Crime prevention in focus
“In matters of justice and the rule of law, an ounce of prevention is worth significantly more than a pound of cure… prevention is the first imperative of justice” (UN Secretary General 2004).
In other words, the prevention of crime is a keystone requirement for a safe and secure society, the achievement of which is a prerequisite for sound economic growth through continuing business investment as well as community well being and cohesion.
Evidence clearly shows that effective crime prevention initiatives can contribute significantly to the achievement of safe and secure societies. For example, along with many other Western developed countries, Australia has experienced significant declines in almost all categories of crime over the past decade. However, the current costs of crime remains at an unacceptably high $36 billion per year suggesting that as encouraging as recent trends in crime rates may be, there remains a considerable level of crime related harm that needs to be reduced and prevented.
The police alone cannot prevent crime, so government agencies, community groups, businesses and individuals need to combine their resources in an effort to avert a range of crimes before they happen. A combination of crime prevention effort targets crimes such as drug related crime, property crime, violence, robbery, vandalism, underage drinking, truancy and juvenile crime.
How it happens
Crime prevention programs generally work by changing a combination of environmental and social factors relating to the incidence of offences.
For example, the social approach is most commonly directed at trying to influence the underlying social and economic causes of crime while the environmental approach seeks to change the specific characteristics of the environment that causes criminal events. Environmental crime prevention interventions include but are not limited to activities such as improved security through strengthening locks, improving surveillance, improving street lighting, installing closed circuit television, putting locks on windows, introducing safer money handling procedures, and limiting the amount of money held on premise.
The social/structural approaches may include action to improve housing, health and educational achievement as well as improved community cohesion through community development measures. The social approach also tends to focus on crime prevention measures that can take some time to produce the intended results.
This framework has been prepared for the Australian and New Zealand Crime Prevention Senior Officers’ Group by the Australian Institute of Criminology and endorsed by the Standing Council for Police and Emergency Management on 11 November 2011.
The AIC officially launched its crime prevention technical assistance service Crime Prevention ASSIST at the Crime Prevention & Communities conference held in Sydney in June 2012. Crime Prevention ASSIST is designed to support crime prevention policy-makers and practitioners, including those working in law enforcement agencies, Federal, State and Territory government, local government, and in community organisations. Crime Prevention ASSIST, which builds on crime prevention theory and the best available evidence about good practice in crime prevention, includes three areas of service delivery:
- production of applied crime prevention resources
- training and professional development in crime prevention evaluation
- funded research and evaluation services.
To facilitate knowledge exchange the AIC has developed the CP ASSIST web portal, which can be accessed directly at www.cpassist.aic.gov.au, or through the AIC’s homepage. The web portal is a centralised, national repository of resource materials (toolkits, tip sheets, better practice guides and applied research publications) relevant to the needs of the diverse range of crime prevention professionals. The CP ASSIST web portal is intended to evolve over time to include further publications, video seminars and workshops, as well as crime prevention knowledge exchange networks. Crime Prevention ASSIST staff can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Events & publications
Recently, the AIC developed for NSW Government Attorney General and Justice, Effective crime prevention interventions for implementation by local government: http://www.crimeprevention.nsw.gov.au/cpd/forcouncils/evidencebased_strategies.html
The AIC publishes a wide range of reports and articles focusing on crime prevention including:
- Effective crime prevention
implementation by local government
Cost-benefit analysis and its application to crime prevention and criminal justice research
A model performance framework for community-based crime prevention
Measuring the effectiveness of drug law enforcement
Community policing in Australia
Bushfire arson prevention handbook