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

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Fixing broken window: In their work, James Q. Wilson and George Kelling have explained as to how a sense of neglect of community in terms its upkeep and order affects the chain of crimes. Restoring order in possible manners can be of immense value to crime reduction efforts.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
The basic idea in CPTED is that the physical environment can be changed or manipulated to produce behavioural effects and changes leading to the resultant reduction in the incidence and fear of crime, thereby improving the quality of life, and enhancing profitability for business. Like all situational crime prevention strategies, CPTED has as one of its primary aims to reduce the opportunity for specific crimes to occur. Where CPTED differs from traditional target hardening strategies is that the techniques employed seek to use environmental factors to affect the perceptions of all users of a given space – addressing not only the opportunity for the crime but also perceptions of fear on the part of those who may otherwise be victims.

Drawing heavily on behavioural psychology, CPTED concepts and strategies take advantage of the relationships that exist between people and their environments. The way we react to an environment is more often than not determined by the cues we are picking up from that environment. Those things that make normal or legitimate users of a space feel safe (such as good lighting), make abnormal or illegitimate users of the same space feel unsafe in pursuing undesirable behaviours (such as stealing from motor vehicles). (

The ‘Hot’ Analysis

The identification and elimination of vulnerable or ‘hot’ locations and objects is the key approach in SCP. The crime ‘reductionists’ have developed remarkable understanding in this area. A software exploring hot spot is also available now ( The main contention in the approach is that much crime can be avoided if resources and managerial planning is timely employed. Following are some significant measures in this process (Clarke, 1999).

  1. Exploration of Hot points - the places with higher level of incidents concentration.

  2. Identification of Hot places – the geographic locations, which attract larger criminal attention due several vulnerability factors.

  3. Analysis of Hot routes – certain routes are relatively unsafe. They facilitate criminal movement.

  4. Identification of Hot objects – crime is also directed in greater amount towards special goods and substances due their value and access. Electronic instruments and objects are, for instance, come in this category.

  5. Recognizing Hot people – certain people are more prone to criminal offending behaviour. They may be targeted more frequently due their peculiar set of characteristics.

New Developments

The SCP is about managerial skills and tactical planning. Recently, the companies involved in the manufacturing of security devises have shown immense interests in developing new solutions to the crimonogenic problems experienced by the people in their day-to-day life. The use of personal alarms, for example, amongst the foreign female students in urban towns is getting popular as this gives them a confidence that in the event of any street crime or offending advancements the same can be used to attract public attention. This small devise has become an article in the bags of such persons who require much of their time away from home. The Observer (April 27, 2003) reported that Karrysafe, the first company in Europe to design bags and fashion accessories, which protect users against street crime, was launched in 2001. It created bags with built in alarms. The bags guard against the four top methods of street theft: 'dipping' (by pickpockets), grabbing, lifting and slashing. If grabbed, for example, the strap gives way, allowing the thief to take the bag without resorting to violence. Then it triggers a 138-decibel alarm that they cannot turn off.

Anti-crime measures have been taken to the level of fabric too. 'Techno-textiles' are increasingly being used to foil criminals, with polymers such as Kevlar and Nomex, which are stab-, slash-, and bulletproof, incorporated into bag and jacket designs. Levi's has already produced an 'e-wear' jacket, in conjunction with Philips. Pioneered at MIT in Boston, 'e-wear' has become a strong interest area for electronics and clothing manufacturers. With street crime on the rise, a key issue is the portability and visibility of items such as mobile phones, personal stereos and computers. The Levi's jacket was an attempt to design a garment that could both carry, with comfort, these items, while protecting the wearer.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many designers see a day when the victim of a street assault may be able to ward off an attacker with ease. They cite fabrics that can change state to become 'anti-touch' (suddenly sharp for example), or light up and emit an alarm. These garments could be made from impenetrable fabrics and, on attack, release a permanent stain to mark out the perpetrator.

Summing it up, the SCP measures are constantly getting upgraded. New measure will continue to emerge for responding newer type of criminality.


Situational Crime Prevention in Action

As said earlier that the SCP has prominently figured as one of the strategies of the Home Office Crime Reduction programmes in the UK. Besides, there are several non-Governmental agencies too who have made use of this technique. It is not possible to make mention of each and every such initiative. This section of the Report intends to provide a brief overview of some of the programmes where the SCP was functional as one of the strategies.

Specific Initiatives

1. Secured by Design (SBD) is a police initiative to encourage the building industry to adopt crime prevention measures in development of design to assist in reducing the opportunity for crime and the fear of crime, creating a safer and more secure environment. ‘Secured by Design’ is endorsed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and has the backing of the Home Office Crime Reduction Unit. It has been drawn up in consultation with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR)." It's claimed that estates constructed along SBD principles suffer 30-50% fewer crimes per household than other estates. (

2. The Safer Communities Initiative (SCI) is provided for Partnerships to:

  • deliver a complementary activity plan of situational and social crime reduction interventions, based on what works and which secure the maximum impact on crime reduction outcomes.

  • deliver a range of activities which is aligned with, and complementary to, the Communities Against Drugs programme and has robust links with Neighbourhood Renewal funding.

  • build the capacity required to deliver strategies successfully, and lever in other sources of funding.

3. Safe Street: Securing safe streets is essential to every community's well-being. As a result of community efforts across the nation, crime rates have fallen dramatically. In addition to helping communities put more police on the streets, the Federal government has been working in innovative ways to improve both enforcement and prevention. New communications technologies are helping law enforcement officials share and act on information faster than ever before. Court systems and police officers are teaming with local schools to help students become responsible members of their communities and resist negative pressures. These efforts and others listed below are allowing children to play, parents to reduce their worrying and allowing neighbourhoods to flourish. ("

4. The Building Safer Communities (BSC) fund, announced by the Home Secretary in January 2003, is a key element of the Government's crime reduction strategy. The fund is aimed at helping communities to:

  • disrupt local drug markets;

  • tackle drug-related crime and associated disorder and strengthen the ability of communities to resist drugs and act against drug misuse;
  • deliver a complementary activity plan of situational and social crime reduction interventions, based on what works and which secure the maximum impact on crime reduction outcomes;

  • deliver a range of activities which are aligned with, complementary to, and have robust links with Neighbourhood Renewal funding;

  • build the capacity required to deliver strategies successfully, and lever in other sources of funding.

5. Reducing Burglary Initiative (RBI): Crime reduction by way of SCP has been visibly successful in case of burglaries in the UK. Infact, the Home Office in the UK has particularly encouraged such initiatives. The Reducing Burglary Initiative (RBI) was a major programme since the launch of Crime Reduction in the year 1998 by the Home Office. Some 247-burglary reduction projects were sanctioned that covered 2.1 million households that have suffered around 110,000burglarioes. In March 1999, the Reducing Burglary Initiative (RBI) funded 63 Strategic Development Projects (SDPs) with the funding about £ 60,000 each. The evaluation carried out by the independent agencies and experts were reported by Kodz and Pease, (2003). The findings in the SDPs area showed that burglaries rates fell in 40 of the 55 SDPs areas. The rates of burglaries were compared with non-project areas and it was found that the rates the project areas achieved 15% to 20% reduction ( Kodz and Pease, 2003).

It may be notable here in four most successful SDP areas- Rochdale, Fordbridge, Solihul, Yew Tree, Sandwell and Strichley, Birmingham the rates were reduced by 37%,12%, 47%, 46% respectively when compared in 2000 with 1998. These projects applied several measures of SCP like ‘alley gating’, street lighting property marking and target hardening of various forms.

6. Vehicle Crime Reduction Team( VCRT): In 1998, this scheme was launched. The trends in crime against vehicles in the UK have always been disturbing. The current figures ( 2002-3) of all types of vehicle crimes, as per BCS estimates, are 23.66 million. This scheme is a strategic initiative to cut the incidence. The target was to reduce this crime by 30% ( Sallybanks & Brown, 1999).
7. Hot product Focus : Clarke ( 1999) reported that certain ways to prevent theft in many studies. The list includes parts marking (Rhodes, 1997), electronic key systems (Hazelbaker, 1997), vehicle tracking devices (Ayres and Levitt, 1998), and security-coded radios (Braga and Clarke, 1994). An even wider range of successes has been reportedd in reducing robberies for cash, including in banks ( Gabor,1990; Grandjean, 1990; Clarke et al., 1991), sub-post offices (Ekblom,1987), betting shops (Clarke and McGrath, 1990), convenience stores (Hunter and Jeffery (1997) and buses (Stanford Research Institute, 1970). This apart, the growing use of plastic cards for payment and the ATM are also in the same direction.

Clarke ( 1997) has compiled several case studies where SCP worked successfully. The main techniques in these SCP were: controlling facilitator in case of credit card and fraud ( Masuda,1997), deflecting offenders in case of shop thefts in city centers ( Poyner and Webb, 1997), denying benefits by reducing the rewards in shoplifting (DiLonardo & Clarke, 1996), formal surveillance in case of thefts by employees (Masuda, 1996),target hardening in case of robberies in post office ( Ekblom, 1997).

8. Street Crime Initiatives ( SCI): This was started in March 2002 involving ten police forces. This programme resulted in substantial crime reduction. There has been, for example, a 10% reduction in the number of robberies compared to last year; in real terms this means over 4,600 less offences. Specific measures also showed:

  • An increase in adults remanded from 53% to 63%;

  • A reduction in unconditional bail for juveniles of 34% to 26%, an increase of conditional bail from 47% to 53% and an increase in remands from 18% to 21%;

  • The Metropolitan Police and the West Midlands, who have the largest robbery problems, report 33% fewer young victims of street crime over the summer.

9. CCTV Initiatives : A brief account of CCTV initiative has already presented in the Report. The CCTV performance and planning can also be seen at a special website -

There are 684 CCTV schemes in the UK worth over £17omillion. Evaluation Studies show a 41% overall decrease in vehicle crime in car parks where CCTV has been installed - contributing to the Government’s overall target of a national 30% reduction in vehicle crime by 2004.

10. Designing out Crime: The crime reduction based on the environmental panning and space management fall in this category. The Bristol City Council and local police Architectural Liaison Officers (ALOs) have jointly developed a set of guidelines that ensures that the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) are reflected in all planning applications that are subject to agreed criteria. There are many studies in the UK which have examined several interventions based on the designing out principles. Local authorities have been granted powers to seek the closure of alleyways in many areas, where the alleys facilitate burglary, robbery, drug dealing and arson. These alleyways no longer serve the purposes for which they were designed - in many cases decades ago.( ).The demolition of walkways were removed in many buildings in the UK as they tended to facilitate theft and acts of vandalism.

Other Crime Reduction Initiatives of the Home Office: Following are the other initiatives for reducing crime initiated by the Home office.

  • Rural Crime

  • Safer Schools

  • Safer Hospitals

  • Technologies for Improving Home Security

  • Communities against Drugs

  • Small Retailers in Deprived Areas.

  • Crime stoppers

Techno-based Measures:
The Home Office Policing & Crime Reduction Group is developing technology-based strategies, which are now delivering effective crime reduction initiatives and toolkits, to the police service and community partnership teams. Delivered products include:
Electronic article surveillance (EAS) is a method to discourage shoplifting. Introduced in 1968-69, this technology has proved to 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.
The Home Office Chipping of Goods Initiative:

The “Chipping of Goods” Initiative has been allocated £5.5 million for demonstrator pilots that show how property crime can be reduced throughout the retail supply chain using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) based information management systems.

Other Initiatives:

  • Setting standards for standalone alarm technology for the police service;

  • Developing strategies for the use of digital imaging technology.

  • Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) for Alarms

  • Alternative Transmission Systems
  • E tailing based measures and advise

  • Foresight Crime Reduction document “Turning the Corner”

  • The Crime Reduction Website

  • Foresight

Crime Technology programme: The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the UK has been instrumental in developing technology for preventing crime. The EPSRC’s expenditure on crime-related research across all

programmes exceeded £7 million. Projects supported included image processing, person recognition, cryptography, financial transaction security, digital watermarks, biometrics, product security, computer security, investigation-management systems, screening equipment, forensics, DNA analysis, and explosives detection (

A practical Guide to Crime Prevention: This is a Home Office Booklet, which a number of Universities have helpfully put on the Web for student use. (
SCP Applications in selected problems:
It can be good idea to see the SCP in action, as has been reported in several studies conducted either on behalf of the Home office or independently. In order to provide a comprehensive picture of various SCP methods used in different crime reduction schemes, a tabular display available at is being reproduced here.


Reasoning mechanism

Summary of research findings

Car park security enhancements

Controlled access/ Increased natural surveillance makes crime harder and more risky.

Research covering car parks in London and elsewhere found that risks of theft were highest in unstaffed car parks, especially those where cars were left for long periods.

Staffed entrances greatly reduced theft of vehicles, though theft of contents could still be a problem.

Car parks where attendants parked the cars had by far the lowest rates of theft.

Thefts of components and contents were found to be higher where car parks served as pedestrian thoroughfares.

(Clarke & Mayhew, 1998)

Examples of significant reductions in crime in Secured Car Parks are found in the published report of the Vehicle Crime Reduction Action Team.

Enhance new car security

Target hardening.

Enhancing new car security is important as part of a package of vehicle crime reduction measures. However, on its their own higher levels of security may not necessarily reduce the risk of theft, especially theft from vehicles.

(Clarke & Harris, 1992)

Fitting approved security devices

Added security makes vehicles harder to steal

Inconclusive. (Schemes that rely on motorists coming forward tend to attract the more security conscious drivers.)

(Brown & Billing, 1996)

The Sold Secure study found that vehicles with an approved device fitted to them were less likely to be stolen than the population of cars as a whole. High and low risks of theft associated with cars fitted with security were calculated at between 2.8 and 18.5 thefts per 1,000 compared to 21 thefts per 1,000 in the general population.

Improve lighting

Better lighting will deter thieves and make detection more likely.

Small-scale studies suggest that better lighting may reduce crime and incivilities in localised areas, at least in the short term.

An evaluation of area-wide lighting improvements found these were popular and reassuring for the public but did not reduce crime to any great extent.

(Atkins et al, 1991)

Increase CCTV coverage

Cameras will either:

Deter thieves

Aid detection

Support successful prosecutions

Can be effective where it is clear what impact the scheme is meant to have, and where the right conditions are in place for the cameras to have the intended effect.

Works best as part of an integrated and evolving package of measures.

(Tilley, 1993)

Informant hotlines

Rewards, freephone number and anonymity will generate information leading to arrests.

Schemes are in general highly productive in recovering stolen property/successful prosecutions.

May be less suited to petty car theft where most offenders are juveniles.

(Clarke & Harris, 1992)

Motor education projects

Channelling young people’s interest in vehicles in positive directions can deter them from offending / re-offending & remove some of the motivation for theft.

Motor projects can and do work where they are carefully targeted and managed and run professionally to exacting criteria. Factors essential for success include careful targeting of participants, clear aims, good developmental programmes and incentives for participants to stay involved.

(Smith, 1999)

Raise public awareness/change driver behaviour

People can (but often fail to) take simple steps to protect themselves from being victimised.

Research on the role of publicity campaigns in anti-burglary strategies found that these could be effective as part of a wider strategy. Some of the strategies assessed also covered vehicle crime. Caveats are that publicity should not be over-optimistic and that brand names should not be over-used as this dilutes their impact.

(Stockdale & Graham 1995).

Repeat victimisation

Crime can be reduced by protecting victims from further crime.

UK research indicates that repeat victimisation initiatives can have some success in reducing thefts from vehicles. Initiatives targeting vehicles, owners and locations create greater scope to make an impact. (Chenery et al, 1997)

Secure by design

Crime can be reduced by making it harder and more risky to commit.

Vehicles less vulnerable when parked within property boundaries.

(BCS, 1994, Clarke and Mayhew)

Targeted policing of hotspots

The more precisely patrol presence is concentrated at the ‘hotspots’ the less crime there will be at those places and times.

US evidence is that this is an effective strategy for dealing with local problems.

(Goldblatt & Lewis, 1998)

Displacement is not just crime moving from one location to another. It can include an offender changing his/her behaviour, committing a different offence, committing the original offence at a different time, using a different method or selecting a different target. Hesseling (1994) reviewed 55 published articles on crime prevention measures and found that 40% showed no displacement at all; and, of that 40%, 28% showed diffusion (the spread of beneficial influence of an intervention beyond the places directly targeted etc.)

Target known offenders

Crimes can be reduced by disrupting offenders’ methods/routines.

The higher the police arrest rate for high risk offenders the lower the rates of crime.

Targeting repeat offenders appears to be worthwhile.

(Goldblatt & Lewis, 1998)

Recent research points to the benefits of targeting repeat serious traffic offenders, in particular those convicted of driving while disqualified.

(Rose, 2000)

Targeting the market in stolen goods

Reducing the market for stolen goods will reduce incentives/incitement for theft.

Some evidence that difficulties in disposing of stolen property can deter inexperienced thieves from reoffending, while active ‘fences’ encourage more offending. Strategies for reducing illicit markets are being tested.

(Sutton, 1998)

Vehicle watch/

Over 25s schemes

Stolen vehicles will be easier to detect when being driven late at night/by younger drivers.

Can be reassuring to the public / good for police-community relations, and may have a place in clearly defined neighbourhoods suffering from high rates of vehicle crime.

However, schemes are unlikely to deter offenders. Rigorously policed they are also extremely resource intensive for the police.

(Honess & Maguire, 1993)


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