Controlling Crime In An Educational Environment Criminology Essay

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Crime control in educational environments is becoming a major concern owing to the increasing number of crime reports. It is necessary to understand what students are exposed to in society and .. The changing education system is also to be considered.

The age is also a factor which determines the nature of crime that a youth is involved in. The major concern which arises now is the crime rate increasing with lower age group.

It is necessary to understand how students interact with their environment

It is necessary to understand the basic definition of crime in an educational environment perspective.

The educational environment would include the physical territory of the educational setting and the spaces it has authority over.

Crime is defined as by the oxford dictionary as "an action or omission which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law". In the case of educational environments the various offensive actions against the rules and regulations put forth by an institution to protect its students and their environment. The various classification of crime which is likely to be addressed in this study occurring in educational environments is:

Vandalism

Robbery

Burglary

Motor Vehicle Theft

Simple Assault

Other classifications of crime are aggravated assault, drug/narcotic violations, arson, larceny, forcible rape, murder.

Vandalism is distinguishably classified by Cohen in 1973 as:

Acquisitive - to obtain monetary or physical property possession,

Tactical - consciously committing an offence.

Ideological - similar to tactical vandalism, but to express ones emotions or ideas graffiti on walks etc.

Vindictive - offensive behavior motivated through vengeance, for breaking glass a professor's office to express anger against them.

Play - committing offense in a playful nature; for example who can break the most windows of

a house

Malicious

Role of Technology:

CCTV's, metal detectors and other security systems are becoming accepted as common furniture in an educational environment. But some criticisms do arise owing to issues regarding privacy. Most Statistics show no correlation between crime control and CCTVs. However most CCTV's are merely used to deter crime rather than prevent them. CCTV's have solved cases of vandalism, bullying, graffiti, personal assault and theft. They have helped to bring down the crime rates in educational environments. According to Professor Gill people are more worried of being victims of crime rather having a feeling of security.

It is necessary to understand how crime is treated as these may have adverse effect on the student's life. The trend has moved from school based discipline to a rather formal arrest and court of law situations.

In understanding the nature of crime, it is necessary to consider factors which revolve around crime that provides a favorable situation for the occurrence of crime.

The various spaces that make an educational environment are to be considered. They can be classified as:

Administration buildings

Facilitative buildings

Educational buildings

Public spaces

The parameters to be valued against all these spaces would determine how prone they are to crime. Some of the factors are:

Authoritative

Function

Time

Academic Schedule

Student's attitude towards Crime:

The foremost thing about crime in a student community is their awareness. There have been several reports and media coverage on the percentage of crime reports in Universities around United Kingdom such as.. Hence students are more aware and with the increase in international students, the selection of a University based on crime rate is also an important factor. Students have to be alerted by the administration to beware or avoid situations which they could fall a victim. It is necessary they understand the various services and facilities provided to them. It is the responsibility of the administration to publicize these issues using various media such as posters, announcements, routine checks, surveys etc. It is necessary students are aware of the various design considerations which have been taken by the university to prevent crime. Systems must be regularly checked and maintained properly. The efficiency of the systems and designs must be evaluated for their performance through users feedback.

As DuBow et al. point out '"[F]ear of crime" refers to a wide variety of subjective and

emotional assessments and behavioural reports. There is a serious lack of both consistence

and specificity in these reports' (1979:1)

Design Parameters

Crime prevention through Environmental Design provides four parameters through which design factors are evolved and evaluated. The parameters are:

Natural Surveillance

Natural Access Control

Territoriality and

Maintenance

Natural Surveillance

It is the over lapping of functions in a space which enables the space to be viewed by people at all times. Subtle changes in design can bring in more activity into a space encouraging natural surveillance such as

Provide wrought iron fencing instead of solid walls.

Trimmed and low eye level landscape features such as bushes and trees which do not obstruct view.

Do not provide boards or statues which hinder possible views.

Provide seating area which could encourage more students to be present in open spaces.

Provide proper lighting in dark spaces which shows clear visibility. This reduces fear of crime and provides a more secure feeling. Though this issue is under debate stating well light spaces draw attention whereas dark spaces keep out students and if and activity is suspected, it is clearly visible through light buds and flashlights. Hence the context and the need for lighting in a space have to first be analyzed. Lighting levels are being specified to provide proper visibility. Most communities are encouraged to change from yellow lighting to white for better visibility at times of evidence of witnessing a crime. The research in lighting to prevent crime is a more detailed and interesting topic which may be subjected to further study.

Providing over hanging shades or tinted glassed in spaces restrict the need for providing or closing blinds which may result in better surveillance of a space.

Encourage more informal activities by providing vending machines etc for students to hang around a space encouraging natural surveillance.

Natural Access Control

This is the ability to allow or restrict a person within the campus or building. It is necessary to monitor the various access points to a space. The number of entries and exits determine the movement of people in that space.

Provide railings or grills in windows, so that they are not misused even when the need to open windows in summer occurs.

Provide appropriate number of entries and exits for spaces. For example provide two entries for an indoor stadium so that at times of emergency, people can use either or the most suitable for exiting the building.

There might be number of unlocked doors or spaces which are not enclosed etc in an educational environment, but try to minimize or monitor the main entries and exits into the site appropriately.

A central authority to enable the alarm system in case of emergency should be trained and regularly monitored.

Access to areas must be limited to authorized users by using security code or other alarm systems which maybe financially and practically viable.

Territoriality and Maintenance

Territoriality and maintenance are both interrelated. Territoriality is established through subtle design features such as hedges or signs where one is not physically restricted but shows the limit of the campus and where the public space begins. Clear demarcation between visitors parking etc must be clearly indicated. Signage's for differentiate building must be provided to help visitors, new students or emergency team identify spaces. Maintenance is another important part of territoriality, any signs of a space not maintained such as overgrown landscape, broken windows or fences show signs of deteriorating spaces which lead to breeding grounds for crime. These signs of spaces being unmaintained are the cause for their misuse for criminal acts. Hence proper maintenance and territorial definition of spaces are an importance factor in keeping out crime.

Circulation Management

It refers to the control of circulation system within the campus. Clear signage's would eliminate need for students or visitors to wander off path. Wide appropriate corridor spaces with no hidden alcoves would encourage visual supervision. The demarcation between public and private access by secured doors etc would eliminate anyone from wandering around unauthorized spaces.

Innovations in product design:

"We'll never eliminate crime but we can design products to help reduce it. The Design Against Crime Research Centre creates innovative anti-theft bags and bike stands. This doesn't sound promising but their work is shown here to be effective and innovative whilst managing to look great. It's important, says one team member, not to turn the world into a fortress."

- BBC, Scotland

Innovation in product design is gaining popularity over the last decade for their effectiveness and efficiency in handling crime subtly through design. Several research promoted and innovative products have been launched are increasing its popularity.

It is an integrative approach to design which brings together people from various disciplines such as designers, design catalysts, researchers, criminologists and crime scientists, anthropologists, engineers, manufacturers, the police and other stakeholders. This provides a holistic approach to design providing a common platform for different perspectives. The approach is not in designing the product but the process of deterring the opportunity for crime itself. It is to study how the opportunity arises for such a situation and how it can be overcome through design. This is more of a design thinking process rather than a design solving process which is defined by Hilary Cottam et al (2006) as Transformation design. The system adopts a means to achieve a "secure design" rather than "security" design which might result in "fortress aesthetics". The products are user centered which gives more priorities towards the user demands and adaptability towards customer needs. The process in designed to understand the interaction between the product and the user. Several questions are answered in the process, such as what is expected of the product and how the product delivers its needs, how it's is used and what are the various experience of the user.

Some of the products are bags which are not easily accessible with no zippers at the back and with mesh lining inside to prevent it from being slit. They also have a security alarm which goes off when the bag is snatched and it gives away so that no harm is done to the user. Several innovations in bike stands and bike shelters have been researched as crime against bike users prevent them from using bikes which makes them use alternative means of transport. Hence, discouraging an eco friendly means of transportation. Several other products such as chairs, bags, cycles etc have been designed to deter crime.

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