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The Situational Approach to Crime Prevention

July 31, 2013

kid at doorThere were quite a number of people who contributed in the form of research and analysis to the concept/approach that was eventually described by Ronald V. Clarke in around 1995 as Situational Crime Prevention. At its core is the idea that by reducing or removing the opportunities for crime, less crime can occur – a thoroughly logical and straight forward idea that I have a great deal of time for. In particular, and with a great deal of experience of the various attempts at crime prevention that have been attempted down the years, this idea gets away from an approach that attempts to reduce crime by understanding the motivation for crime, then attempts to demotivate the potential perpetrator. Such approaches seem to me to be based on the utterly nonsensical belief that anyone can ever understand what is going on inside somebody else’s head.

At it’s core, the idea of SCP is built upon some fundamental pillars :

  • Target hardening – build a physical perimeter around the asset that is appropriate for reducing the ability to attack the asset
  • Access control – put in place measures to prevent people from gaining access to the asset in an uncontrolled manner
  • Surveillance – make the asset visible and make the approaches to the asset also visible
  • Target removal – where possible do not keep the asset in the location at all
  • Property identification – always ensure that it is clear to everyone that the property where the asset is kept is private
  • Reduce temptation – reduce the perceived value and increase the perceived risk
  • Alerting conscience – ensure that everyone knows what crime is and that it is not acceptable
  • Controlling factors that undermine constraint – remove the potentially enabling factors from the environment
  • Making compliance easier – offer options for alternative behavior

In my next post on this subject I am going to explore some typical crimes and show how SCP offers a potential to reduce or prevent crime in the real world.

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