CRIMINOLOGY 101 D100
INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINOLOGY
Instructor: Barry Cartwright
Situational Crime Prevention
Felson’s ten fallacies about crime tell us that common crimes are quickly and easily committed and everyone could be criminals when the temptation of a criminal act has outreached the incentives of obeying the law (Sacco & Kennedy, 2008, p.15-16). When a person sees an illegal opportunity to acquire something valuable, e.g. unattended goods, with very little possibility of getting caught, he/she would probably take it for his/her own desire. In this process, a crime is formed with a likely offender, a suitable target, and the absence of a capable guardian. These three elements above are the basic structure of many crimes in our everyday life. If we add a capable guardian in the structure or make the target less attractive towards the offenders, many crimes could be prevented, which is principle of situational crime prevention.
Situational crime prevention is a kind of deterrence that focuses on the suppression of criminal opportunities (Sacco & Kennedy, 2008, p.338). It seeks to forestall the occurrence of crime, rather than to detect and sanction offenders (Clarke, 2010, p.145). Although it is assumed to be applicable to every kind of crime, it is highly specific that one situational crime prevention case cannot make much impression on the overall crime statistics (Clarke, 2010, p.147).
Situational crime prevention first appealed to managers seeking radical ways to solve troublesome crime problems within their business or agencies, before criminologist found it useful to deter crimes (Clarke, 2010, p.146). This is because the problem of explaining crime had been blended with the problem of explaining the criminal, and the problem of controlling crime with that of dealing with the criminal was confused (Clarke, 2010, p.146). Most criminology theories focus on criminals rather than the crime itself. For instance, Sheldon’s mesomorph theory talks about the body shapes of criminals, and Merton’s anomie theory centered on the cause of criminal behaviors. Also, controlling crime and dealing with the criminal was mixed up together. Deterrence theory, Reckless’ containment theory and such were seen adequate to prevent crime until research has shown that offenders pay much more attention to the immediate chances of getting caught than to the punishment they might receive later (Clarke, 2010, p.163).
While situational crime prevention seems to differ from most criminological theories, it is closely related to rational choice theory, life exposure theory and routine activity theory. Crime is a purposive behavior designed to meet the offender’s needs for such things as money, status, sex and excitement (Clarke, 2010, p.157). Meeting these needs involves making decisions and choices, constrained by limits of time, ability, the costs and benefits (Clarke, 2010, p.157). Situational crime prevention attempts to make crime more difficult and risky, or less rewarding and excusable as judged by most offenders (Clarke, 2010, p.148, 161). According to life exposure theory and routine activity theory, patterns of activity in active spaces such as work place and home determine the vulnerability of being a victim. Thus, situational crime prevention aims to manipulate the environment and criminal opportunity structure consisting of targets, victims and crime facilitators in order to make crime less beneficial or attractive to offenders (Clarke, 2010, p.148, 161).
The four main purposes of situational crime prevention: (i) Increasing the risk (ii) Increasing the difficulties (iii) Reducing the rewards of crime (iv) Remove excuses for crime are achieved through sixteen methods (Clarke, 2010, p.165-166). (1) Target Hardening uses physical barriers to obstruct the offenders, (2) Access Control excludes potential offenders from suitable sites for crime, (3) Deflecting Offenders...
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