Crime Prevention And Its Responses In Britain Criminology Essay

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Vehicle related represents a substantial proportion of all property crime - probably in the region of one fifth. And yet, crimes involving motor vehicles seem far from a political or a criminological priority. Why? Corbett (2003) suggests that the primary reason is our value system: we are practically and emotionally dependant on the car and consequently reluctant to admit, let alone embrace, the problems associated with its use. Much car crime is not perceived as real crime. And yet, as we will see, the social costs are significant, Corbett (2003) identifies five main reasons why car crime is not treated as seriously as many other forms of crime:

The legal view - many of the consequences of illegal behaviour in cars is not intended, has no premeditation and does not involve personal gain. Such behaviour is therefore different from some other illegal acts.

The critical criminological view - the state encourages use of the car, is often unwilling to punish the middle classes and tends, therefore, to prioritise 'theft of and from vehicles' over other forms of car crime.

The role of gender - traffic laws were conceived by men, men dominate car usage and it is men who appear to enjoy the risks and thrills associated with high speeds on the roads. In this manner masculinity may be linked to the general down playing of car crime.

Neoliberalism - the Thatcher government of the 1980s sought to stimulate private transport and, arguably, reinforced existing cultural views that drivers should not be subject to stringent policing.

The power of the electorate - there is a strong body of opinion, backed by some of the tabloid press, which regularly rails against traffic policing and can be heard arguing that 'surely the police have better things to do?' Given the power of the motoring lobby, politicians are often reluctant to attempt to impose tougher sanctions (Newburn, 2007, p.465).

All in all offences under road traffic law are crimes as this is an integral through separate part of the criminal law (Corbett, 2003, p.5).

This general category of car crime covers a range of offences. Corbett (2003, p.7) suggests that, in practice, 'no correct way exists of defining what should be deemed "criminal" or "crime" in a motoring sphere, but the boundaries can be drawn in line with Sutherland's view that crimes are acts causing social harms or injuries.'

In practice, as we have already noted, official discussion of car crime tends to reduce it largely to 'theft of and from a vehicle' (Newburn, 2007, p.466).

Other behaviours that might be perceived as car crime are problematic to measure. For instance, knowingly driving while very tired is common

But on the whole there are two areas of car crimes, one 'theft of car' and the other 'theft from the car'.

There have been solutions in which the government, policing and other agencies have all worked together and found ways to prevent car crime. There has also been vast amount of information by the media, policing and government in preventing car crime. This has been seen by advertising information to the motorist, essential guidelines such as informing motorists never to leave valuables or items on show in your car, if you have to leave briefcases and other items in your car, put them out of sight before you start your journey, and secure the doors, windows, boot and sunroof every time you leave the car. All the information that was provided was effective in car crime prevention but all these are the small area of crime prevention. This essay will explore the wider area of car crime prevention.

According to Tilley (2005, p.459) the problem of vehicle crime began to develop and be recognized as an emerging problem from the 1918-19.

The best remedy in this case is an improvement in the system of registration which might be so arranged as to make the disposal of a stolen vehicle extremely difficult (Tilley, 2005, p.459)

Vehicle crime accounts for just under a fifth of all recorded crime, with just over a million thefts of and from vehicles recorded during 1999/2000. If we compared this internationally, U.K. was one of the worst. Some of the key facts from the Home Office (2008);

Key Facts (1999)

One in five car owners are "very worried" about having their vehicle stolen and young men in particular worry much more about this than any other crime.

Thefts of, and from, vehicles are one of the largest categories of crime recorded by the police. In 1999/2000 just over a million thefts of, or from, vehicles was recorded - 19% of all recorded crime.

Cars, which are 11 years old, are fourteen times more likely to be stolen than those which are new.

The Prime Minister has set a national target of reducing vehicle crime by 30% over five years. In practice this means that by March 2004 there should be 323,000 fewer car crimes a year than there were in April 1999.

Home Office (2008)

Key Facts (2003)

Thefts of vehicles are down 18% since 1999

Thefts from vehicles are down 24% since 1999

8.2% of households/adultsĀ  were victims of vehicle crime in 2002/03, compared to 9.9% in 1999

Older cars are still far more likely to be the object of a crime than new cars.

Home Office (2008);

A report issued by BBC News UK in 2000 mentions that 'the high volume crime which often worries people most, car crime and burglary, shows a gratifyingly substantial drop. Car crime, by 15%. Burglary by 21% - bringing it to its lowest level since 1982.

The report also mentioned that these results proved the achievement of police campaigns around the country to target these crimes.

It can be seen that car crime is down and that the strategies are working in reducing car crime.

Although car crime is down we will explore and look at the effectiveness of the prevention strategies.

At various times there has been a concerted effort from central government in the U.K. to address the problem. One of the most significant was the introduction of steering column locks in 1970 (Maxfield and Clarke, 2004, p.26). introducing the government scrappage scheme also accounted for a significant fall in the car which the government knew that older cars were more at risk, although these were just some of the strategies.

Generally speaking the primary method of crime prevention is better vehicle security, better enforcement and safer environment. This can also be classed as the three E's which Corbett (2003) points out. The three E's are; enforcement, engineering and education.

Better vehicle security


Improved security on new cars, benefiting from the widespread fitting of electronic immobilisers on new cars from around 1992 (and which became compulsory under EU law from 1998). Encouraging manufacturers to fit deadlocks and other security features on a wider range of models will help reduce "thefts from" as well as "thefts of" vehicles;

According to Tilley ( ) immobilisers had a large reduction in car crime.

Improving used car security to reduce substantially the number of "thefts of". This can be achieved, in particular, by the widespread fitting of electronic immobilisers. Whether to legislate for this is a matter for Government but the Action Team believes this is the surest way to achieve our common objective. Encouraging retailers to promote and consumers to buy, a package of security measures for used cars will also help reduce both "thefts from" as well as "thefts of";

The measure with the biggest single pay-off is the widespread fitting of electronic

Immobilisers on new and used cars

Another vehicle security was the tracking device installed in new cars. This deteriatted thiefs as the vehicle that has been stolen could be traced through the travcking device.

Better enforcement

Neighbourhood watch

Without doubt the best known and widely adopted crime prevention programme in Britain has been Neighbourhood Watch (NW). NW appeared first in Britain in the early 1980s (the first scheme was established in Mollington, Cheshire in 1982) and was promoted force-wide by the Metropolitan Police in 1983. Neighbourhood groups would be formed to carry out informal surveillance, thereby deterring thieves through 'opportunity reduction' and providing an early warning system for the police. The spread of NW was remarkable. Within a decade of its establishment, over five million households were covered by one of over 100,000 schemes in England and Wales (Central Statistical Office, 1994), (Newburn, 2007, p.568).

The police working together

It is the responsibility of the police and their statutory partners, in the interests of their communities, to develop strategies for crime control at the local level, which combine prevention and detection.

This means they should:

Collect accurate information on crime and disorder and share it.

Ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to analyse their data effectively and produce evidence-based strategies and tactics on the basis of it.

Target hot spots.

Monitor the effects of their strategies and modify them where appropriate.

Learn to use "levers" to get action from other agencies and organisations.

Listen to local communities.

(Maxfield and Clarke, 2004, p.31).

Crime and disorder act 1998 also placed a duty on the chief police officers and local authorities to work together in the reduction of crime.


UK's car crime hotspots revealed

Car owners in parts of London, County Durham, Yorkshire and Manchester are most likely to have their vehicles stolen or broken into, a study says.

Chislehurst, south-east London, is the worst-hit postcode area, according to analysis of 3.8m insurance quotation requests by Money supermarket.

The comparison website said Wingate, Co Durham, was the second most badly hit, followed by Redbridge, east London.

Hatfield in Doncaster and Manchester city centre made up the top five.

Some 3.82% of motorists from Chislehurst, in the borough of Bromley, told the website they had claimed for theft of a car - or items from a vehicle - when making a claim in the 12 months to August 2009.

We reveal the Top 10 places in the UK where owners are likely to have their vehicles stolen or broken into

A number of other east London areas - including the centre of Romford, Buckhurst Hill, Woodford Green and Hornchurch - also featured high in the car crime list.

Among large urban areas badly affected by car crime were Cardiff, Sheffield and Leeds. motor insurance head Steve Sweeney said: "I am not surprised to see metropolitan areas of the country such as Manchester and Sheffield fall in the top 20 postcode areas.

"However, what the research does reveal is that broad mixes of places across the country are at risk, highlighting the issue that no matter where you live, there is always a chance you could become a victim of theft. Motorists should take this risk seriously."

These were the top 10 areas with the largest percentage of motorists who made car crime insurance claims in the period September 2008 to August 2009:

Top ten

Chislehurst, south east London;

Wingate, Durham;

Redbridge, east London;

Hatfield, Doncaster;

Manchester city centre;

Banwell, Somerset;

Bradford city centre, West Yorkshire;

Arbourthorne, Sheffield;

New Tredegar, Newport, south Wales;

Romford town centre, east London.

Better policing and community responses

The circular emphasised the traditional role of the police in the prevention of crime, and then went on to go outline the potential contribution of other agencies: 'since some of the factors affecting crime lie outside the control or direct influence of the police, crime prevention cannot be left to them alone. Every individual citizen and all those agencies whose policies and practices can influence the extent of crime should make their contribution. Preventing crime is a task for the whole community' (Newburn, 2007, p.567) this can also be seen as the neighbourhood watch.

Improving car park security

According to british Crime Survey, 22% of thefts of cars and 20% thefts from cars in England and Wales take place in private or municipal car parks (p.7). car crime is quite high in car parks but there have been things to keep it low. barriers were introduced which lowered the amount of cars getting stolen and car parks being patrolled which reduced the thefts from vechiles.

Newcastle City Council is committed to reducing car crime. The car parks are all regularly patrolled and 95% are monitored by CCTV to provide additional security. www car crime\Help Stop Car Crime.mht

research for the Home Office has found.

CCTV is only effective in cutting vehicle crime and has little effect in reducing other offences.

The review of a series of CCTV studies revealed cameras that flood town centres and housing estates do not have a significant impact on crime.

In one city, it only led to increased reporting of offences to the police.

It will renew fears over the role of the CCTV network in the UK, which is already the largest in the world with the equivalent of one camera for every 12 people.

An analysis of 44 research studies was carried out by the Campbell Collaboration, a review body, which found that while cameras have a modest impact on crime levels, they are at their most effective in reducing car crime in car parks, especially when used alongside improved lighting and the introduction of security guards.

The authors, who include Cambridge University criminologist David Farrington, said CCTV should continue to be used but have a much narrower focus, such as reducing vehicle crime.

Results from a 2007 study in Cambridge which examined 30 cameras in the city centre found they had no effect on crime but did lead to a rise in the reporting of assault, robbery and other violent crimes to the police.

However, the Campbell Collaboration stressed that CCTV is more effective in reducing crime in Britain than in other countries.

It said CCTV is now the single most heavily-funded crime prevention measure operating outside the criminal justice system adding: "Over the last decade, CCTV accounted for more than three quarters of total spending on crime prevention by the British Home Office."

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: "CCTV has definitely got a role to play in combating crime but its use should be decided by local communities."

Developing new procedures at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and working with the motor salvage industry

The current program of change to the U.K. vehicle registration and licensing system is presented here as an example of design change to an administrative system that is likely to affect a range of vehicles crime and anti-social behaviour. It is also likely that changes to the licensing and registration system will produce beneficial outcomes in relation to theft of vehicles (Maxfield and Clarke, 2004, p.68).

A good deal of this reduction was expected to come from tighter regulation of the salvage industry, enabling the national registration and licensing organization to be better informed of vehicles that had been scrapped. This would stop thieves from being able to steal the identity of scrapped vehicles and "give" them to stolen vehicles, a process known as "ringing." The police estimated at that time that 78,000 stolen vehicles were being rung or broken for spare parts each year (Maxfield and Clarke, 2004, p.69).

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)

Have also made it difficult for car crime to take place.

The current U.K. system assumes that both sellers and buyers of vehicle will notify the licensing authorities of change of ownership. There is, however, little incentive for either to do this, especially for buyers who want to avoid tax, insurance and Ministry of Transport (MOT) test payments. Making current owners liable for the vehicle until the licensing authorities have been notified of change of ownership (continuous registration) would create that incentive, and consequently improve the accuracy of the vehicle record (Maxfield and Clarke, 2004, p.70).

Not only buying and selling a car is difficult even getting hold of registration number plates was difficult. Registration of number plate suppliers which is a scheme to ensures that number plates are only sold by registered suppliers and to a purchaser who can show entitlement to a particular registration mark and can provide verification of personal details. Another scheme was

The vehicle identity checks (VIC) scheme, operated by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), has been introduced as a deterrent to 'ringing' cars. Ringing is a practice which involves passing off stolen cars as repaired accident damaged cars.

And certificate of destruction (already mentioned) when the vehicle is at its end of its life.

Safer environment


The average number of crimes in this area has decreased from 479.7 to 438.7 (8.5%) (compared to the same three month period last year)


The average number of vehicle crimes in this area has increased from 58.3 to 78.7 (34.9%) (compared to the same three month period last year)

Although in certain parts the car crime has risen the government has improved a lot in this area. But as theifs will always fine loop holes the government and the police need to keep up.


The guidelines also covered the need for a quality management system to ensure that parts of a vehicle's security system, such as keys, are only sold to those with a legitimate need. Whilst much progress has been made in recent years in making cars harder to steal, following this guidance will enable manufacturers to raise standards further and increase their contribution to reducing vehicle crime.

Such design and procedural changes, if implemented, could have a substantial impact on problems such as abandoned vehicles, theft of vehicles, driving without tax and so on. (Maxfield and Clarke, 2004, p.71)

This could also divert crime. It is obvious to steal cars but a lot of times this diverts to house burglars for the car keys, at the same time the thief's could take other belongings.

All so as discussed at cctv has an impact on car crime, but in many cases cctv is only for car crime

Primary prevention generally refers to action that is targeted at a general population and which aims to prevent (crime) before it occurs (Newburn, 2007, p.566). There is also secondary prevention which is aimed at more 'at risk' population. Lastly there is a tertiary prevention which tends to be aimed at known offenders in order to reduce offending (Newburn, 2007, p.566)

Crime prevention work has, consequently, focused on the three key areas of:

Enhancing the security of the vehicle itself;

Making the parking environment safer; and

Improving the effectiveness of the vehicle registration and licensing system.

(Tilley, 2005, p.465)

There have been many efforts from the government to tackle car crime.