Crime prevention

Crime prevention

Crime prevention is the attempt to reduce victimization and to deter crime and criminals. It is applied specifically to efforts made by governments to reduce crime, enforce the law, and maintain criminal justice.



Criminologists such as Gottfredson, McKenzie, Eck, Farrington, Sherman, Waller and others have been at the forefront of analyzing what works to prevent crime. Prestigious commissions and research bodies, such as the World Health Organization, United Nations, the United States National Research Council, the UK Audit Commission and so on, have analyzed their and others' research on what lowers rates of interpersonal crime.

They agree that governments must go beyond law enforcement and criminal justice to tackle the risk factors that cause crime because it is more cost effective and leads to greater social benefits than the standard ways of responding to crime. Interestingly, multiple opinion polls also confirm public support for investment in prevention. Waller uses these materials in Less Law, More Order to propose specific measures to reduce crime as well as a crime bill.

Some of the highlights of these authorities are set out below with some sources for further reading. The World Health Organization Guide (2004) complements the World Report on Violence and Health (2002) and the 2003 World Health Assembly Resolution 56-24 for governments to implement nine recommendations, which were:

  1. Create, implement and monitor a national action plan for violence prevention.
  2. Enhance capacity for collecting data on violence.
  3. Define priorities for, and support research on, the causes, consequences, costs and prevention of violence.
  4. Promote primary prevention responses.
  5. Strengthen responses for victims of violence.
  6. Integrate violence prevention into social and educational policies, and thereby promote gender and social equality.
  7. Increase collaboration and exchange of information on violence prevention.
  8. Promote and monitor adherence to international treaties, laws and other mechanisms to protect human rights.
  9. Seek practical, internationally agreed responses to the global drugs and global arms trade.

The authoritative commissions agree on the Role of Municipalities, because they are best able to organize the strategies to tackle the risk factors that cause crime. The European Forum for Urban Safety and the United States Conference of Mayors have stressed that municipalities must target the programs to meet the needs of youth at risk and women who are vulnerable to violence.

To succeed, they need to establish a coalition of key agencies such as schools, job creation, social services, housing and law enforcement around a diagnosis.


Elements Necessary for a Crime to Occur

  1. Desire or motivation on the part of the criminal
  2. The skills and tools needed to commit the crime
  3. Opportunity

Primary prevention address individual and family level factors correlated with later criminal participation. Individual level factors such as attachment to school and involvement in pro-social activities decrease the probability of criminal involvement.

Family level factors such as consistent parenting skills similarly reduce individual level risk. Risk factors are additive in nature. The greater the number of risk factors present the greater the risk of criminal involvement. In addition there are initiatives which seek to alter rates of crime at the community or aggregate level.

For example, Larry Sherman from the University of Maryland in Policing Domestic Violence (1993) demonstrated that changing the policy of police response to domestic violence calls altered the probability of subsequent violence. Policing hot spots, areas of known criminal activity, decreases the number of criminal events reported to the police in those areas. Other initiatives include community policing efforts to capture known criminals. Organizations such as America's Most Wanted and Crime Stoppers these help catch the criminals.

Secondary prevention uses techniques focusing on at risk situations such as youth who are dropping out of school or getting involved in gangs. It targets social programs and law enforcement at neighborhoods where crime rates are high. The use of secondary crime prevention in cities such as Birmingham and Bogotá have achieved large reductions in crime and violence. Programs that are focused on youth at risk have been shown to significantly reduce crime.[citation needed]

Tertiary prevention is used after a crime has occurred in order to prevent successive incidents. Such measures can be seen in the implementation of new security policies following acts of terrorism such the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Situational crime prevention uses techniques focusing on reducing on the opportunity to commit a crime. Some of techniques include increasing the difficulty of crime, increasing the risk of crime, and reducing the rewards of crime. [1]


  • Audit Commission, Misspent youth: Young people and crime, London: Audit Commission for Local Authorities and NHS in England and Wales, 1996
  • Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, Beating crime, London: Home Office, 1998
  • Home Office, Reducing offending: An assessment of research evidence on ways of dealing with offending behaviour, edited by Peter Goldblatt and Chris Lewis. London: Home Office, Research and Statistics, 1998
  • International Centre for Prevention of Crime, Urban Crime Prevention and Youth at Risk: Compendium of promising strategies and programs from around the world, Montreal, 2005
  • International Centre for Prevention of Crime, Crime Prevention Digest II: Comparative Analysis of Successful Community Safety, Montreal, 1999
  • International Centre for Prevention of Crime, 100 Crime Prevention Programs to Inspire Action across the World, Montreal, 1999
  • National Research Council (US), Fairness and Effectiveness in Policing: The Evidence, edited by Wesley Skogan, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004
  • National Research Council (U.S.), Juvenile crime, juvenile justice, edited by Joan McCord, et al., Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2001
  • National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, Violence in families: assessing prevention and treatment programs, Committee on the Assessment of Family Violence Interventions, Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Edited by Rosemary Chalk and Patricia King. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2004
  • Sherman, Lawrence, David Farrington, Brandon Welsh, Doris MacKenzie, 2002, Evidence Based Crime Prevention, New York: Routledge
  • Skogan, Wesley and Susan Hartnett, Community Policing: Chicago Style, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997
  • United Nations, Economic and Social Council, Guidelines for the Prevention of Crime, New York: United Nations, Economic and Social Council, Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, 2002
  • Waller, Irvin, Less Law, More Order: The Truth about Reducing Crime, West Port: Praeger Imprint Series, 2006
  • Welsh, Brandon, and David Farrington, eds., Preventing Crime: What Works for Children, Offenders, Victims, and Places, New York: Springer, 2006
  • World Health Organization, World report on road traffic injury prevention: Summary, Geneva, 2004
  • World Health Organization, Preventing violence: A guide to implementing the recommendations of the World Report on Violence and Health, Geneva: Violence and Injuries Prevention, 2004
  • World Health Organization, World Report on Violence and Health, Geneva: Violence and Injuries Prevention, 2002
  1. ^ [1], Barthe, Emmanuel. Crime Prevention Publicity Campaigns. U.S. Department of Justice. 2006, p.9.

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