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Posted: January 27th, 2024

Crime prevention: key principles

Crime prevention: key principles.
Crime prevention is the anticipation, recognition and appraisal of a crime risk and the initiation and completion of some action to remove or reduce the risk and thereby its consequences. In this blog post, I will discuss some of the key principles of crime prevention and how they can be applied in different contexts.

One of the most widely used frameworks for crime prevention is the situational crime prevention approach, which focuses on modifying the immediate environment and circumstances of potential crime situations to make them less attractive or rewarding for offenders. This approach is based on ten principles that can be used as a checklist to identify and implement suitable preventive measures. These principles are:

– **Target hardening**: Making it physically more difficult to commit the crime, such as fitting better locks, installing security gates, using anti-theft devices, etc.
– **Target removal**: Ensuring that a potential target is out of view or out of reach, such as removing valuables from parked cars, putting them in a safe, hiding them behind curtains, etc.
– **Removing the means**: Removing items that may help commit the crime, such as tools, ladders, weapons, drugs, etc.
– **Reducing the payoff**: Reducing the profit the criminal can make from the offence, such as security marking property, using dye packs, not buying stolen goods, etc.
– **Access control**: Controlling access to a location, a person or an object, such as locking doors and windows, using entry barriers, security guards, ID cards, etc.
– **Surveillance**: Improving surveillance around homes, businesses or public places to deter criminals, such as using CCTV cameras, lighting, alarms, neighbourhood watch, etc.
– **Environmental design**: Designing the physical environment to reduce opportunities for crime and increase natural surveillance, such as landscaping, fencing, signage, etc.
– **Rule setting**: Establishing rules or codes of conduct to regulate behaviour and discourage offending, such as school rules, workplace policies, community norms, etc.
– **Increasing the risk**: Increasing the perceived or actual risk of being caught or punished for the offence, such as increasing police presence, patrols, sanctions, etc.
– **Reducing the provocation**: Reducing factors that may trigger or provoke criminal behaviour, such as stress, frustration, conflict, injustice, etc.

These principles can be applied in various settings and contexts to prevent different types of crimes. For example:

– To prevent burglary at home, one can use target hardening (e.g. installing deadlocks), target removal (e.g. hiding valuables), removing the means (e.g. securing tools), access control (e.g. locking doors), surveillance (e.g. using alarms), environmental design (e.g. trimming bushes), rule setting (e.g. displaying signs), increasing the risk (e.g. reporting suspicious activity) and reducing the provocation (e.g. resolving disputes with neighbours).
– To prevent shoplifting at a store, one can use target hardening (e.g. using security tags), target removal (e.g. displaying dummy goods), removing the means (e.g. locking cabinets), reducing the payoff (e.g. marking prices), access control (e.g. using detectors), surveillance (e.g. using mirrors), environmental design (e.g. arranging shelves), rule setting (e.g. posting warnings), increasing the risk (e.g. employing security staff) and reducing the provocation (e.g. providing good customer service).
– To prevent vandalism at a park, one can use target hardening (e.g. using graffiti-resistant materials), target removal (e.g. removing litter bins), removing the means (e.g. banning alcohol), reducing the payoff (e.g. cleaning graffiti quickly), access control (e.g. closing gates), surveillance (e.g. installing cameras), environmental design (e.g. planting flowers), rule setting (e.g. enforcing by-laws), increasing the risk (e.g. patrolling rangers) and reducing the provocation (e.g. providing recreational facilities).

These are just some examples of how the ten principles of crime prevention can be used to analyse and address various crime problems in different situations. However, it is important to note that not all principles are equally applicable or effective in every case, and that some may have unintended or negative consequences if not implemented carefully or appropriately. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with experts or professionals before undertaking any crime prevention initiatives.

For more information on crime prevention principles and practices, you can refer to these sources:

– Clarke RV and Eck JE (2005) Crime Analysis for Problem Solvers in 60 Small Steps
– Cornish DB and Clarke RV eds (2003) The Reasoning Criminal: Rational Choice Perspectives on Offending
– Ekblom P ed (2013) Design Against Crime: Crime Proofing Everyday Products
– Lab SP ed (2014) Crime Prevention: Approaches, Practices and Evaluations
– Tilley N and Sidebottom A (2017) Handbook of Crime Prevention and Community Safety

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