Assess the Sociological Perspectives on Crime Prevention. [20 Marks]

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The effectiveness of crime prevention strategies has increased in recent years and many sociologists believe that this is the result of society instilling tougher punishments upon its’ members. Despite this, there are many other approaches that attempt to reduce crime. However, they also have their limitations. Clarke believes that situational crime prevention is an approach that focuses on reducing the opportunities for crime to occur rather than improving society’s institutions. This is largely based on the rational choice theory, which demonstrates how criminals decide if they are going to carry out a crime based on its costs and benefits. Thus, situational crime prevention aims to reduce the benefits of crime and increase its’ costs. However, despite attempting to reduce crime, Felson provides an example of SCP, which demonstrates how it only ‘displaces’ crime. For example, the New York City bus terminal was poorly designed and found that reshaping its’ environment largely reduced luggage theft and drug dealing. However, rather than reducing the crime, sociologists argue that ‘reshaping the environment’ only displaces this crime through ‘spatial’ forms by moving it into other locations to be carried out. Thus, the rate of crime stays the same. Social and community crime prevention on the other hand attempts to tackle the root causes of crime. This long-term approach aims to eliminate the circumstances that predispose an individual to crime because research shows that causes of crime exist in social conditions such as poverty and unemployment. For example, policies designed to promoted full-time employment, are likely to reduce crime as a side effect of part-time employment, where extra money needs to be earned through illegal means. However, this approach tends to focus on opportunistic, street crime. This is a weakness because it ignores white-collar and environmental crimes that are largely under-represented in the official statistics. For...
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