To What Extent Do Environmental Considerations to Design Out Criminality Assist in Reducing Criminal Activity

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Criminal activity is a dynamic and ever changing process that has many faces. The industrial revolution which created a huge environmental population surge from rural to urban brought with it an increasing criminality. Quetelet and Guerry in 19th century established data collection methods that were first of its kind looking at the correlation of crimes occurring and where the criminals lived. This was further developed by Henry Mayhew (1862) who looked at the ecology of crime in London. Mayhew believed the idea that there was a greater concentration of crime in rural than urban and this was changing with social views in the way the criminal law was defined and enforced, especially with police expansion concentrating themselves in fast growing industrial urban areas. These early studies would develop and increased emphasis on the design of an area on criminality and what can be done physically to deter offending. Early Studies in Chicago pioneered the vision and after the 2nd world war rebuilding effort, various political housing policies and immigration from British colonies led to a diverse social set up and a deterministic approach to crime in the UK. Environmental factors in the 1970’s magnified itself onto people’s agenda by the recorded rise in crime in inner city areas and instigated thinking on how to respond to it which at the time accepted the problem and the need to at least curtail it. Early thoughts on designing out crime were recognition of a rational offender. The rationale of defensible space and target hardening has been reported in detail due to it being embedded into political spectrums but studies have shown that altering the environment may indeed reduce criminal activity but doesn’t necessarily prevent offending. The idea that situational prevention merely causes displacement and diffusion is something hard to prove conclusively. The early part of the 20th century large social studies based in Chicago led to the growth of 'Environmental Criminology’. The Chicago school was influential in the 1920’ and 1930’s and Mass immigration led to an unprecedented population boom and an idea of high offence area rates. Burgess (1925) and Shaw and Mackay (1942) after a huge increase in crime identified a high rate in the city centre closest to the industry. They also claimed that the amount of crime stayed constant even when the diverse make up altered. They implied people who lived in the high crime areas turned away from crime as they moved out the city centre with increased wealth and changing outlook. One conclusion was that the individual’s behaviour is the main factor determined by their environment. The idea was criticised that crimes are generally even across the classes and the lack of similarity to European cities with their work focusing only on the poorer classes and trusting the official crime figures. Situational Crime Prevention looks at the opportunities for specific crimes and how to make them harder to commit. Jeremy Bentham in the 1980’s argued the rational choice made was based on deterrence. The rational choice theory is aimed at uncomplicated human decision making and that crime is committed for the rewards it brings. Crime prevention aims to disrupt this thinking and increase the effort it takes to commit the crime. Cornish and Clarke (1987) states that rational choice defines the place as important and offenders vary methods they used on the varying crimes they commit to achieve their goals. They thought this idea could explain why it was carried out, the choice of crime and location. They did however accept limitations on rationality such as time and the offender’s capabilities. There seems to be very little studies on the confidential crimes such as child abuse, domestic violence. Do people think these crimes as unimportant? The emphasis on Situational crime control and concentrating on just the ‘Labelling’ of the offender may be a successful ploy to satisfy the public fear but can...
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