Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 3

Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 3

Edited by Ronald V. Clarke

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Crime Analysis

The Prediction and Prevention of Violence in Pubs and Clubs
by Ross Homel and Jeff Clark

Although there is much research that suggests that alcohol is a causal factor in criminal violence, relatively little is known about the situational factors and management practices that increase the risk of violence in and around licensed premises. The aim of the present study was to use quantitative methods to clarify the situational and management factors most predictive of violence, and, in particular, to examine the role of intoxication. Visits (N=147) of two hours duration were made to 45 sites within 36 premises in Sydney, AUS in the winter of 1991. A total of 102 incidents of aggression were observed, 29 (28.4%) involving physical violence. These incidents were concentrated in a small number of premises. A major predictor of physical violence was staff intervention with intoxicated patrons, particularly, refusal of service. Male drunkenness and "drinks in rounds" shouting predicted non-physical aggression more strongly than physical violence, controlling for staff intervention. Prevention strategies should include serious enforcement of legislation prohibiting the sale of alcohol to intoxicated persons, and the use of responsible serving practices in all licensed premises, not just high-risk establishments. Experience from a community intervention program in southeast Queensland highlights the value of a local code of practice for licensed premises, supported by a monitoring committee to encourage: responsible serving and pricing practices; better quality entertainment; and the training of bouncers, bar staff and management in non-violent crowd control techniques.

Exploring Auto Theft in British Columbia
by Zachery Fleming, Patricia Brantingham and Paul Brantingham

Motor vehicle theft is a major property crime problem in Canada; however, studies of auto theft in Canada are limited. This paper reports on the results of the most recent Canadian study. The British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police, in conjunction with personnel at the Insurance Company of British Columbia and the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University, explored the site-specific and situational characteristics of auto theft in British Columbia in order to inform potential auto theft reduction strategies. The study found that young offenders who target older, Japanese- manufactured vehicles with theft-vulnerable door and ignition locks are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the auto theft problem in British Columbia. There was little evidence to suggest that auto stealing is carried out by organized, profit-motivated adult offenders. However, willful damage to stolen vehicles by thrill-seeking youths is widespread and costly, and it contradicts the innocuous connotation of the term "joyriding." Findings suggest that automobile owners should protect their cars differently: Owners of older, Japanese-manufactured vehicles may be well advised to employ widely available, inexpensive after market anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks to deter opportunistic youth, while the owners of vehicles whose parts are highly sought after for resale will need to layer anti-theft technologies and be diligent guardians to better protect their vehicles against theft. The information learned in this study is forming the basis of a number of auto theft reduction initiatives being undertaken jointly by police and insurance personnel in British Columbia.

Parking Patterns and Car Theft Risks: Policy-Relevant Findings from the British Crime Survey
by Ronald V. Clarke and Pat Mayhew

Previous analyses of car theft data from the British Crime Survey (BCS) have suggested that usual place of parking (e.g., in the street or in a garage) is related to risk of theft, even allowing for the fact that parking options vary with other factors (such as living in an inner city) that themselves affect risk. However, theft risks have been assessed for people usually parking in different locations without taking account of precisely where thefts occurred. This problem was avoided in the current study, based on data from the 1988 BCS, by examining where car owners usually park in the day and at night, and by assessing their risks at these locations only. It was found that "usual" parking locations vary much more in risk than previously suggested. For example, parking in a domestic garage at night is safer by a factor of 20 than parking in a driveway or other private place, and safer by a factor of 50 than parking in the street near home. (This underlines the need for more garage and off-street parking, and suggests that people with garages should be encouraged to use them whenever possible. In order to capitalize on the greater night-time guardianship afforded to cars parked near home, consideration should be given to the development of "silent" car alarms that sound only in the owner's home). A further important finding was that car owners are much more at risk when they venture from their usual parking place. Indeed, at least as many incidents involve temporarily parked cars as cars left in their usual parking place, even though the former are likely to have been left for much shorter periods. The analysis highlights the value of taking better account of the number of cars parked in different places at different times, or "parking exposure." In particular, more needs to be known about the risks attached to various short-term parking locations, including public parking lots.


Rational Choice and Inmate Disputes over Phone Use on Rikers Island
by Nancy G. La Vigne

In an attempt to reduce the high costs of illicit inmate telephone use, a high-security, computerized phone system for inmates was introduced on Rikers Island in 1993. A few months after implementation, correction officers observed that the system had the beneficial side effect of reducing fights over phone use. This paper confirms the anecdotal evidence, finding that the new phone system reduced both phone costs and inmate violence related to phone use by 50%. There was little evidence of displacement to other forms of violence. These results demonstrate that violent crime may often be precipitated by situational factors and may be prevented by reducing opportunities for disputes.

Lessons from Lisson Green: An Evaluation of Walkway Demolition on a British Housing Estate
by Barry Poyner

A previously unpublished 1986 evaluation of walkway demolition on a London public housing estate Is represented. It compares popularly reported views that the removal of walkways reduced crime with the police crime record for the estate. No general crime reduction took place as was claimed. However, closer examination of time series data revealed some significant changes in crime patterns. Good historical information about events occurring on the estate made it possible to understand the reasons behind these changes. The main effect was in reducing robbery and purse snatches. This was not primarily caused by the demolition of walkways but by earlier design changes. Lessons for future evaluations are identified.


The Procedural Analysis of Offending and Its Relevance for Situational Prevention
by Derek Cornish

Successful situational crime prevention measures tend to be characterized by their crime-specific approach, and by their considerable knowledge about how the crime in question was committed. Beyond these general prescriptions for approaching the tasks of crime analysis and crime control, however, little further guidance is available. This paper borrows a concept from cognitive science-the notion of the script-to examine the crime-commission process in more detail. By drawing attention to the way that events and episodes unfold, the script concept offers a useful analytic tool for looking at behavioral routines in the service of rational, purposive, goal-oriented action. A script-theoretic approach provides a way of generating, organizing and systematizing knowledge about the procedural aspects and procedural requirements of crime commission. It has the potential for eliciting more crime-specific, detailed and comprehensive offenders' accounts of crime commission, for extending analysis to all the stages of the crime commission sequence and, hence, for helping to enhance situational crime prevention policies by drawing attention to a fuller range of possible intervention points. As to theory, the script concept enables one aspect of the rational choice perspective on criminal behavior-the unfolding of criminal events-to be developed further, and captures something of the routinized quality, yet flexibly responsive nature of criminal decision making.

Displacement: A Review of the Empirical Literature
by Rene B.P. Hesseling

This paper reviews 55 published articles on crime prevention measures in which researchers specifically looked for evidence of displacement. These articles are classified by the type of crime prevented and the nature of the preventive measure. Analysis of the evidence suggests that displacement is not inevitable, and that if displacement occurs, it will be limited in scope.


Multi-Agency Crime Prevention in Britain: The Problem of Combining Situational and Social Strategies
by Daniel Gilling

The origins and development of crime prevention as a policy in its own right in the UK between the 1950s and 1990s are described. Particular reference is made to: the U.K Home Office's promotional role in publicity campaigns; the establishment of crime prevention infrastructures, ranging from Crime Prevention Departments and Panels through to the Five Towns Initiative and the Safer Cities Program; and the construction of a problem-oriented methodology together with the successful testing of a number of situational methods. The implications of recent attempts to combine social and situational approaches are noted. Drawing on the results of qualitative research into the Kirkholt Project, a celebrated example of British crime preventive success, a number of difficulties suggest that the social approach is incompatible with the problem-oriented methodology on which crime preventive success has been built. The implications of this incompatibility for future crime prevention policy are assessed.

A Crime Prevention Extension Service
by Marcus Felson

This paper proposes a Crime Prevention Extension Service to bring situational prevention and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design into more widespread practice. Each extension service should be operated by a university in cooperation with local organizations and public agencies. Assistance would mainly be in the form of advice for preventing crime at low cost in local settings.