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The Use of Social Crime Prevention Techniques in the UK Essay

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Updated: May 6th, 2022

Introduction

In the United Kingdom, the crime prevention texture has changed significantly over time. Beginning from the year 1980, prevention of crime has shifted from “being of trivial intellectual interest to become a major concern of governments” (Bajpai, 2003, p.11). The trend that can be clearly seen is that the U.K government is making efforts to promote the policies that contribute towards the realization of the safety of the community as well as crime reduction and not “essentially launching ‘crackdown on crime’ type approach” (Bajpai, 2003, p.11). Looking at the history of the U.K’s crime prevention, a clear picture is seen of shifting agenda of main concerns on this subject (O’Malley & Hutchinson, 2007). Both the situational and social crime prevention techniques have been applied in the whole range of the crime reduction and prevention initiatives that were carried out by law enforcement agencies. This paper is going to look at how both situational and social crime prevention techniques are used within the U.K and also at how different agencies within the community safety partnerships have helped to facilitate such projects.

Situational Crime Prevention (SCP) Technique

The SCP is typically defined as “involving the management, design or manipulation of the immediate environment” (Hough, et al, 1980, p.1). This results from a thinking pattern and taking action about the crime problem which is different from the traditional responses of criminal justice. It focuses on the offense rather than on the offender. It is based on the notion that the opportunities that promote committing crimes are built in the immediate environment within which crimes take place. The measures or techniques used in situational crime prevention are intended to pass across a message to the potential criminals that the efforts needed to carry out crime and the associated dangers have been magnified, and also that the benefits which can be realized by engaging in crime have diminished to a significant level. Situational crime prevention undertakes the application of greatly specific techniques “in the opportunity reduction for offending behavior” (Bajpai, 2003, p.20). In the U.K. various such managerial, as well as technological measures, have indicated promising results. These measures’ performance was revealed in a number of evaluation researches that were conducted in the United Kingdom. Clarke (1997) has engaged in developing a “16-techniques model” for the opportunity lessening which is being employed in all places with suitable modifications. These include; target hardening, defecting offenders, entry and exit screening, and formal surveillance among other measures.

One of the best examples of measures related to SCP that has been used in the United Kingdom is CCTV. It is estimated that, in the U.K., there are more than four million cameras. Beginning from the mid-1990s, the U.K government has engaged in investing a large amount of money in the local schemes which are operated by the local authorities as well as crime prevention partnership and there is widespread utilization of CCTV in public places such as the shopping centers, hospitals and schools among other places. Having such wide usage, a conclusion can be drawn that CCTV is an effective measure for preventing crime.

Those who support the use of CCTV present an argument that these cameras serve as a warning, while its ability to facilitate storing of images and “to track perpetrators of crime in real-time means that it also assists in crime detection, and gathering evidence for court cases” (Gilling, n.d, p.21). The supporters also present an argument that in an era where there is a lack of security, it plays a reassurance role, enabling people to have a complete feeling of safety in their day-to-day life. Certainly, the role played by CCTV is of great significance to a level that it is increasingly being considered as very essential for public facilities as well as residential space.

The evidence for the clear success of the CCTV is very easy to come across. It is pointed out that “crime-related CCTV footage, and the resultant ‘catch’, make up a significant proportion of the ‘infotainment’ diet that currently occupies television programming schedules” (Gilling, n.d, p.21), while the news broadcasts have clearly given an illustration of the CCTV virtues in “piecing together the movements of suspects in high profile cases as the 7 July London bombings” (Gilling, n.d, p.21). Research also exists which has given an indication of, for instance, a remarkable decrease in the levels of crime as a result of bringing in the implementation of the CCTV schemes in certain areas (Welsh & Farrington, 2002).

Social Crime Prevention

This is a label that covers a wide range of interventions and ideas that are geared towards preventing criminality. It is referred to as “social” since its focus is on people and not on situations and on the motivating or disposing of factors for people to commit criminal activities. While prevention of crime as a distinctive policy area external to the ‘criminal justice system’ has shifted to the front, “it would be fair to say that compared to situational approach, the social approach has played much more of a back-seat role” (Gilling, n.d, p.24). However, a large number of the interventions for social crime prevention have been there for a while, as either components of social policy, instead of ‘criminal justice policy, or for the reason that “they have resonated with criminology orthodoxies that have moved in and out of political fashion” (Gilling, n.d, p.24). However, according to Gilling (2007), among the people who have engaged in promoting community safety, social crime prevention has gone through a smaller revival.

It is pointed out that there is the interpreting of social crime prevention as undertaking reinforcement of social bonds as well as social controls; this implies making it possible for the social units to have self-regulation in a more effective way (The growth of crime prevention, n.d). This contributes directly to the idea of “community-based crime prevention” that has as well been promoted in the years that have just passed (The growth of crime prevention, n.d). The programs for crime prevention which are community-based have made attempts to involve several agencies in the U.K and they have also been trying to utilize both the situational as well as social techniques in promoting crime prevention, reducing fear and ensuring the safety of the community (The growth of crime prevention, n.d).

Certainly, efforts have been made by the U.K government to engage in stimulating this form of activity. For instance, in the year 1984, there was a circular that put emphasis on the need to employ a partnership approach between the local government and police in order to make sure that there was an all-inclusive “crime prevention strategy” to have a safe United Kingdom (The growth of crime prevention, n.d). In the process of promoting the “community-based” crime prevention measures, the U.K government emphasized the significance of making the responsibility to be wider to a level where “preventing crime is a task for a whole community” (The growth of crime prevention, n.d, p.58). That which was referred to as “the multi-agency approach” turned out to be the official principle “underlying a wide range of new projects” (The growth of crime prevention, n.d, p.58). In general terms, there were targets to include both the social and situational crime prevention measures (The growth of crime prevention, n.d).

“Role of Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnerships”

“Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships” consist of the local authorities, police, and other businesses and organizations which have come together with an aim of developing and undertaking the implementation of strategies put in place to deal with disorder and crime at a local level (Bajpai, 2003). It is reported that, in England and wales, there exist three hundred and seventy-six partnerships (Bajpai, 2003, p.15). The “Crime and Disorder Act, 1998” puts the responsibility on the police, probation committees as well as local authorities among other relevant parties to offer cooperation in developing and also in implementing a strategy aimed at dealing with disorder and crime within their region. These parties have to put into consideration the transformed working practices, inner priorities as well partnerships they have with the larger community and with other agencies.

The partnerships are undertaking their operations to bring down the level of crime and disorder within their area through various ways. One of the ways is by establishing the levels of the problems of crime and disorder within their zone and engaging in broader consultations with the local people in order to ensure the perception that the partnerships have goes in line with that of the local population and particularly the minority groups like homosexuals and ethnic minority members. Another way is by coming up with a strategy that carries with it measures that are aimed at dealing with the priority issues. The duration of the strategy is three years; however, the partnerships have to keep on reviewing it.

Conclusion

In the U.K, there has been the use of both situational and social crime prevention techniques. Among the best example of understanding how situational crime prevention in the U.K has been carried out is by considering the use of CCTV in this country. Estimates have been made that in the U.K., there are more than four million CCTV cameras in use. It has also been found out that in the course of boosting the “community-based” crime prevention techniques, the U.K government has been stressing the significance of making the responsibility to be wider to a level where crime prevention is the responsibility of the entire community. It has also been found out that in the U.K, partnerships are working to bring down the level of crime and disorder within their area through various ways. Among these ways is by establishing the levels of the problems of crime and disorder within their zone and engaging in broader consultations with the local people with an aim of making sure that the perception that the partnerships have are in conformity with that of the local population and mostly the minority groups.

References

Bajpai, G.S 2003, Web.

Clarke, R 1997, Situational Crime Prevention: Successful Case Studies, Harrow and Heston, New York.

Gilling, D 2007, Crime Reduction and Community Safety: Labor and the Politics of Local Crime Control, Willan, Cullompton.

Gilling, D n.d, Crime prevention. Web.

Hough, M, Clarke, R, & Mayhew, P. 1980, Designing Out Crime, HMSO, London.

O’Malley, P, & Hutchinson, S 2007, ‘Reinventing prevention: why did ‘crime prevention’ develop so late?’ British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 47, no.3, pp.373–89.

The growth of crime prevention, n.d. Web.

Welsh, B. & Farrington, D 2002, Crime Prevention Effects of Closed Circuit Television: a Systematic Review. Home Office Research Study 252 Home Office, London.

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