There are several approaches to crime
prevention. These raise the issue of social
control - the capacity of societies to regulate
SITUATIONAL CRIME PREVENTION (SCP)
SCP strategies are a pre-emptive approach that
relies on reducing opportunities for crime.
They target specific crimes by managing or
altering the environment & aim at increasing
the risks of committing crime & reducing the
'Target hardening' measures including
locking doors, security guards,
re-shaping the environment to 'design
crime out' of an area.
Underlying SCP is rational choice theory:
the idea that criminal act rationally,
weighing up the risks & rewards of a
SCP measures may simply displace crime, moving it
to different places, time, victims, types of crime etc.
This approach may explain opportunistic
petty street crime but not whit-collar,
corporate & state crime. The assumption
that criminals make rational calculations
may not be true of violent & drug-related
ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME PREVENTION
WILSON & KELLING argue that
'broken windows' (signs of
disorder, e.g. graffiti, begging,
littering, vandalism) that are not
dealt w/ send out a signal that no
one cares, prompting a spiral of
An absence of both formal social control (police)
& informal control (community) means
members of the community feel intimidated &
The solution is to crack down
on any disorder through an
strategy (e.g. abandoned cars
promptly towed away) & a
zero tolerance policing
strategy. This will halt
neighbourhood decline &
prevent serious crime taking
SOCIAL & COMMUNITY CRIME PREVENTION
Rather than emphasising policing, these strategies
emphasise dealing w/ social conditions that predispose
some individuals to future crime.
Because poverty is a cause of crime, general social
policies may have a crime prevention role; e.g. full
employment policies are likely to reduce crime as a
The Perry pre-school project in Michigan gave an
experimental group of disadvantaged 3-4 year olds a
2 year old intellectual enrichment programme. The
longitudinal study following their process into
adulthood showed far fewer arrests for violent
crime, property crime & drugs compared w/ peers
not in the project.
There are different justifications for punishment & they
link to different penal penalties.
Deterrence - punishment
may prevent future crime
from fear of further
offenders so they no longer
Incapacitation - removing
the offender's capacity to
re-offend, e.g. by
Retribution - the idea that that society
is entitled to take revenge for the
offender having breached its moral
DURKHEIM: A FUNCTIONALIST PERSPECTIVE
DURKHEIM argues that the
function of punishment is to
uphold social solidarity &
reinforce shared values by
expressing society's moral
outrage at the offence.
DURKHEIM identifies 2 types of justice,
corresponding to 2 types of society:
Retributive justice - traditional society has a
strong collective conscience, so punishment is
severe & vengeful.
Restitutive justice - in
modern society, there is
between individuals. Crime
damages this & the unction
of justice should be to repair
the damage (e.g. through
MARXISM: CAPITALISM & PUNISHMENT
Punishment is part of the
'repressive state apparatus' that
defends ruling-class property
against the lower classes.
The form if punishment
reflects the economic base of
Under capitalism, imprisonment
becomes the dominant punishment
because, in the capitalist economy, time
is money & offenders 'pay' by 'doing
FOUCAULT: THE BIRTH OF THE PRISON
Discipline & Punish
contrasts 2 different
forms of punishment,
which he sees as
examples of sovereign
power & disciplinary
Sovereign power - in pre-modern
society, the monarch exercised
physical power over people's
bodies & punishment was a visible
spectacle, e.g. public execution.
becomes dominant from
the 19th century &
seeks to govern not just
the body, but also the
use the panopticon to
FOUCAULT argues that other
institutions (e.g. mental asylums,
barracks, factories, schools) followed
this pattern & disciplinary power has
now infiltrated every part of society,
bringing its effects to the human 'soul'
TRENDS IN PUNISHMENT
THE CHANGING ROLES OF PRISONS
Pre-industrial Europe has a wide
range of punishments, e.g.
banishment, fines, flogging,
execution. Prison was used
mainly for holding offenders
prior to punishment.
Only later is
seen as a form of
In liberal democracies, imprisonment is often seen as the
most severe form of punishment but, as most prisoners
re-offend, it may just be a way of making bad people worse.
Since the 1980s, there has been a
move towards 'populist punitiveness'.
Politicians call for tougher sentences,
leading to a rising prison population.
The UK imprisons a higher proportion
of people than almost any other
country is Western Europe.
Most prisoners are young,
male & poorly educated.
Ethnic minorities are over
GARLAND argues that the USA & to
some extent the UK are moving into an
era of mass incarceration. In the USA,
over 3% of the adult population now
have some form of judicial restriction
on their liberty.
There is a trend towards
transcarceration (moving people
between different prison-like
institutions), e.g. brought up in care,
then a young offender's institution,
then adult prison.
There has been a blurring of boundaries between criminal justice & welfare
agencies e.g. social services, health & housing are increasingly given a
crime control role.
ALTERNATIVES TO PRISON
Recently, there has been a growth in
the range of community-based
controls, e.g. curfews, community
service orders, tagging.
COHEN argues that this has simply cast the net
of control over more people. Rather than
diverting young people away from the criminal
justice system (CJS), community controls may
divert them into it.
THE VICTIMS OF CRIME
One definition of
victims is those who
have suffered harm
(e.g. physical or
through acts that
violate the laws of the
CHRISTIE argues that 'victim' is a
socially constructed category; e.g. the
stereotype of the 'ideal victim' held by
the media, public & CJS is a weak,
blameless individual who is the target
of a stranger's attack.
There are 2 approaches to victimology:
POSITIVIST victimology focuses on interpersonal crimes of violence. It seeks patterns in victimisation &
aims to identify the characteristics of victims that contribute to their victimisation, e.g. victim proneness (i.e.
the characteristics that make victims different from & more vulnerable than non-victims, e.g. being less
intelligent), victim precipitation (e.g. WOLFGANG'S study of 588 homicides found that 26% involved the
victim triggering the events leading to murder, e.g. being the 1st to use violence).
This approach is close to being 'victim-blaming'.
Ignores structural factors such
as poverty & patriarchy.
Structural factors, e.g. patriarchy &
poverty, place powerless groups such as
women & the poor at greater risk of
Through the criminal justice process, the state
applies the label of victim to some but withholds
it from others; e.g. when police fail to press
charges against a man for assaulting his wife, she
is denied victim status.
TOMBS & WHYTE show that employers'
violations of the law leading to death or
injury to workers are often explained
away as the fault of 'accident prone'
PATTERNS OF VICTIMISATION
Repeat victimisation - a mere 4% of the population are
victim of 44% of all crimes. Less powerful groups are more
likely to be repeat victims.
Class - the poor are more likely to be victims, e.g.
crime is highest in areas of high unemployment.
Age - the young are more
vulnerable to assault, sexual
harassment,theft, & abuse at
Ethnicity - minority groups
are at greater risk than
whites of being victims of
crime in general & of
racially motivated crime.
Gender - males are of greater
risk of violent attacks; females
are more likely to be victims of
domestic & sexual violence,
stalking & harassment.
THE IMPACT OF VICTIMISATION
Crime may have a serious
physical or emotional
impact on its victim, e.g.
feelings of helplessness,
difficulties in social
Crime may create 'indirect'
victims, e.g. friends, relatives
Hate crimes against
minorities may create 'waves
of harm' that radiate out to
communities, not just the
addition to the
impact of crime
may suffer further
victimisation in the
CJS, e.g. rape
Crime may create fear of
becoming a victim even if such
fears are irrational; e.g. women
are more afraid of going out for
fear of attack, yet young men are
more likely to be victims of
FEMINISTS attack the emphasis on 'fear of
crime' for focusing on women's passivity when
we should focus on their safety - the structural
threat of patriarchal violence that they face.