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

Situational crime prevention & Crime Reduction Tools


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Situational crime prevention & Crime Reduction Tools

1. SARA – Scanning, Analysis, Response, Assessment

2 The Problem Analysis Triangle
3.SMART Objectives – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.
4 Risk analysis.
Crime Reduction and SCP- Role of Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRP)
The Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) are a combination of police, local authorities and other organisations and businesses that have banded together to develop and implement strategies for tackling crime and disorder on a local level. There are 376 partnerships in England and Wales.

The Crime & Disorder Act 1998 places obligations on local authorities, the police, police authorities, health authorities and probation committees (amongst others) to co-operate in the development and implementation of a strategy for tackling crime and disorder in their area. These organisations have to consider changed working practices, internal priorities and their relationships both with other agencies and with the wider community

These partnerships are working to reduce crime and disorder in their area by:

  • Establishing the levels of crime and disorder problems in their area, and consulting widely with the population of that area to make sure that the partnership’s perception matches that of local people, especially minority groups, such as gay men and lesbians, or members of ethnic minorities.

  • Devising a strategy containing measures to tackle those priority problems. This is to include targets, and target owners for each of the priority areas. The strategy will last for three years, but must be kept under review by the partnership

In this section we are not focusing on the various aspects of partnerships as elsewhere in this study a separate analysis of a case study on a partnership has been given. The point to be highlighted here is that the partnerships are developing their own programme depending on the crime challenges in their respective areas. The SCP as a methodology can easily be seen in the strategies developed by these partnerships. Several anti burglary initiatives, anti robbery programmes, street crime and vehicle crime reduction etc have successfully applied several SCP methods. The increasing use of CCTV, alarms, electronic surveillance, target hardening and access control through various devises are the manifestations of SCP methods.

Situational crime prevention – Important development

The idea of SCP traces its origin in the U.K. (Clarke, 1997). This statement appears to be correct. But the present structure of SCP was a gradual process. Infact, it has been the part of crime prevention history in the UK. A number of policy developments in the UK had something to do with the present idea of SCP. Hughes, McLaughlin and Muncie (2003) tracked down the history of crime prevention efforts in the UK.

The information given in Table below is an edited version adopted from Hughes, McLaughlin and Muncie (2003). This provides the progression of crime prevention initiatives in the UK over a period of time.

Key developments in Crime prevention since 1975

Crime as opportunity

Designing out crime

Coordinating crime prevention efforts

Situational crime prevention

First British Crime survey report

Crime prevention unit set up

Home office standing conference

First crime prevention unit paper

Five Town Initiative

Gas and suicide

Safer Cities

Crime Concern 1988

First Kirkholt Report

Crash Helmets & motor bike theft

Home Office Circular 44/99

Morgan report

Police Research Group set up

First CCTV challenge

Repeat Victimization task Force set up

First issue of International Journal of Risk, Security and Crime Prevention

Policing and Reducing Crime Unit set up

‘Opportunity Makes the Thief’- PRS- 98

Crime & Disorder Act

Beating Crime

Crime Reduction Programme

Safety in Numbers

Crime targets Task Force

Calling Time on Crime

The Home Office Policing and Crime Reduction Directorate

Appointment of Regional Crime Directors

Tool kit for Crime Reduction

Launch of Community Safety Journal

Community Safety Partnership, The Audit Commission Report


































While discussing the aspects of crime reduction and SCP measures, it would be in order to have an overview of crime trends in the UK.

Crime Trends

The main source of understanding the crime trends in the UK is crime statistics brought by the Home Office, London in their periodic ‘ Home Office Statistical Bulletin’. The document provides a comparative picture of the both- crime recorded by the police and the crimes surveyed by the ‘ British Crime survey ’. The Survey methodology includes all ingredients of victimization surveys. They are based on the samples drawn from all parts of the country. Needless to state that the Surveys are intended to add a dimension of reliability to oft-doubted crime statistics.

The purpose in this section is to underline the crime scenario in the country and analysis of crime reduction techniques vis-à-vis it. The crime scene presented in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin on Crime and England and Wales 2002/03 and the 2001British Crime Survey (BCS) presents a highly satisfactory scenario. The BCS findings showed whole downward trends in crime. The Main trends are as under:

  • Burglary was down 21% from 1997 to its lowest level since 1991

  • The number of vehicles stolen was down by 11% from its 1997 level

  • Theft from vehicles was down by 16%

  • Violence was down by 4%, including wounding which was down by 11%

  • The proportion of people who were victims of some type of crime once or more during 1999 fell from 34% to 30% to its lowest overall victimisation rate since 1983.

  • The few exceptions to the downward trend, however, were robbery (up 14%) and theft from the person, which saw a 4% increase.

  • There was a 19% decrease in acquaintance violence but a 29% increase in stranger violence. Muggings and domestic violence frequencies were unchanged.

  • The survey shows that people continued to overestimate the problem of crime, despite the overall fall in crime. One third of householders believed the national crime rate had increased "a lot" between 1997 and 1999 - a perception at odds with both the BCS and the offences recorded by the police.

Critical Trends

During last 100 years the trends in crimes in the UK have shown a continual rise. However, since early 1990’s, there has been a reversal in these trends except for violent crime. The apprehensions are expressed (Audit Commission Report, 2000) that there is a need to adopt crime reduction initiatives to target crimes that are likely to stem from economic or demographic influences.

A further analysis of the crime data in the UK presents a crucial scene. Personal robberies, violent crimes, vehicle crimes and incidence of domestic crime (in certain pockets) demand immediate attention. A special concern over the unsatisfactory rate of crime detection and conviction was also expressed in the Home Office White paper on the Police reform. The Report said that Police performance is too variable. The recorded crime detection rate for burglaries varied between 43.5% and 7.9%, and for robbery between 50.8% and 14.4% at force level. The variations and lack of consistency in policing across the country cannot be justified. Further, this Report also remarked that maintaining the confidence of the public is critical if the police are to continue to reduce crime and disorder.

The scenario portrayed above justifies the need to respond crime more instantly and effectively.


Situational Crime Prevention Techniques

Apparently, the SCP comprises specially customized measures to reduce the opportunity for specific crimes. The SCP techniques or measures signify the control, planning and manipulation of the immediate environment or setting in as systematic and permanent a manner as possible. The measures are meant to transmit a massage to likely offenders that the attempts required to execute crime and the risks associated have amplified, and that the pay offs that can be attained through crime have significantly diminished.

The SCP applies highly specific techniques in the opportunity reduction for any offending behaviour. Ranges of such technological and managerial initiatives have shown encouraging results in the UK. The performance of these initiatives was made visible in several evaluation studies carried out in the UK. Clarke (1997) has developed a sixteen techniques model for opportunity reduction that is being used everywhere with appropriate modifications. In a paper developed by the Surrey Community Safety Unit (structure of this model is based on the Clarke’s model), the results of opportunity reductions have been discussed. It would be interesting to have a look as to how these techniques are put in to practice.
1. Target hardening

Securing the target with the help of technologies/designs/tactics is called target hardening. This is also about making targets more resistant to attack or more difficult to remove or damage. The use of locks, screen, and shields are some popular ways. The use of a slur rejecter devise has significantly reduced the use of slur in parking machines and London Underground trains. Likewise, the use of transparent screen and anti-bandit screens are considered to have cut down assaults incidence and robberies in the UK by 40 percent. The target hardening has a success story in case of postal stores robberies too. Many stores in England have small postal counters in a corner of the store. These handle a lot of money and are attractive targets for robbers. In the early 1980s, the postal counters in London had a bigger problem than usual with robberies, even though most of them had "anti-bandit" screens. Most of the robberies involved people trying to break down the screens with sledgehammers or their bare hands, pointing guns at the staff behind the screens, or attacking other staff or customers outside the secure area and forcing the staff behind the screen to let the robbers in. After upgrading the screens to be more resistant to attack, robberies dropped by 40% (Ekblom, 1987). This further facilitated the target hardening. A mention of electronic surveillance in target hardening will be appropriate here. The Electronic article surveillance (EAS) is a method to discourage shoplifting. Introduced in 1968-69, this technology has proved to be an effective anti-shoplifting measure. This electronic technique is about an electronically detectable element that is attached on the article. The transmitters and receivers at the exit of shops can immediately detect the article if someone tries to take it away (Dilonarado, 1997).

2. Access Control

This measure is applied to ‘defend space’ by checking the offenders’ access to offices, factories, apartments or in any buildings. In the UK this has resulted in good amount of risk reduction. The measures like use of PIN numbers for accessing bank accounts or computer, installation of entry phones, dialling the code to gain access have considerably cut the incidence of burglary, thefts, and robberies in the UK.

3. Deflecting offenders

This situational measure applies the logical segregation or exclusion of likely offenders. For instance, the rival groups of fans in football matches in Britain segregated in the stadia to avoid violent clashes. To avoid the incidence of brawls in the closing time of pubs, the scheduling of last buses with the closing time of pubs has worked significantly. Street closures, separate public facilities for women and rescheduling the conveyance routes at the time of public functions are similar such measures.

4. Controlling facilitators

The studies in the Britain of injury of potential kinds of broken glass have led to recommendations that toughened or plastic material glasses be used in the pubs and beer bars. Disabling the stolen cell phones or similar goods was found be another effective way in this regard.

5. Entry/exit screening

The electronic methods of screening in entry and exit checking are in use in all important points in the UK.

6. Formal Surveillance.

The police, security guards or detective personnel provide this form of surveillance. The use of burglar alarm and CCTV is being prominently used. The country wide use of Home office sponsored CCTV initiatives have minimised the crime incidence to its lowest ever. According to sources (, under the Crime Reduction Programme of CCTV Initiative around £170 million will be spent on 684 CCTV schemes. The findings to this effect have been shown in some CCTV evaluation studies. Existing Home Office Research and other evaluations indicate that CCTV can be effective in reducing crime and fear of crime and in helping the police detect crime and convict criminals as part of an overall strategy. Studies, for example, show a 41% overall decrease in vehicle crime in car parks where CCTVs were installed - contributing to the Governments overall target of a national 30% reduction in vehicle crime by 2004. Infact, the CCTV has emerged one of the most powerful situational crime prevention tools. This has saved the community, people and establishment throughout the UK. Some of the live case studies can be seen at- The major areas of intervention by this tool are- missing persons, weapons incidents, assaults, smuggling, intelligence gathering, street management, counter terrorism etc. The latest remote monitoring technology has come in now that enables the pictures transmition down the phone lines to a Central Monitoring Station. The guards can then move cameras, deliver audio warnings and switch on lights all from a remote location.

Another measure in the same category is that of alarms. The utilisation of this technique in planned ways has already delivered effective outcomes in crime reduction in the developed part of world. Intruder detection systems have proved immensely effective for warning of the presence of an intruder in residential premises, commercial official and school buildings. In many cases, police respond quickly enough so that the offender or offenders are caught. If they are not caught, they are at least discouraged from coming back and often leave the property they were attempting to steal behind. There are now improved versions of various alarms like Tecom® system. It has the capacity to provide more than just intruder detection. This system has the capacity for additional devices such as smoke or glass break detectors to be incorporated to support other preventative measures against specific problems such as broken windows or arson attacks. Intruder detection systems have traditionally used the telephone line as their sole means of communication. With the development of Telstra's Mobile Data® network, there is a more economical tamper proof alternative. Mobile Data® uses the UHF radio digital data network to provide a secure, fast and economical means of communication

7. Surveillance by employees

The incidence of vandalism was cut down in the UK because of resident caretakers. The two third reduction was also seen in offences following the appointment of attendants in the parking area during high-risk time.

8. Natural surveillance

There are host of people in a position to observe and see around. They may be neighbours, staff, students or parents, hall hirers, sports clubs or in fact anyone who has a legitimate reason to be on the site. Creating the opportunity to see involves: creation of a surveillance zone through trees and shrubs, where trees are pruned up and shrubs are trimmed down to provide a corridor of visibility; ensuring that shrubs and trees do not shield buildings from nearby premises and roads; ensuring that lighting enhances surveillance by illuminating clearly all buildings and areas in the school and target directed lighting, target hardening, territorial re-enforcement

General measures like neighbourhood upkeep in terms of good amount of street lights and whistle making can have wide ranging applications. Appearing pretty simple and routine, these measures do contribute in situational crime prevention. The researches in the UK have shown that because streets were lighter there were fewer opportunities for offenders. The street lighting played a part in generating a more cohesive community; people had more pride in their area. The benefits of street lighting continued into adjacent areas

9. Target removal

This is about reducing the vulnerability by shifting or removing the target from risk situation. The use of phone cards and steel cover in public phones has reduced the attacks on them. The removal of gas and electronic coin meters that were the frequent target of thefts reduced the incidence significantly.

10 Identifying properties

Identifying properties by marking or engraving useful details helped the detection in large among of thefts and burglary. The marking of postcode on goods also give an idea of their location when the same are recovered as stolen goods.

11 Denying benefits

During the California Gold Rush, more than 150 years ago, stagecoach robberies were plaguing silver mine. So they started casting the silver into 400-pound blocks. These blocks were too heavy for a bandit on horseback, or even a gang of them, to carry off.

The offenders normally get frustrated when they fail to make use of stolen goods.

The cases of credit cards fraud have always been a serious problem in Britain. In the year 2000 alone the cost of such frauds was £ 425 million. The new technology of computer aided chip and use of pin in credit card has produced good results in denying the benefits to cheaters and frauds. The SCP worked remarkably against thefts and burglaries in the UK. Notably, theft and burglaries are major offences in the UK. Using the ‘denying benefit’ approach, attention is being paid to effect a crackdown on the markets and transactions of stolen goods. This technique is known as ‘market reduction approach’ discourages the thieves when they find no conduits to sell the stolen goods (Sutton et al, 2001). The graffiti cleaning and use of speed humps are in the same direction. The displays of one piece of shoe or part of a devise that cannot of any use are the example of this technique.

12. Reducing frustration and stress

At crowded places, the efficient queuing and polite handling by the dealers are capable of managing the situational bursts out. The expanded and convenient seating, passage, and soothing effect of music on such public or semi public places tend to cut down the possibilities of individual or collective aggression.

13 The other situational measures

There are several other efficient measures that have produced good results. Rule setting, peer pressure, post instructions, alert conscience, assist compliance, control of drug and alcohol are a few of them.

Many ordinary people commit less-serious crimes, despite realizing that they shouldn’t. They are motivated by reasoning like "This store is more costlier," or "I always work overtime and don't get paid enough," or "This store is so big, they won't miss this one pair of pants."

The following set of crime prevention techniques involves increasing the pressure on people to do what they know is right in the first place.

1) Set Rules or Procedures that Explain Acceptable Conduct - For example, implementing a refund policy at a retail store can reduce the amount of refund fraud.

2) Remind People that the Offence is Wrong - Signs in New York City's Port Authority bus terminal read "Smoking here is illegal, selfish, and rude."

3) Limit Access to Things that Reduce People's Abilities to Think - The best example of this is alcohol.

4) Make it Easy for People to "Do the Right Thing." - Put a cash register right by the door, or put a garbage can just outside your small grocery so people won't litter so much.

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