Attempts to eradicate or prevent crime have often focused on punishment and a ‘prison works’ system that deals with the offender once the criminal act has occurred, rather than specifically focusing on preventing the crime from happening in the first place. The past decade has shown that the British government’s dogmatic response to crime “gives priority to case-processing and the punishment of offenders” particularly due to the publics fear of crime and want for a more punitive response to crime (Garland, 2000, peg).
Although environmental control theories are not particularly recognized by the public or have they been chiefly researched by criminologists in the past, evidence suggests that some forms of environmental control have proven to be highly successful (Clarke, 1983). The idea that crime can be prevented by the analysis of places in which crime occurs most frequently, followed by the alteration of the design of a building or reducing the criminal’s opportunities and temptation to offend, will be examined throughout this paper.
Situational Crime prevention emphasizes the use of target hardening, surveillance and access control in order to reduce the temptations of crime in urban areas that old usually experience high crime rates (Villain, 2007). The fundamental theories behind situational crime prevention are rational choice theory and routine activity theory which will be analyses in order to understand their contributions to environmental crime controls today.
Lastly, and most importantly, is the influence of ‘Crime Prevention through Environmental design’ in the decline of criminal activity in certain geographical areas. The ‘Defensible space’ theory relies on residents to practice the use of territorial surveillance (Clarke, 1983). All of these theories will be analyses in order to gaslight the main examples of attempts to prevent and manipulate crime using environmental controls.
Situational crime prevention, or control theory, is an important theory used by academics and criminologists in order to analyses environmental controls used to manage crime. Situational crime prevention emphasizes the need to focus on the settings Of a crime rather than specifically focusing on the offender (Clarke, 1997). By sourcing out the geographical areas that crime occurs most regularly, law enforcement can then anticipate and prevent that crime from happening.
In the sass’s, LIKE policy makers had a tendency to Ochs their attention on ‘dispositional’ rather than ‘situational’ variables when interpreting and approaching crime prevention, which meant focusing specifically on the individuals character and not on the situation or setting that the crime may take place (Hughes, 1998). Sock Young coined the term administrative criminology in the 1 ass’s in order to argue that “the search for causes is futile, but the opportunities to commit crime can be controlled” (Hughes, 1998, pap).
Administrative criminologists’ focus their research on the setting in which the crime has taken place, ignoring the social causes of crime y assuming that the offender has made a rational decision by means of weighing up the costs and benefits of their behavior (McLaughlin and Muncie, 2001 As said by Villain, the four main goals that situational control theory aims to achieve are; “increasing perceived effort, increasing perceived risk, reducing anticipated awards, and removing excuses” (Villain, 2007).
In order to accomplish these goals successfully there must be some analysis of the criminal’s motivations because the termination of opportunity may infuriate the criminal and possibly lead to crime displacement (Killing, 2007). Crime displacement theory presumes that once the opportunity of a crime is removed then the criminal act will only move to a different location, at a different time. However, much research indicates that crime displacement is very rare, and may not happen at all (Clarke, 1997; GAG, 201 1).
Although administrative criminologists steer away from the social causes of crime the work of community safety partnerships that aim to prevent crime must not be ignored. Community safety partnerships that deal with the ‘social’ crime prevention aspect, aim to deter potential offenders from criminal activity wrought striving to enhance opportunities in education and employment, as well as improving leisure facilities, with the intention of deterring those most vulnerable away from crime (Cobble and Tilled, 2000).
Routine activity and rational choice theory have developed from situational crime prevention, emphasizing the effects of the social environment and situational circumstances on a criminal’s decision to commit crime. Rational choice theory, developed by Ronald V. Clarke, derived from classical theory which suggests that people freely make decisions to commit crime once they eave recognized that the pleasure gained from the rewards of committing the crime outweighs the potential pain of being apprehended (Hartley, et al, 2006).
This can also be recognized as the concept of psychological hedonism, where the individual evaluates the pleasures and pains prior to committing the crime and then adjusts their behavior accordingly, balancing the search for pleasure with the evasion of pain (Hughes, 1998). Therefore assuming that if an offender recognizes that the opportunity displays a high risk Of apprehension, and the benefits are outweighed by the costs, the potential offender may refrain from committing the crime.
A noteworthy example is when the law in the LIKE made it mandatory to wear a crash helmet when riding a motor cycle for safety reasons and possibly, albeit unintentionally, reduced motor cycle theft. A potential offender who is not carrying a crash helmet may be reluctant to steal a motor cycle as the likelihood of gaining the attention of authorities is higher (Clarke, 1980).
Although the opportunity for the offender to steal the vehicle was there, the increased risk of encounter with authorities may lead the offender to rationally choose to refrain from omitting the crime. The underlying perspective of rational choice theory is that an individual’s choice to commit crime can be deterred because of fear of punishment or strong security measures that heighten the risk of being apprehended (Villain, 2007).
Evidence indicates that Rational Choice theory has been relatively successful due to its cost effective and efficient methods of deterring crime in contemporary society (Hayward, 2007). However, there are several critiques of rational choice theory, for example even if in certain situations a reduction in temptation or opportunities for a criminal who intends to commit crime may result in crime prevention, would this theory have the same outcome for violent and emotionally motivated crimes?
Evidence suggest otherwise. An experiment conducted by Exam, indicates that an individual who is intoxicated by alcohol can behave aggressively regardless of the damaging consequences that may occur due to this behavior (Exam, 2002). Several studies reveal that rational choice theory can be undermined when the perceived cost and benefits are not rationally weighed out by the individual due to intoxication, mental disorders, gang related crime and much more.
Routine activity theory implies that there must be a willing offender, a target (or victim), and no capable guardian present, in order for the crime to take place (Hartley, et al, 2006). Consequently, if an opportunity arises for the criminal, during his daily routine activities such as school or university, and he has calculated that the risk of being caught is outweighed by the pleasure of the crime, then it is likely to occur. It is important to understand that a capable guardian does not have to be a human, as now days CATV is provided as a tool of monitoring and prevention.
Research suggests that CATV is a form f situational crime prevention used in order to deter criminals by the threat of being seen and even recorded. However, Richard Jones states that evaluation schemes of CATV suggest that this form of surveillance was not as effective as expected in the sass’s and suggested that “something as simple as street lighting may be more effective” (Jones, 2009). Furthermore, the use of CATV’ has become particularly popular with British citizens since the LIKE riots of August 2011.
According to a survey published in the Independent newspaper, three quarters Of people felt that they were safer in public areas u to OCW being in operation (2011 What seems to be the most alarming, is the fact that so many of the youth involved in the riots knew of the CATV surveillance cameras but still continued to carry on committing crime. This demonstrates the inefficiency of CATV for preventing crime, albeit footage can be used to warrant an arrest and be used as evidence in court.
In order for situational crime prevention to work, there must be a reduction in the opportunities to commit crime, perhaps through concepts such as target hardening (Villain, 2007). Target hardening is a crime prevention tool used to bestially increase the physical security of targets, making the target less vulnerable, especially when preventing theft. The North Yorkshire police suggest, wheel locks for cars, fencing and alarms for properties, and tough locks on windows and doors, in order to make objects and property more resistant to damage or removal (NYPD, 2012).
Target hardening differs from situational crime control as the aim is to make security measures visible to the potential criminal rather than taking away the criminals opportunity. This method derived from the theory of ‘Crime Prevention through Environmental Design’. Crime prevention through Environmental Design (ACCEPTED) was developed by C. Ray Jeffery in order to reduce opportunities for criminals and preventing the crime before the police or criminal justice system have to become involved (Clarke and Felon, 1993).
ACCEPTED uses the built environment to reduce criminal activity and fear of crime among the public, focusing on aspects of architectural design. There are four main strategies used to implement ACCEPTED, which consist of the natural control of access and surveillance, territorial reinforcement and quality environments (NCSC, 2009). The idea of access control is to provide a design that offers indications as to who is allowed to access the area and who is not. This way residence can be their own security systems, with little cost, using strategies such as natural surveillance.
Thus, using gateways, sidewalks and pathways to help map out the restrictions of a site that may be private, semi-private or are no longer a public space (Sham, 2007; NCSC, 2009). The natural surveillance strategy can be enhanced by small physical features such as garden fences or flower beds as they illustrate the maintenance and care that the residents hold over their repertory and suggests to the potential criminal that they will be aware of trespassers (Sham, 2007).
If the criminal can see that the resident’s view from the windows looks upon the front or back garden they are likely to feel more of a risk is involved in committing the crime, than if the windows are covered by plants or are not overlooking the outside area. The theory of ACCEPTED derived from that of Oscar Newsman’s ‘Defensible space’ theory. Turning areas into ‘defensible space’ can be achieved through residential guardians monitoring their property, potentially deterring criminals from targeting their homes.
Newman believed that urban residential areas could be redesigned to make them less vulnerable to crime and provide residents with additional “opportunities to control their space and defend it if necessary’ (Reynolds and Lifers, 2009). Newman believed that residents needed to take responsibility for the physical space around their property and in order to do so they needed to take care of the space and use it in order to encourage criminal users to stay away. A communal courtyard is an example of a space in which the residents should avoid isolating, and focus on keeping the area clean and respectable.
Newman has been heavily criticized over the years for ignoring the social factors of potential criminals living inside the large council houses and in the surrounding areas. Many believe that focusing on the setting and design of a building to deter crime is less beneficial then crime prevention through analysis of social factors. Nevertheless, evidence indicates that there has been a positive outcome in many cases where a significant decline in crime related problems has happened due to the redesigning of buildings (Reynolds and Lifers, 2009).
The most significant aspect of Newsman’s theory of defensible space is the dead biodegradability, meaning that residents will be able to control and defend their space. By dividing spaces into Zones made up of real and symbolic barriers, the outcome will be a clear distinction between what spaces are public, semi- private and private (Newman, 1996). As stated before, physical barriers such as fences are defined as ‘real’ and symbolic barriers are those such as plants, that don’t physically limit criminals but psychologically portray to the criminal it is private and therefore restricted (Reynolds and Lifers, 2009).
Buildings that have large amounts of people living n them may be better protected by the natural surveillance of a receptionist, doormen, or elevator operators that can deter criminals by the increased perception that the criminal understands he may be seen (Newman, 1996). However, for low income, council housing, the natural surveillance of doormen etc. , is not a possibility due to financial restrictions. The use Of sensor lighting in spaces such as stairwells and entrances to avoid blind spots and to startle an intruder may prevent criminal activity and is more cost effective for low- income families.
Other examples may be to design buildings hat ensure windows are overlooking car parks and entrances, and the use of moderately transparent fences in joining houses may deter criminals, as the neighbors’ ability to see if anyone is intruding (Crime stoppers, 2005). Traditional methods of preventing crime by addressing the social and psychological causes, with much focus on the individual, has not produced a significant decrease in criminal activity in many countries, specifically the I-J over the past decade.
Based on past, and current, research into the success of environmental controls used to prevent crime, it is clear that substantial efforts have been made to focus on changing the setting, reducing temptation and eradicating opportunities for crime to occur. The publics increased fear of crime over the past two decades has had a considerable impact on the ground upon which crime control policies have been created, consequently leading to a populist and punitive response to tackling crime.