Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 1

Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 1

Edited by Ronald V. Clarke

Buy this volume from Lynne Rienner Publishers




What works in crime prevention: An overview of evaluations
by Barry Poyner

In this review of 122 evaluations of crime prevention projects, the measures evaluated were grouped into six general categories: campaigns and publicity; policing and other surveillance; environmental design or improvement; social and community services; security devices; target removal or modification. Using objective indices of crime, about half of the measures evaluated were found to be effective. Successes were documented in all six categories of measures, but target removal or modification enjoyed the largest number of successes and social and community services the least.

Controlling crime facilitators: evidence from research on homicide and suicide
by David Lester

This review analyzes a body of research conducted by Lester and his colleagues in the last ten years on the effects of limiting access to lethal methods for suicide and for homicide. Results provide evidence that limiting access to a preferred method of committing suicide and homicide has a preventive effect more clearly so for suicide than for homicide. However, there was also evidence that some switching of method may take place after limiting access to one method, again more clearly for suicide than for homicide. However, the body of research as a whole indicates that this line of investigation may prove fruitful in the future for documenting the impact of restricting access to lethal implements in the prevention of crime, and of other social and public health problems.

Situational deterrence: fear during the criminal event
by Maurice Cusson

The link between situational crime prevention and deterrence theory can be found in the fear experienced by the offender in certain crime situations. This paper starts with an examination of deterrence theory. It is argued that perceptual deterrence is flawed in three respects. First, it is not time-specific enough being incapable of grasping the short-term impact of variations in sanctions. Second, it does not specify the concrete contingencies in which crimes are committed. Third, it does not measure the emotional component of deterrence. Situational deterrence is simply the intimidating effect of the dangers involved in a specific crime situation. It is a fact that some offenders experience fear when they go into action. It is also a fact that this fear leads to some criminal projects being aborted, and often stops offenders before they can achieve their ends. However, there is a limit to the influence of this emotion. Many offenders succeed in mustering their courage and plunge into action despite the danger. Also, some enjoy the excitement generated by fear. Situational risks are important components of crime prevention, not only because they are taken into account by offenders in their cost-benefit calculations, but also because they can trigger uncontrollable fear, forcing the offender to flee empty-handed.

Crime prevention and the costs of auto theft: an economic analysis
by Simon Field

The total cost of auto theft to the 1985 is estimated at $6 billion at current prices, or about $45 per automobile per year. On the basis of this estimate it is calculated that it would be cost-effective for society to invest a few hundred dollars per car in built-in security to prevent auto theft. In practice, there is very little incentive for individual owners to prevent auto theft since most of the costs fall in the form of insurance premiums and government expenditures rather than in the form of losses falling to individual owners. It is argued that there should be government-mandated standards of design security applied to all automobiles, since the private market is inadequate to the task of providing an optimal level of theft security.

An experiment on the prevention of shoplifting
by David Farrington, Sean Bowen, Abigail Buckle, Tony Burns-Howell, John Burrows and Martin Speed

The aim of this experiment was to evaluate the effectiveness of crime analysis and situational prevention in preventing shoplifting. Three prevention techniques were compared: electronic tagging, store redesign, and deployment of a uniformed guard. Shoplifting was measured by systematically counting specified items every day and comparing the number of missing items with the number sold, given away or used in the store. Nine stores with high shoplifting rates were identified in a prior study. Electronic tagging was introduced in two store; redesign in two; a uniformed guard in two; and the remaining three served as controls, receiving no intervention. Shoplifting was measured during the week before the intervention, the week after, and three to six weeks later. The results showed that: electronic tagging caused a lasting decrease in shoplifting; store redesign caused an immediate decrease that was wearing off after six weeks; and the uniformed guard had no effect on shoplifting. A program of research focusing on crime analysis and situational prevention of shoplifting is recommended especially aiming to achieve lasting benefits from store redesign.

Credit card fraud prevention: A successful retail strategy
by Barry Masuda

Substantial losses from credit card fraud are forcing retail industry executives to reevaluate the effectiveness of their ability to prevent this type of crime. In 1992, management at Tops Appliance City, Inc. decided to reassess its own fraud prevention program in an attempt to prevent future losses. An analysis of the Tops' problem pointed out the need to differentiate legitimate from illegitimate patrons when they attempted to transact a sale. Program initiatives led to the development of a highly successful profile utilizing criteria that were predicated upon purchase traits and the exchange of fraud-related intelligence data with regional departments of the U.S. Postal Inspector's Office and the U S. Secret Service. Substantial decreases in credit card fraud losses were achieved at Tops, though attempts remained high. Implications are that merchant-based credit card fraud prevention can be effective, but an industry-wide effort will be necessary to reduce credit card fraud overall.

Fare evasion and automatic ticket collection on the London underground
by Ronald V. Clarke

At the end of 1989 a new ticket issuing and collection system, including automatic gates at 63 busy central stations, was brought into full operation on the London Underground. One of the system's principal objectives, a reduction in fare evasion, appears to have been achieved. The results of before-and-after surveys undertaken by the management of the Underground suggest that fare evasion has been cut by two-thirds and that the additional revenues generated should soon pay for the cost of installing the automatic gates. An analysis of ticket sales also indicates that the more recent installation in December 1991 of automatic gates at two suburban stations has been cost-effective in terms of reduced fare evasion. It is concluded that further research should be directed to identifying other high-risk stations where installation of automatic gates might be cost-effective.

Public transport safety a community right and a communal responsibility
by Kerri Carr and Geoff Spring

A new program, Travel Safe, was introduced at the end of 1990 to deal with problems of passenger safety and vandalism on the train, tram and bus systems operated by the Public Transport Corporation of the State of Victoria, AUS. New information-gathering and analysis systems were created, and a forum was established for community consultation. Improved procedures for cleansing of graffiti, repair of vandalism and collection of litter were introduced security and customer safety were enhanced by better lighting and closed-circuit television surveillance and through the provision of more public telephones throughout the system. Patroling of trains, stations and other facilities was greatly increased. As a result there were large reductions in crimes against persons, vandalism and graffiti, and the number of trains removed from service. To ensure that these improvements are maintained, the Public Transport Corporation is working with other agencies such as local government to instill much greater respect for public property in the community.

Situational prevention of public disorder at the Australian motorcycle grand prix
by Arthur Veno and Elizabeth Veno

Situational analysis of chronic violence occurring between police and spectators at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix led to formulation of hypotheses about the causes of the violence. These hypotheses proposed a relationship between the violence and: (1) police tactics, (2) spectator and police frustration, (3) facilities at the event and its organization, and (4) media sensationalism. Working with the Victoria Police, the authors developed and implemented a situational crime prevention plan to both prevent violence and maintain large crowd numbers attending the event. The plan's effectiveness is assessed by comparing pre- and post-intervention arrests, spectators' satisfaction with polio and residents' satisfaction with the event. These comparisons demonstrate that violence is preventable at some public events using consensus management techniques, and that the result is greater public satisfaction with police. Through use of these techniques, alienation of the public can be minimized thus avoiding unintended consequences of a more authoritarian approach.

Victoria's speed camera program
by Michael G. Bourne and Ronald C. Cooke

In response to a rising road toll, the government of the state of Victoria, AUS., announced in September 1989 a new Road Safety Strategy that included a large increase in the level of red light and speed camera enforcement. This required the development of new processing technologies and a new Traffic Camera Office to view the photographic evidence, issue penalty notices, and handle related enquiries and administrative support activities. Along with bold advertisements and additional enforcement of drink-driving laws, the speed camera program has helped reduce road traffic collisions by more than 25% since 1989. Injuries from road crashes are down 40%, and fatalities have been reduced by over 45%. This means savings of more than A$800 million to the Victorian community, and dramatically reduced risk of collision and injury on Victorian roads.