crime reduction

-The NYPD benefitted from over 7,000 extra offices
- There was a general decline in the crime rate of major US cities at the time, including ones where zero tolerance was not adopted
- There was a decline in the availability of crack cocaine.
- The fall in murder rate owed more to improved medical emergency services than policing.


Social and community crime prevention

Rather than emphasising policing, these strategies emphasise dealing with the social conditions that predispose some individuals to future crime


Tackling the root causes

These are longer term strategies, since they attempt to tackle the root causes of offending, rather than simply removing the opportunities for crime. Because the causes of crime are often rooted in social conditions such as poverty, unemployment and poor housing, more general social reform programmes addressing these issues has a crime prevention role. e.g. full employment policies are likely to reduce crime as a 'side effect'


The Perry pre school Project

The Perry preschool project In Michigan gave an experimental group of disadvantaged 3-4 year olds a two year intellectual enrichment programme. The longitudinal study following their progress into adulthood showed far fewer arrests for violent crime, property crime and drugs compared with peers not in the project.


Evaluation of environmental crime prevention

+ The case study demonstrates the positive evidence of success, showing how by tackling root causes, crime was reduced
- However, this is only one study and one type of crime, since this left realism perspective overlooks corporate and white collar crime


Evaluation of all three crime prevention strategies

These approaches take for granted the nature and definition of crime. They generally focus on fairly low level, interpersonal crimes of violence. This disregards the crimes of the powerful.