Crime reduction through situational crime prevention: a study in the united kingdom

Sixteen opportunity Reduction Techniques in Situational crime prevention


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Sixteen opportunity Reduction Techniques in Situational crime prevention

Increase the perceived effort of crime

Increase the perceived risks of crime

Reduce the anticipated rewards of crime

Remove excuses for crime

1. Harden targets: steering column locks, anti-robbery screens
2. Control access to targets: entry phones, electronic access to garages
3. Deflect offenders from targets: bus stop location, street closings, segregation of rival fans
4. Control crime facilitators: photos on credit cards, plastic beer glasses in pubs

5. Screen entrances and exits: electronic merchandise tags, baggage screening
6. Formal surveillance: red light and speed cameras, security guards
7. Surveillance by employees: park attendants, CCTV on double deck buses
8. Natural surveillance: street lighting, defensible space architecture

9. Remove targets: phone cards, removable car radios, women’s refuges
10. Identify property: vehicle licensing, property marking, car parts marking
11. Reduce temptation: rapid repair of vandalism, off-street parking
12. Deny benefits: ink merchandise tags, PIN for car radios, graffiti cleaning

13. Set rules: hotel registration, customs declaration, codes of conduct

14. Alert conscience: roadside speedometers, “idiots drink-and-drive” signs

15. Control disinhibitors: drinking age laws, car ignition breathalyser, V-chip in TV
16. Assist compliance: litter bins, public lavatories, easy library check-out

Source: Clarke, Ronald. V. (Ed.). 1997. Situational Crime Prevention: Successful Case Studies, Second Edition. Albany, NY: Harrow & Heston.


SCP mainly draws upon the aforementioned theories SCP is therefore a specific target oriented approach to crime prevention that utilises managerial techniques, design and manipulation of environment for reducing the criminal risks. The probable criminal actions are also made risky and less rewarding by this technique. The ideas like these are traceable to the seminal works by Clarke. Infact, the studies by Clarke laid a firm foundation for application of this approach in actual setting. Clarke talked of several ways and means to apply SCP. He mainly talked of four strategies and sixteen techniques of the SCP. The four main strategies are as under:

1. increasing the effort needed to commit the crime;

2. increasing the risks associated with the crime;

3. reducing the rewards of crime; and

4. removing excuses or creating embarrassment

The theories and ideas analysed above make a case for crime prevention by way of the following approaches:

  1. Problem oriented policing

  2. Defensible space architecture

  3. Crime prevention through environmental designs

  4. Situational crime prevention

Conceptual Differences: The following Table indicates the mutual differences in certain new approaches that are recently emerging in the area of crime reduction.




Situational Crime prevention

Elimination of criminogenic situations

Managerial techniques, design and manipulation of environment

Crime & Disorder Reduction

Multi agency approach

Action relating to several areas falling under community agencies

Community Policing

Enlisting citizen support for crime prevention and image building

Service oriented programmes

Problem oriented policing

Specific crime problems

Target oriented and evidence based problem solving

Broken window

Neighbourhood in disorders and deterioration

Upkeep of neighbourhood and focused policing

Community Safety

Wider view of crime reduction

Collective and comprehensive interventions

A more intensive debate on the theory of SCP is given in the subsequent part of the Report (Chapter VI)

Crime prevention Initiatives in Britain

In the context of the UK, the texture of crime prevention has changed considerably.

Since 1980 onwards crime prevention moved from being of trivial intellectual interest to become a major concern of governments. The discernible trend is that the government is apparently promoting the policies leading to community safety and crime reduction and not essentially launching ‘crackdown on crime’ type approach. The history of crime prevention in the UK shows the picture of shifting agenda of priorities on the subject.
Situational crime prevention as a technique has been applied in the entire range of crime prevention and reduction initiatives that were undertaken by the law enforcement agencies.
The Kirkholt project in Britain has undeniably paved the way to undertake situational crime prevention measures in a big way. This project began in 1989 involving variety of professionals like city officials, police, social workers and the university in tackling repeat victimization on the Kirkholt housing estate in Rochdale. The project personnel organized a neighbourhood watch programme to surround victimized homes and encouraged residents to upgrade locks and bolts as well as remove coin-operated electric and gas metres (to reduce readily available cash).
The Kirkholt programme resulted in a 75 per cent drop in burglaries within a period of three years. Lower gas/electricity metre losses and the reduced amount of property/cash stolen covered the programme's costs. And it saved about $3.84 for every dollar invested in police time, detection, sentencing, probation and detention costs. The Kirkholt and other successful crime prevention programmes convinced the British government in 1998 to adopt the Crime and Disorder Act, which joined local authorities and police with other agencies -including social services, education, probation, child protection and the courts.
Crime Reduction Strategy

The present strategy of crime prevention in Britain adopts an integrated approach. The Home Office that is primarily responsible for developing the policies and programmes and their implementation has come out with a comprehensive programme of crime prevention. It is a continued exercise in the Home Office and the desirable changes are effected as and when needed. Currently, the emphasis of the Home Office is on the ‘Crime reduction’. The host of measures targeting virtually all sorts of offences are being undertaken. A sum to the tune of £450 million is being spent on these programmes. The thrust at the moment is on developing multi agencies partnerships to effectively cut down the crime incidence. The highlight of this strategy is the statutory involvement of all local governance agencies like health, education, transport, communication, construction, telephones etc. To give the partnerships a legal basis the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 was specially brought in. To meet the training needs of the officials involved in the partnerships, a Crime Reduction Centre has also been established at York. The Audit Commission in the U.K. evaluates the performance of the partnerships periodically. The partnerships are required to develop their strategy for next couple of years and their achievements are evaluated against set yardsticks.

Situational Crime Prevention & Crime Reduction
The Crime Reduction (CR) is an official initiative to prevent crime through various ways. It’s an umbrella term for various applications and techniques that are being used in the UK for crime prevention. According to the Crime Reduction Centre’s publication (2003) crime reduction means reducing the number and seriousness of crime and disorder events by:

  • identifying potential targets for crime and taking action

to deter potential offenders

  • disrupting and frustrating crimes as they happen

(e.g. police action to stop a fight or an individual's action

to ward off a pickpocket.)

action (e.g. stopping further use of a stolen credit card, or

dealing with offenders)

Crime reduction is a wider approach with a future orientation. Actions in this approach are aimed at curbing crimes as they happen. This may be achieved by a set of measures. The core features in this approach are: reducing the likelihood and seriousness of criminal and disorderly events by intervention in their causes, or by intervening directly in the events themselves. The approach varies with the traditional notion of crime prevention in terms of its pre decided agenda of the extent to which the crimes are reduced. Thus it has a definitiveness and guided plan of action.

It is mentionable that the Crime Reduction strategy was announced by the Home Office, UK in 1999. The Crime Reduction Programme (CRP) is a more than £450 million programme that ran for 3 years from April 1999 and which took an evidence-based approach to reducing crime in England and Wales. (Separate arrangements applied to Scotland and Northern Ireland.). Several methodologies are at work for reducing crimes. The situational method of crime prevention is one of them. The focus of the UK government ( for crime reduction is centred on the following area:

  • Raising the performance of the police and the Crime & Disorder reduction partnerships

  • Reducing burglary and property crime

  • Tackling vehicle crime

  • Dealing with disorder and anti-social behaviour

  • Dealing effectively with young offenders

  • Dealing effectively with adult offenders

  • Helping victims and witnesses

To achieve the objectives several initiatives were undertaken. The idea was to bring down crime incidence in a specified period of time. Crime reduction essentially applied several approaches that were practical and evidence based. The situational crime prevention was also amongst a very effective approach in this programme.

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