Crime Prevention In Britain Criminology Essay

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Historically, crime prevention in Britain was always considered to be the responsibility of the police. Indeed, this historical legacy is still intensely felt in the form of the dedicated Crime Prevention Officer and in police involvement in many crime prevention initiatives. However the role of crime prevention in policework has always been accorded a somewhat lower status than other kinds of policework. There is evidence for this in the acceptance by many police forces that effective crime prevention can only be achieved through co-operation between the police and the community (McLaughlin and Muncie, 2001, p.304). Tackling crime then requires help from the community and this has been achieved by the neighbourhood watch programme. Neighbourhood watch had an affect in reducing crime in general as well as in car crime.

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. 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, 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).

On the whole 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.' 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 as mentioned 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 an immense 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 makes up for just under a fifth of all recorded crime, among 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) were;

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 aim of a crime than new cars (Home Office, Crime Reduction, 2008).

A report issued by BBC News in 2000 mentions that 'the high volume of crime which often worries people most is car crime and burglary which 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

(BBC News, Crime the facts behind the figures, 2000). 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 prevention strategies we will look at the other prevention strategies.

Generally speaking the primary method of crime prevention is better vehicle security, better enforcement and a 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.

One of the central car crime prevention was improved security on new cars, benefiting from the common fitting of electronic immobilisers on 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 (home office, crime reduction, 2008).

According to Tilley (2005) immobilisers had a large reduction in car crime.

This was not only on new cars the government was improving used car security to reduce significantly the number thefts. This left newer cars benefited from immobilisers and left older cars being more at risk. The response of the government was then to promote and insure motorists were installing immobilisers on older cars. 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" (Home office, crime reduction, 2008). Another vehicle security was the tracking device installed in new cars. This deteriorate thief's as the vehicle that has been stolen could be traced through the tracking device.

What has been mention is the vehicle security and The measure with the biggest single pay off is the widespread fitting of electronic immobilisers. The other area the government encouraged was the police working together and creating a better enforcement.

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.

According to Newburn (2007, p.568) not only was the immobilisers the leading prevention to crime it was also the neighbourhood watch scheme.

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).

Another area which the police worked together was with car insurance. This enabled the police to not only prevent crimes from hotspots, where car crime is at its highest but to release information to the public of area to be aware of.

Car owners in parts of London, County Durham, Yorkshire and Manchester are most likely to have their vehicles stolen or broken into, a study by BBC News 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 inadequately 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 twelve months to August 2009. (BBC News, UK's car crime hotspots revealed, 2009)

A report issued on GMTV reveal the Top 10 places in the UK where owners are likely to have their vehicles stolen or broken into

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.

(GMTV, Car crime hotspots, 2009).

Although car crime can take place in any area at any time, these reports were to not only make the public aware but to insure motorists of the hotspot areas and to take precautions and to take safety measures.

Better policing and community responses prevented car crime. Newburn (2007) points out that 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.

Car crime in car parks was a very common area and improving car park security was another task for the government. 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 (Webb, et al, 1992, p.7). Car crime is high in car parks but there have been strategies to keep it low. Car park barriers were introduced which lowered the amount of cars getting stolen and car parks being patrolled which reduced the thefts from vehicles.

A report form the Newcastle City Council said that is committed to reducing car crime. The car parks are all regularly patrolled and 95% are monitored by CCTV to provide additional security (Newcastle City Council, help stop car crime, 2010). CCTV was a huge achievement in reducing car crime in car parks, town centres and housing estates but a research for the Home Office has found that CCTV is only effective in cutting car crime and has a slight effect in reducing other offences. The review of a series of CCTV studies revealed vast cameras that are in town centres and housing estates do not have a significant impact on crime. An analysis of 44 research studies was carried out by the Campbell Collaboration, a review body, which found that while cameras have a slight 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. 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" (Telegraph, CCTV only effective at cutting car crime, 2010).

It is now clear that car crime prevention stratagies have been effective and not only have car manufactures taken a role in reducing crime by improving new car secruity. Driver and vehicle licensing agency (DVLA) have also played a vital role in reducing car crime. There has been a vast changes in DVLA all to which make it difficult for car crimes. DVLA are always developing new procedures and are now working with the motor salvage industry. 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).

Another improvement within DVLA is the system which 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 (Direct Gov, Vehicle crime reduction initiatives, 2010). Another prevention from DVLA was the certificate of destruction (as already mentioned) when the vehicle is at its end of its life.

Crime reduction stratagies have been put in place and have shown an improvement in car crime. Car crime does not just require the police to tackle the problem but requires help from the govermnet, agencies such as housing associations, DVLA but most importantly from the community.


Whilst much progress has been made in recent years in making cars harder to steal, the dominant approch to reducing car crime has been to improve car security. All new cars come with high secruity but this left the problem with the older cars. The government then thought of a solution, the 'Government scrappage scheme' which the the car dealer gives the car owner £2,000 off a new car if they let them scrap the one they own which is more than ten year's old.

as discussed CCTV has a vast prevention on car crime, but in many cases CCTV is only for car crime and does not resolve other crimes.

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)

Maxfield and Clarke (2004, p.71) suggest, as car crime prevention prevents car crime, other area could become at risk. 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.

Other issues from car crime prevention could result in house burglaries and the theft of the car keys, as cars are difficult to steal with the new and improved security. This has resulted in the government using the media to let the public know of the problem and how to keep safe.

Nevertheless crime preventing has had affects in reducing car crime, but as criminals will always find loop holes, the government, police and other agencies need to keep up. The government need to be able to respond rapidly to new trends as they emerge.

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