Crime Prevention through Social Development:

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Crime Prevention through Social Development: What does this approach to crime prevention involve and how is it applied?

"Crime Prevention comprises strategies and measures that seek to reduce the risk of crimes occurring, and their potential harmful effects on individuals and society, including fear of crime, by intervening to influence their multiple causes."

(Guidelines for the Prevention of Crime, Economic and Social Council resolution 2002/13, UNODC)

To many people crime prevention can mean many things, therefore it is important to define ‘crime prevention’ and ‘social development’ and there significance behind them. Crime prevention is better known as “the reduction of the future risk of crime” (Mayor's Task Force on Safer Cities, 1992, p. 7). While social development is mainly attributed to programmes that address social determinants in the environment, intergroup relationships and interpersonal (Mayor's Task Force, 1992).

Crime prevention through social development is promoted from the assumption that crime is connected to economic and social factors, this connection recommends prevention programmes which transform the usual opportunity declined means to crime prevention (Mayor's Task Force, 1992). Addressing social programs are essential to the implementation of CPSD. Successful CPSD programs will involve a mixture of programs designed at social problems such as unemployment, inadequate housing, ineffective parenting, drug and alcohol misuse and domestic violence. CPSD contain a long-term, joined strategy that compromise with the root purpose of crime. Van Dijk and de Ward (2009: 137-8) used the term ‘secondary offender oriented crime intervention’ as a means referred to the early intervention programs which are designed for young people and children (and their parents) recognized as ‘at risk’ of offending. Although it is not limited to young people, many policies have focused on targeting childhood risk causes (Farrington 2007). The goal is to lower risk factor that outset individuals, especially children and youths heading towards crime, while forming protective factors that may lessen those risks. Hence when organizations within the society are continuously working to prevent crime they are likewise working to make the whole community safe, sustainable and healthy in many respects. CPSD promotes community principles about the respect towards people and their possessions, non-violence attitude, assist young people to defy peer pressure while making good decision. Prevention addressed to the social causes of crime requires a long-term and less clear effort then catching thieves. The difference to situational prevention is that social development focus on the measures aimed at dealing with the root causes of crime and the predisposition of people to offend (Graham and Bennett 1995). In the previous literature, social development as a crime prevention was generally referred as ‘community safety’ or ‘community crime prevention’ (Hope 1995).

CPSD programming can transpire at three levels;

  1. Primary Level- refers to the population based programs in the way that it targets health care and public education.
  2. Secondary Level- refers to those at higher risk for criminal activity. These include parenting programs for high risk parents and programs for youths at the possibility of leaving school.
  3. Tertiary Level- refers to the care programs for offender to lessen re-offending while giving means of rehabilitation.

Other strategies which are better known as;

  • Individual-level strategies; target on addressing existing insufficiency that may constrain people at risk in engaging in crime. These programs are mainly aimed to children and youths.
  • Family-oriented strategies; administer parenting support and education to the parents of young at risk children, set up healthy surroundings where children are cared for while strengthening family capacity.
  • Community-level strategies; seek to reinforce community capacity to avoid crime. This usually involves cooperation in order to help building relationship between individuals. Other type of community level strategies include community outstrip programs. Such programs produce culturally and socially opportunities for pleasure and cultural expressions.

In relation to CPSD, some critics are arguing that because it is ‘elastic, the probability of becoming either too controlling within the social policy or too diffused is high. Such concerns are brought up be the need to explain its scope of influence and analyses of the bridges, boundaries and relationships between social policies and programs in connection with crime prevention.

In order that CPSD programs perform with integrity, they need to have enough means to function what they are set out to do. Policies are essential as to guide program delivery and to guarantee that there is responsibility for results.

Social Exclusion

Social exclusion is described as ' a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low income, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health, poverty and family breakdown' (SEU1999).In order to reduce social exclusion, policies are needed to be addressed. Interventions can produce means for communities that can be used to minimize criminal behaviour by developing social conditions better. The goal is to support community bonds which help in stopping actual/potential offenders. The scope of social crime prevention is to target those individuals who are more prone to offending by letting them feel more involved within the community. Developmental crime prevention is the early recognition of likely offenders/victims by interfere in some way to keep them away from achieving there potentials. From an offender perspective, prevention could take the form of early childhood interference for those who are considered to be exposed to criminal lifestyle. The best program in this kind of scenario is to attempt to reform the child health (physical/mental) and education background. However, for those who already engaged in criminal activity, the prevention of relapsing into criminality could be through rehabilitation programs intended on reforming them through different ‘treatment’ systems.

Crime is a multi-dimensional problem. Studies have indicated an insight into the nature of crime which can help us in developing preventative measurements. Most of the professionals within the criminal justice have openly accepted the idea that in order to combat crime there need to be the help of the community.

Factors which may be linked to social development

Development prevention will try to explore risk factors which may outstand future possibility of criminality, guarding factors that may weaken the tendency of criminality, and limiting factors which may usher young people in engaging in criminal activities. However, prediction of future risks can never be correct information. An implication with differential programs is that one can possibly be stigmatized by society due to unintentional labelling (Bernburg and Krohn 2003). Most of the information about risk factors is based on diversity between individuals, when in fact prevention requires modification within individuals (Thornberry and Krohn 2005).

Family: Parental criminality, family discord and conflicts, ineffective supervision and discipline, large family size and psycho-social disadvantages are all family characteristics which are strongly identified with delinquency (Rutter and Giller, 1983, p. 219).

In addition, family income is an influence on these variables. West and Farrington (1973, p. 192) stated that low family income is heavily associated to inadequate child rearing.

Poverty, housing and friends: Poor housing and low family income is a major point since it can leave an influence factor which may trigger delinquency. However, West and Farrington (1973, p. 191) refuse the idea that lack of money on its own can cause delinquency. Friendships with delinquent peers are linked with more constant misconduct (Leblanc and Biron, 1978; Cusson, 1981). This synergy contributes with the offender “permission” to offend (Matza, 1964) and acts as the master mind for the offence (Cusson, 1981). Public housing is likely to put families with various problems in one area (Rouse and Rubinstein, 1979, volume 1., p. 35). Such problems include the presence of single figure in a family, unemployed individual, linked with substance dependence and feelings of resentment. This problem also increases the probability that youth which are already likely to delinquency will meet other youths which are inclined, intensify the possibility of delinquency.

School: Schools are generally pictured as a structure which replaces the family by which it provides a solid framework for the child. Cusson (1981) points out that when a student does not contribute to schoolwork therefore does not succeed, the student is more likely to get bored and frustrated which can result into theft, vandalism and fights with the classmates providing a stimulating reward.

Work: The primary consequence of failing in school is the struggle of succeeding in the wok-place. Material possessions can be achieved through work, therefore this can be difficult for one who doesn’t work. Coward and Ohlin (1960, P.86) stated that because of limitation faced to achieve certain goals in legitimate ways, they are more likely to engage in delinquent acts.

Challenges to Social Development

Mass Media: The link between violence and aggression behaviour shown in the media with personality traits are relatively high (NIMH, 1983, p. 6). The National Institute of Mental Health stated that "televised violence and aggression are positively correlated"(NIMH, 1982, p. 38). However, studies have shown that apart from the increased aggression that media can have on individuals there are other factors such as low IQ, poor nutritional health and tend to picture the world as a frightening place. Hence, these factors are linked to crime.

Health: Schauss (1981) concluded that “diet, toxic metals, food additives, insufficient nutrients, food allergy, lack of exercise and malillumination (sic) can all contribute to criminal behaviour" (p. 95).

International Perspective on Crime Prevention through Social Development

Most international police agencies have established crime prevention units which support different community-based programs intended at lowering opportunities for crime. Such programs include Stoplift, Neighbourhood Watch and Block Parents. Shop owners have set up programs to lower shop lifting. Through education directed at lessening the motives of wilful damages, incentives and resistant materials, vandalism can be reduced. Neighbours grouping together is helpful in reducing residential burglaries, this promote residential security by making their homes seem occupied at all times. Such programs are generally not expensive and some even consider that an increased responsibility can have even better outcome. Neighbourhood watch have showed impressive reduction in the figure of residential burglaries, especially when used across a city in a pro-active way (Waller, 1982; "Tandem" in Liaison, 1983).

From an international aspect, crime prevention through social development is not recent idea. The United States Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice, in 1967 suggested that "a dollar for housing, a dollar for schools ... were dollars for crime prevention." Criminologists, Gluecks (1962) and Cloward and Ohlin (1960) were an inspiration for promoting special programs of opportunities which targeted for youths. Unfortunately, such programs often failed due to several reasons, one being is that they weren’t addressed to the right groups. France, Britain and U.S.A, have renewed their interest in crime prevention through social development in the last ten years. Few countries have created special programs to support crime prevention through social development. These programs are;

  • Inter-agency Urban Initiatives Anti-Crime Program; this program is presumably the largest crime prevention program ever formed. In order for the program to function it need to have a well co-operation of four government departments; Health, Justice, Labour and Human Resources and the Interior. The program objectives were (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, 1980).
    • Improving the administration of public safety
    • Rehabilitating anti-crime facilities and improving physical security layout
    • Increasing the number of police in fighting crime
    • More jobs for youth who are at high risk of engaging in criminal life-style
    • Improving anti-crime assistance for elderly residents, housing-project youth, drug abusers and victims
    • Adding more police and law enforcement
    • Improving public housing sites as well the neighbourhood settings

Risk classification, risk assessment and profiling have certainly become more influential form of modern criminal justice system. Although the likely preventive welfares and cost savings of addressing ‘high risk’ groups, such early interventions programs raise ethical concerns. Gatti outline the right of young people and children not to be marginalized as future offenders, either if they become delinquents or not, this is referred as ‘one of the greatest ethical problems raised by early prevention programs’ (1998:120). Lastly, most of the practitioners adopt to use the universal programs rather than the targeted ones.


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