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Routine Activities Theory (RAT) and Reaction To Crime

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1032 words Published: 2nd Aug 2018

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The RAT also known as the routine activities theory was founded in 1979 by two theorists name Marcus Felson and Lawrence Cohen (Miller, Mitchell, & Richard, 2006). It was a reaction to crime rate in the US during the years of 1947-1974 states (Cohen & Marcus, 1979). This was a time where both crime rate and economic conditions were increasing which made this a very popular theory reason for this was this theory was the only one to address crime at this point in time. Felson and Cohen based their theory on the rational choice model, which meant people made rational decision which was at their advantage and causing very little disadvantage (Akers & Sellers, 2004). (Miller, Mitchell, & Richard, 2006) The rational choice theory was the main concept in the classical school of criminology. Throughout this essay we will be looking at whether the routine activities theory prevent crime or displace crime.

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In order for a crime to occur, Felson and Cohen state there are three key elements which need to be present in order for the crime to be successful, these three elements are; a suitable target, a motivated offender, and absence of capable guardians (Cohen & Marcus, 1979). (Akers & Sellers, 2004) Suggests that if any of the three elements are to be missing the crime will not take place.The RAT is a framework which provides understanding of how crime occurs. Crime could be altered by manipulating any of the elements, therefore the methodology behind the RAT is crime prevention, and focuses on how crime is made. RAT explains that crime is normal and depends on the opportunities. The perfect type of crime which fits the profile of this theory is burglary. Burglary is a type of crime which is can be considered as a property crime, which is widespread in almost all communities. There are two major problems which can be caused by this type of crime;victims lose their possessions and the other is the amount which the crime puts on the individual.Although the RAT is a new theory, it can be said that this theory could help explain many crimes. The RAT is particularly successfully in explaining burglary.

The RAT is a crime preventing methodology, only at time does it prevent crime from occurring but most of the time it displaces crime. Since the RAT is based on peoples routine and patterns on daily activates, taking a perfect of a person who works Monday to Friday and return home after work has a very low chances of becoming a victim (assault and robbery), but if that person is to attend major events such as sports, gigs where the amount of contact with people is huge are likely to become victims of a crime. in recent years there have been a lack of capable guardian and a pattern of excessive drinking which have caused death of two girls, although this hasoccurred patterns and movement in everyday life have changed in the last 30 years. It has changed so dramatically that having to remove both guardians from the house is likely to reduce the offenders chances of getting caught during a day time burglary, the RAT argues the point that crime is unlikely to occur when the presences of element to exist (Cohen & Marcus, 1979).

Most crime are result from exploited opportunity, rather than planning the crime they choose to commit crime spontaneously when the opportunity arises, some are more tempting then others. (Felson & Clarke , 1998) has said that there are two acronyms which have been put in place to examine suitability of targets for crime, a: VIVA (standing for value, inertia, visibility, and access) and b: CRAVED; concealable, removable, available, valuable, enjoyable, and disposability which are the elements of conceal ability and disposability (Clarke, 1999) Visible target which are worth value are portable and easy to get at.

Since RAT looks at the patterns and movement of daily activities for people it is can prevent crime and also at the same time displace crime, if a person can alter any of the three elements can crime could be prevented or displace depending on the outcome of the alteration. Reppetto (1976) has stated that there are five types of displacement.

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Spatial and territorial displacement-this happen to most common crimes, this is when crime is moved from one place to the other. Several researches have been made to see the movement for example (Chainey, 2000) found that CCTV is effect way to see the reduction in auto thefts and robbery. However some auto theft occurred in surrounding areas, but robberies didn’t.

  • Temporal displacement – occurs when there is a movement in time when occurring, the crime for example the offender moving from weekday morning to weekend morning, but crime occurs in the same area. Important to RAT as it analysis pattern and movement.
  • Target displacement-occurs when offends cannot get their target due to target hardening and other strategies put in place to stop offenders such as dogs, house alarms etc.
  • Tactical displacement-when the criminal comes up with a new method of committing the crime, for example carjacking was easier 10-15 years ago than today.
  • Functional displacement – this occurs when it is difficult for an offender to commit and crime and is forced to commit another crime due to target hardening.

In conclusion, there have been several approaches to studying victimology, they have suggested that the understanding the target, understanding the pattern and victim of crime that make offenders more attractive can provide important information and the examination of the crime. Knowing people and places where offenders are going to target and when the crime is likely to occur – can be critical in preventing or reducing crime. The RAT is a perfect theory which provides patterns and analysis of day to day activities for individual who are a target, this also provides on which was this attack can be prevented but mostly the way that is can be displaces. This is a piratical theory which can provide information to victims on how to prevent of displace crime f5rom occurring and make them feel safe.


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