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

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Wider Context:

The context of CDRP’s working is quite wider on account of the problems that are required to be handled by them. It has been therefore decided as policy that these CDRPs would work closely with several other initiatives launched by the Government for various purposes. They are as under:

Crime and disorder reduction strategies should not be seen in isolation and recognition is required of their strategic contribution to other local and national initiatives. The key initiatives are:


  • Community strategies

  • Local Strategic Partnerships

  • Best value

  • National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal

  • Local Neighbourhood Renewal Strategies

  • The Neighbourhood Renewal Fund

  • Neighbourhood Management

  • Partner Agencies - Plans & strategies

  • Crime Reduction Strategy

  • Home Office Service Delivery Agreement

  • Crime Reduction Programme

  • National Drugs Strategy

  • Crime Reduction Directors

  • Local Government Public Service Agreement


Observations:
The Researcher made personal contacts with the official involved in the partnership. Informal discussions were held. Some observations emerged from this exercise are indicated below.
Structure and Performance of Partnership:
Notably, all partnerships work on the basis of a predefined blue print. The structural and functional parameters are on the statuary footing. Following positive characteristics are discernible from the study of Leicester Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership.


  1. Clarity of objectives: The partnership works with pre decided goals. The targets in terms are crime and disorder reductions are achievable and their out is also measurable.
  2. Specificity: such programmes are specific as they, depending upon the nature of local problems manipulates their strategies and resources. The Leicester partnership, for instance, focused on many issues that may not be priority in other regions. This involved racial issues and domestic violence. Notably, the population composition of this County is peculiar due the extensive concentration of several ethnic minorities which constitute about 45% of the total population.


  3. Statutory partnerships of multi agencies: This is a prominent feature of this arrangement where all the agencies will work in a formal arrangement. The element of accountability for each agency becomes obvious in this structure.

  4. Information Sharing: Crime is a multi faceted phenomenon. Any action plan on the part of law enforcement agencies require vital information of all varieties. With the involvement of agencies that process has become easier now.

  5. Institutionalisation: Many earlier efforts in this direction could not deliver the results because they were not institutionalised. The CDRPs do have this component and hence their chances of sustainability are far greater.

  6. Training: The CRDPs are given relevant training on the aspects like problem solving, SCP application, evaluation etc. The specially created Crime Reduction Centre at York in the UK organises the seminars and training events for the officials.

  7. Transparency: The community members can easily know the priorities and community safety concern of CRDPs as all partnerships have their website where they have to present their target and achievements etc.

  8. Raising Public Concern and debate on Crime: The CRDPs could be credited to have made the crime a public concern. The publicity and security awareness inculcated by the partnerships helped the police a lot.

  9. Comprehensiveness: The official recognition to the fact that crime can be prevented by targeting all aspects of civil and public life has facilitated a comprehensive understanding and action for crime reduction.

  10. The officials also cited funding crunch as one of the issues of concern.


CHAPTER – V




Situational Crime Prevention and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships: Some Observations

The relationship between the SCP and CRDP has already been discussed in this Report. To recapitulate in brief, the SCP is extensively being used as an approach to crime reduction. SCP as a tool is often applied by the CRDP officials. This approach has been quite effective in reducing the incidences of burglary, theft, robbery, and street crimes, vehicle crimes and anti social behaviour in various parts of the UK.

It will be too early to say that the partnership arrangements have got sustained and all is well with them. The partnerships are of new origin and they have so far not travelled very far. CRDPs do have an inbuilt system of evaluation. The Audit Commission evaluates the performance of partnerships. Besides, CRDPs have been subjected to several other evaluations carried out by individual experts and agencies. Incidentally, the Audit Commission’s research report on Community Safety Partnerships (2002) has been released recently. The initial remarks in the Report said: ‘Local partnerships have not made an obvious impact on community safety between 1999 and 2000. The Government and regulators need to work with the partner agencies to maximize their impact and to make neighborhoods safe for local people.’ (Audit Commission, 2002).
Against this backdrop, the present section aims at addressing the issue of situational crime prevention as may be perceived by the partnerships officials in terms of its efficacy and significance. In the second part of this section, an attempt has also been made to assess the issues and problems in the partnerships that may be experienced by the officials.

Methodology:

In order to achieve the objectives cited above, CRDPs officials attending a Home Office Seminar on Violent Crime, organised by the Crime Reduction Centre, York at Manchester (December 11th, 2003) were contacted by the Researcher. The total number of officials in the Seminar was 52 (Annexure ‘A’). However, the data collection could be materialised with 46 respondents only. A specially designed Questionnaire was circulated. Many of them have completed the questionnaire on the spot and a few of them preferred to send it by post later. Apart from this, separate discussions with the respondents were also held.

Observations:
The data collected from 46 respondents have been tabulated and presented in the following paragraphs.
Table 1 shows that majority (97.8%) of the officials were aware of the situational crime prevention methods.


Table- 1



Respondents’ Awareness about Situational crime prevention (N= 46)





Yes

No

Can’t Say

Frequency

45

01

00


Percentage


97.8

2.1

00

SCP is based on the ‘opportunity factor’. The idea was to know as to how many subscribe the notion of opportunity as a player in the crime event. A sizable (65.2) percent ) respondents ( Table-2) were affirmative to the fact that ‘opportunity makes the thief’.


Table – 2
Opinions on whether ‘ opportunity makes the thief’ ( N=46)





Yes

No


Can’t Say

Frequency

30

14

02


Percentage


65.2

30.4

4.3

An attempt was also made to know from the respondents about the extent of crime resulting from the availability of opportunities. Table- 3 shows that 58.7 percent respondents felt 76% or above crime resulted from opportunities. Another 26 percent thought found it up to 51% to 75%. In other words most officials subscribed to the above said notion.


Table- 3


Opinions on Extent of Crime Resulting from Opportunity (N=46)






Less than 25%

26% - 50%

51% - 75%

76% and above

Frequency

01

06

12

27


Percentage


2.1

13


26

58.7

The officials have been practicing several SCP measure in the field. The idea was to know the relative efficacy of such measures. Most officials conveyed that the application of measures vary according to the type of crime and one measure may be effective at one time or location and it may not work in other case or the location. The distribution of responses is indicated in Table –5.

Table – 5
Opinions on Most effective Situational crime prevention measure ( N= 46)


Category

Frequency

Percentage

Target hardening


29


63

Removing Vulnerable target

16

34.8

Removing means for crime commission

18

39.1

Improving visibility


12


26.08

Controlling access


30


65.21

There is always a debate about the efficacy of SCP measures in different types of crime. The respondents ( Table- 6 ) in the present study depicted their varied opinions about this issue. While most of them had little doubts about the effectiveness of SCP in case of theft( 89.1%) and burglary ( 84.8%) followed by even street crimes and personal crimes. But they found it lesser effective in cases like domestic violence, sex crimes and vandalism.


Table - 6
Crimes where the Situational crime prevention ( SCP) may be effective (N=46)






Frequency

Percentage

Theft

41

89.1

Burglary

39

84.8

Vandalism

19

41.3

Robberies

28

60.8

Street crimes

29

63.0

Domestic violence

06

13.0

Sex Crimes

09

19.5

Since the SCP does not claim to affect the root causes of crimes, many believe that it may not be able to make any long-term impact on crime rates. The respondents (Table 7) on these issues were divided less significantly as 58.7% thought so while a sizable were not of this notion.

Table – 7
Opinions on whether SCP makes long term impact on crime (N=46)




Yes

No

Can’t Say

Frequency

19


27

00

Percentage


41.3

58.7

00

In the UK, the CCTV, as a major SCP tool, is in extensive use to deter potential criminal. The officials were divided ( Table 8 )almost equally about the fact as to whether the offenders shift to other locations due to CCTV usage.


Table – 8
Opinions on whether the offenders shift to lesser-secured areas if they find CCTV or other type of Surveillance in some areas. ( N=46)





Yes

No

Can’t Say

Frequency

21


19

06

Percentage


45.7

41.3

13

Table –9 is about the utility of hot spot approach in SCP. Majority of officials (69.5 %) found it effective.



Table – 9



Opinions on whether ‘hot spots’ approach was effective in crime prevention. ( N=46)






Yes

No

Can’t Say

Frequency

32


09

O5

Percentage


69.5

19.5

10.8

There is a debate about the effects of applications of SCP measures. Criticism about SCP mainly stems from the ‘displacement’ that presumably occurs in the process. The details regarding the typology of displacement used in Table 10 has already been discussed in the preceding pages. The respondents were mainly asked about their reaction to such displacement in terms of its effects on crime prevention capacity of SCP measures.




Table –10


Opinions on whether the crime prevention remains successful in cases of following.




Categories

Frequency

Percentage

Geographical displacement


12

26

Temporal displacement

13

28.2

Target displacement

12

28.2

Tactical displacement

10

21.7

Crime type displacement

04

8.7

There are the ethical aspects of SCP too. The popular thinking is that too much of technology based prevention affects the human freedom. Most respondents (84.4%) on the matter whether the technological surveillance causes a ‘fortress society’ were affirmative ( Table 11 ).

Table – 11

Opinions on whether the technological surveillance casing a ‘fortress society’ (N=46)






Yes

No

Can’t Say

Frequency


39


04

03

Percentage


84.8

8.6

6.5

SCP is largely implemented by the Crime & Disorders Reduction partnerships (CDRP). This section is devoted to study the state of affairs pertaining to the various aspects of working of the partnerships and related matters.


At the outset, an attempt was made to know the respondents’ rating and assessment about the quality of performance of CDRPs. It was satisfying to note that ( Table 12) majority of respondents ( 78.3%) rated the CDRPs as ‘Very good’ or ‘Good’.

Table – 12


Rating of Crime and disorders reduction partnerships ( N=46)





Frequency

Percentage

Very Good


19

41.3

Good

17


37.0

Average


07

15.2

Poor


02

4.3

Very Poor



01

2.1

CDRPs are still in their infancy. This is transitional phase for them. Many opinions are voiced about them. Nevertheless, most officials ( 69.6%) covered in this study found the CDRP as a viable approach to crime reduction.


Table- 12

Rating on whether a Multi agency partnership is a viable strategy for crime reduction. ( N=46)





Yes

No

Can’t Say

Frequency

32

14

00


Percentage


69.6

30.4

00

Total











The CDRPs are highly specific and targeted. Table 12 shows that most officials ( 69.6%) had a feeling that the CDRPs have contributed effectively in reducing crime in the community.



Table –13

Opinions on whether the Partnerships have reduced crime (N=46)






Yes

No

Can’t Say

Frequency

32

14

00


Percentage


69.6

30.4

00

The CDRPs are a multi agency arrangement. The agencies involved in this structure do not have crime reduction as their primary responsibility. The apprehensions are there that the agencies may have the problems of sharing and performing together. Table 14 gives data on the level of satisfaction with job allocation to various agencies in CDRP. It can be seen that the officials were largely satisfied with this. But 32.6% of them had dissatisfaction with this.




Table 14
Opinions on whether the partners are satisfied with job distribution ( N=46)





Yes

No

Can’t Say

Frequency

31

15

00


Percentage

67.3

32.6

00


The involvement of agencies of diverse orientation and agenda can lead to conflicting situation. On studying this issue, it was found (Table – 15) that 39.15 & officials had the occasional conflicts and 23.9% always had the instances of conflict with fellow agencies and officials in the CDRP. However, 32.6% never had such experiences. This is a crucial finding as far as the future of CDRP is concerned.


Table 15

Occasions of conflict amongst agencies involved in partnerships ( N=46)






Frequency

Percentage

Always

11

23.9

Occasionally


18

39.1

Rare

15

32.6

Can’t say

02


4.3

The partnerships need improvements in many areas of structure and performance. The opinions of officials on this issue are delineated in Table 16. The funding and administration are the key areas emerged in this study requiring immediate attention.


Table 16



Areas in need of improvement in partnerships ( N=46)






Frequency

Percentage

Administration

21

45.6

Implementation

17

36.9

Job distribution

12

26.0

Reward distribution

18

39.1

Evaluation

17

36.9

Funding

39

84.7

A variety of SCP techniques are in vogue. Depending upon crimes, and other factors they are applied. Some twenty-five SCP techniques of SCP have been identified in this study. An effort was made to know the relative efficacy of these techniques from the viewpoint of the CDRPs’ officials covered in the present study. The rating of these techniques in relative terms made by 46 respondents could be seen in Table- 17.





Poor

Not effective

Average

Effective enough

Very effective




Target hardening


01

06

11

25

03




Control Access


01

02

07

27

09




Screen Exits


01

06

18

15

06




Deflect Offenders


03

09

18

12

01




Control tools/weapons

00

01

24

10

12


*Extend guardianship


02

18

20

06

00




Assist natural surveillance

02

12

05

27

00




Reduce anonymity

01

07

25

10

02




Utilise place managers

02

03

15

24

02




Formal surveillance

01

02

10

20

13




*Conceal targets


00

10

30

05

01




Removal of targets

01

05

15


20

05




Identify property


00

02

03

29

12




Disrupt market


02

16

20

02

03




Deny benefits


00

05

24

10

07




*Reduced frusteration/stress

02

10

19

15

00




Avoid disputes


01

11

18

16

00




Reduce emotional arousal

01

10

15

14

06


Neutralize peer pressure


00

12

13

15

06




Discourage imitation

02

10

10

22

02




*Set rules


02

03

10

25

06




Post instructions


00

01

12

28

05




Alert conscience


01

00

03

35

08




Assist compliance

00

00

02

39

05




Control drugs/alcohol

00

00

00

35

11




Table – 17 Respondents’ Rating of 25 SCP Techniques

CHAPTER – VI





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