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Crime has been apersistent problem in many lands. Crime occurs in various forms suchas vandalism, arson, robbery, and assault. The anticipation of crimelowers the quality of life. The occurrence of crime leads to otherundesirable effects on various elements in the society. For example,insurance companies handle massive payouts due to the insuredsuffering financial loss from crime. The government also spendsconsiderable sums on hiring and maintaining police force members.Additional costs are incurred to maintain the judiciary thatprosecutes suspected criminals along with prisons that rehabilitateconvicted criminals (Pease 14). Besides, many buildings and otherfacilities require regular maintenance and repair due to vandalismand arson.
Members of thepublic consistently call for the government to combat rising crimerates. Nevertheless, financial constraints render it impractical tocontinually increase the number of police officers. The courts toocannot receive indiscriminate sums of money from the government.Rising crime rates can seldom be solved by building new correctionalfacilities. Increasing punitive measures or enacting harsher laws donot suffice to combat the prevalence of crime. Even insurancecompanies require insured persons to take reasonable measures inprotecting their homes and property (Lab 34). These examples show thehigh costs incurred when crimes occur. They also highlight theimportance of preventing the occurrence of crimes.
Traditionalmethods of crime prevention have focused on identifying the socialand psychological causes of crime. The deficiencies revealed by thisprocess are remedied through treating the particular offender. Thegroups of criminals identified as being in need of treatment aresubjected to educational and recreational interventions. In otherinstances, supposed criminals are offered professional treatment soas to inspire a change in behavior (Lab, 42). Nevertheless, theincrease in crime rates shows the futility of traditional methods ofcrime prevention.
Situationalcrime prevention works under two assumptions. The first assumptionholds that the criminal is rational and reasonable. Therefore, arational decision maker would only proceed with committing a crime ifit offered particular benefits. The benefits must be established asexceeding the potential costs and pitfalls of being caught up in thecrime. The second assumption is that an opportunity to commit a crimemust present itself. Situational crime prevention is concerned witheradicating the opportunity of committing a crime. It also endeavorsto heighten the costs and disadvantages associated with a crime(Smith and Cornish 12). Situational crime prevention hopes that arational criminal will pose and weigh the consequences of committinga crime before going ahead.
This form ofcrime prevention also seeks to toughen the potential objects ofcrime. Target hardening reduces the culpability of persons andobjects to the effects of crime. For example, some forms of targethardening include locks on car steering and using deadlocks on doorsand windows. Other forms of situational crime prevention include thescreening of bags and passengers at bus terminals and airports.Defensible space architecture empowers residents to protect theirpublic space by preventing outsiders from gaining access. Potentialoffenders are steered away from likely sufferers. Other initiativesundertaken due to situational crime prevention include communitypolicing techniques (Smith and Cornish 29). In this regard, membersof a neighborhood agree to form patrols and vigils to ensure thesafety of their communities.
Traditionalforms of crime prevention relied solely on law enforcement so as toprovide security. Nevertheless, situational crime prevention empowersan individual to take steps to ensure his safety and wellbeing.Granted, cooperation with members of the police force is necessary toguarantee security. For example, civilians are constantly urged toreport any cases of suspicious activity to the police. Many crimescould have been prevented and danger averted if members of the publichad been responsible enough to report the matter (Rengert, Mattson,and Henderson 59). The police force then becomes responsible forfollowing up on reports and statements made to the police. Pursuingsuch leads helps to establish the merits of the claims and possiblyintervene so as to provide security.
Private securityfirms also represent the efforts that contribute to situational crimeprevention. The government faces budget constraints in the allocationof funds to security and other sensitive sectors of the economy.Therefore, it is impossible for the number of police officers to beindefinitely increased. It is also unrealistic that each member ofthe public would be assigned personal security. Other companies andorganizations may need specially-trained, private security tosafeguard their safety. Besides, some high net-worth individualsespecially feel the need to protect themselves from potential harm.These persons may require private bodyguards to be at their servicecontinually. The police force does not offer such comforts sincetheir wages are covered by public funds. Therefore, private securityfirms endeavor to fill this need. These companies take responsibilityfor training civilians in security protocols and response mechanisms.
Situationalcrime prevention adopts security measures so as to fit specific formsof criminal activity. In this manner, the environment has to bemanaged, designed, and manipulated so as to render primary preventionand protection. Situational crime holds that an offender freelyelects to commit a crime upon contemplation. Therefore, the act ofcommitting a crime is active rather than passive. An offender decidesto commit a crime based on their immediate circumstances andsituation. Also, the motivation that drives a person to commit anoffense is always intermittent. The offender has the power to resista criminal impulse and display acceptable behavior. In this manner,situational crime prevention downplays the possibility of inheritinga criminal tendency or disposition (Smith and Cornish 65). Rather, anoffender weighs the rewards against the costs before undertaking acriminal act.
Granted,situational crime prevention does not influence the original decisionto cause offense. It only controls the final decision made as towhether to offend a particular target (Smith and Cornish 88). Forexample, a burglar’s decision to break and enter is motivated bypsychological or social factors. However, the decision concerning theparticular house to invade is determined by situational factors.These factors would hardly drive a person to commit an offense.Rather, they can help to deter and redirect a person who is alreadycommitted to a crime.
Therefore,situational crime prevention has little concern for the particularfactors observable in the background of a criminal. The environmentalfactors that influence a crime are also inconsequential. Theseincludes issues such as inadequate opportunities for socialization,poor education, broken families, and poverty. However, situationalcrime prevention enacts measures that bear a direct relation topreventing crimes. Such measures are primarily concerned witheliminating the opportunity of committing a crime.
Many examples inmodern history can be cited to prove the effectiveness of situationalcrime prevention through reduction in the chance to commit a crime.For example, authorities in Wales and England separated carbonmonoxide from the domestic gas supply. This prevented thousands ofpotential suicides since the people lacked the means of ending theirlives. Subsequently, the trends of self-violence were reversed. Thisalso shows that situational crime prevention could be used to stopother crimes related to drugs, alcohol, and domestic violence. Othersuccess stories include the case of Sweden in 1975 (Pease 99). Atthat time, the country experienced a decreased number of chequefrauds due to the introduction of cards that offered chequeguarantees. In the 1970s, airlines experienced a massive reduction inhijackings owing to the adopted defensive measures (Freilich andNewman 71). Also, replacing aluminum boxes with steel ones reducedthe numbers of thefts from public telephones.
Indeed,situational crime prevention can be implemented at the individual orcommunity level. Persons could take steps to make their homes secureby marking their items and valuables. This helps in identificationwhenever a person is apprehended by items matching the description ofthose reported as stolen. An individual can also decide to barricadetheir doors and windows to prevent forceful entry. Installing alarmsystems and deploying security dogs also help to ward off potentialcriminals. Neighborhood watch programs are an excellent means ofprotecting the safety of a community. Any suspicious activities andincidents are promptly reported to the police. Environmental designis also a fundamental segment of situational crime prevention. Thisincludes the use of streetlights and checkpoints at entry points intoa building (Lab 123).
The challenge of situational crime prevention occurs in motivatingpersons to take active steps to ensure their security. In thisregard, it is helpful to establish an inter-agency mechanism thatseeks to prevent the incidence of crime. Private organizations needto be convinced of the benefits of seeking protection against crime.Reducing the opportunities for crime is the best way of ensuringsituational crime prevention (Smith and Cornish 130). Therefore,rather than solving the problem of crime, situational crimeprevention merely displaces the crime until social and psychologicalfactors alter the original desire to offend.
Freilich, Joshua, and Graeme Newman. Reducing terrorism throughsituational crime prevention. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne RiennerPublishers, 2010. Print.
Lab, Steven. Crime prevention: Approaches, practices andevaluations. New York: Routledge, 2015. Print.
Pease, Ken. Crime Prevention. London: Routledge, 2012. Print.
Rengert, George, Mark T. Mattson, and Kristin D. Henderson. Campussecurity: situational crime prevention in high-density environments.Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2010. Print.
Smith, Martha, and Derek Cornish. Theory for practice insituational crime prevention. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne RiennerPublishers, 2010. Print.