The Debate About Crime Prevention And New Policys Criminology Essay

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This essay will examine and analyze the debate about crime prevention and the new policy, which is called victimisation prevention.

Crime prevention is considered as the role of police and the Criminal Justice System. However, this role is since being doubted in the last few decades. The prevention of crime is a controversial theme. "Victims are the primary consumers of police services" (Karmen, 2007 p. 135). Within this framework, the opinions and demands of victims, as they stem from their experiences, form the relation between police and community. Thus, both the Legal Service and Criminal Justice System pay attention to help the victims and offer them physical and psychological aid, such as compensation, acknowledgement and civil rights. Therefore, under this statement, demonstrated by Karmen (2007), one might assume that the role of police and the Criminal Justice System is limited to victimisation prevention rather than crime prevention. Is that so? In order to answer this question, one should identify what constitutes crime prevention and victimisation prevention.

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Crime prevention "ensures that the crime does not even take place" (Doherty, 2004, p. 46). According to Kuhlhorn and Svensson (1982) cited by Doherty (2004, p. 46), "crime prevention measures are all technical informative and educational methods aimed at preventing criminal acts and effected in a way that allows an evaluation of the extent to which the aim is achieved". On the other hand, "victimisation can be defined as the act or process of someone being injured or damaged by another person", which in most cases contain elements of power abuse (Cutler, 2008, p. 834).

The idea that local authorities should cooperate in order to identify and deal with criminal acts was first launched in the late 1970s by the National Crime Prevention Council of Sweden (Sutton and Cherney, 2002, p. 326).

An example of crime prevention is Community Safety Officers (CSOs) in Australia (Cherney, 2004, p. 115), who play a crucial role in delivering crime prevention and in sustaining the community safety. Nevertheless, this community safety policy by the police officers under the 'Safer Cities and Shires' program tends to ignore some important factors and to need more authorization in taking initiatives, in comparison to the capabilities they already have. Painter and Farrington (2001) point out that the improved street lighting can be another measure towards the direction of crime prevention.

Furthermore, Bowers, Hirschfield and Johnson (1998, p. 430) mentioned another approach of this subject. More specifically, they stress the fact that the avoidance of repeated victimisation, especially the victimisation related to residential properties, is a catalytic factor in crime prevention. Their research is focused on victimisation of non - residential properties, where the impact on the economy and society is much greater compared to the residential properties. The same opinion seems to be shared by Tseloni and Pease (2003, p. 196), who claim that the prevention of repeated personal victimisation can be a measure against crime prevention. In addition to these authors, Phillips and Sampson (1998) are of the same opinion. More specifically, in their paper they describe a crime prevention strategy that began in March 1999. The aim of this project was the reduction of the repeat racial victimisation of Bengali and Somali residents in a neighbourhood in East London.

Sutton and Cherney (2002) support that crime prevention, should be seen within the framework of politics. More specifically, the authors support that the initiatives, which are taken for the prevention of crime are not abstract from the political ideologies and the political vision. However, one should bear in mind that political ideologies, political regimes act within a social framework, and thus they form or follow the social order.

The social structure is very important in crime and victimisation prevention. Hence, crime prevention through social development (CPSD) is another crucial aspect of the examined subject (Kelly, Caputo and Jamieson, 2005, p. 308). This model recognizes many social factors that are involved in committing a crime. The social variables that are included in crime victimisation are social class, age, gender and ethnicity (Carrabine, Cox, Lee, Plummer and South, 2009, p. 165). However, this model highlights the importance of the prevention activities "within a social development framework".

In relevance to the above-mentioned models, Andersen and Jenion (2008) introduce a new tool towards crime prevention, the so-called LandScan Global Population Database (ambient population). This tool can be used within the Primary - Secondary - Tertiary (PST) model, in order to understand in depth the conditions and the initiatives, from which crime can stem, as well as the existing crime problems.

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A new term has been launched in criminology and policy - making: internationalization of crime prevention strategy, because of the multinational society in which we live. According to Knepper (2005, p. 58), two models exist in the international policy making: "the evidence - based model, advocated by the Campbell Collaboration, and the reflexive model, envisioned by George Soros's Open Society foundations network" .

According to the evidence - based model, multinational research may be conducted, in order to identify the factors that lead to the commission of crime, thus the policies would be able to be directed towards crime prevention. These factors may include individual and family characteristics, as well as neighbourhood and community characteristics (Knepper, 2005, p. 59). Moreover, a cost - benefit analysis and experimental methods can be conducted at a cross - border level. At this point, it should be mentioned that this model was first introduced in the sector of health, but it could be expanded to a crime prevention model, following the general idea behind it.

On the other hand, the reflexive model has been used in the financial sector. The idea behind this model is a link between social science knowledge and social intervention. Both models are inspired from Popper's social philosophy, which support that social science "can be understood as the embodiment of a certain critical attitude towards ideas" (Knepper, 2005, p. 67).

Since the mid - 1970s great concern began to be given to the victims of crime. As Wright (2003, p. 177) demonstrates, the first shift of the Criminal Justice System in Britain, from the focus on offenders towards victims, took place in 1974 by the introduction of Victim Support. This attention was drawn in order for the victim to be used as a resource in the fight against crime (Walklate, 2007, p. 10).

Kirchengast (2006, p. 185) suggests that the emergence of victims' rights was stimulated by the need of the victims to respond to the state, which seeks to manage and dominate society.

Laycock and Clarke (2001) state that the concept of crime prevention changes in the mid 1970s, when the research department of Home Office undertook a program, according to which crime could be prevented if the management or the design of the environment was changed. The general idea of this program was that it should lay emphasis on the characteristics of the individuals, either before they committed a crime, operating as a form of victimisations' prevention model, or though the criminal justice system.

Furthermore, according to the statement of Home Office (2006), "the needs of victims must continue to be at the heart of what the Criminal Justice System does". In order for the rights of victims to be better protected, the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime was launched in April 2006. For the first time, victims obtained legal rights. Before this Code, in 1990 was introduced the first Victim's Charter, known as "A Statement of the rights of victims of crime" (Home Office, 1990, cited by Tapley, 2007, p. 56). This Victim's Charter was the most important reform considering victims of crime.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which was issued in the U.S.A. in October 1984, changed completely the attitude towards victims of crime, by providing continued aid, which would help victims to confront the results of a criminal action (Renzettti and Edleson, 2008, p. 739).

According to Garland (1996) cited by Walklate (2001, p. 929), this shift in the police's policy is merely justified by the fact that crime prevention has been a complicated process. The author suggests that the state alone can not prevent the crime in an effective way. Therefore, citizens are also responsible for minimizing the chances of the crime to take place. This point of view seems to be shared by Wright (2003, p. 183), who demonstrates that "social crime prevention is focused on the pressures towards crime (a more accurate term than 'causes') society as well as the individual shares responsibility".

The procedure of sharing the responsibilities is based on judgments about "values, ethics, prejudices, loyalties, and allegiances" (Karmen, 1990, p. 103). The notion of the difference between the social classes, the races and the sexes, the protection of the interests of each social group, thus the social knowledge in general lies in the heart of the problem for Karmen (1990). The author's point of view is the shared responsibility. Hence, the issue is the extent that the victim and the offender share the responsibility for the crime committed. Furthermore, as Watts, Bessant and Hil (2008, p. 173) point out, in a worthy number of cases, violence is an element of "intimate relationships".

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Lauritsen and Archakova (2008, p. 97) demonstrate some policies so victimisation can be prevented. One solution may be the change of some societal conditions related to the impulse of criminal acts. Another approach according to the authors may be the change in the role of individuals. This point of view supports the proposal of Garland (1996) cited by Walklate (2001), who discussed the responsibility of the citizens and consequently the community.

Stewart, Schreck and Brunson (2008) in their study mention that the learning of the street code behaviour can be useful for victimisation prevention. According to Anderson (1999) cited by Stewart, Schreck and Brunson (2008, p. 140), "the code of the street is an informal system governing the use of violence, especially among young African American males". In order for this code to contribute to the victimisation prevention, there is a need for the relationship between police and citizens to be improved and for the "broad legitimacy of legal institutions" to be promoted. Community can contribute to this interaction, due to its massive and strong presence in the criminal justice process (Milagros, Matias and Julianes, 2008, p. 32).

Another aspect of crime and victimisation prevention is highlighted in the work of Bussmann and Werle (2006). The authors examine the economic crime and company victimisation. This is why, company insiders may be involved in an economic crime and thus putting into danger the reputation of the company, the phenomenon of special and privileged treatment of crime offenders is very common. On the contrary, companies are seeking ways of crime prevention, such as the implementation of whistle blowing systems (Bussmann and Werle, 2006, p. 1135). Since the crime has been committed, companies turn to the solutions of internal investigation, commissioned and external investigator or called in law enforcement officers (Bussmann and Werle, 2006, p. 1139).

Since the 1970s, crime prevention policy began to give its position to another policy form, the so - called victimisation prevention. Under this policy, the community cooperates alongside with the police, to minimize the possibility of criminal acts. Moreover, it is mentioned that the community plays a major role in the criminal justice process. Within this framework, the level of effectiveness of crime prevention strategies depends on the level of the participation of the whole community, and its impact on victimisation prevention (Milagros, Matias and Julianes, 2008, p. 31).

A finding worth mentioning stems from a study of the British Crime Survey (BCS), the scope of which was to measure the level of satisfaction of citizens in the work of police, including how police and local agencies deal with anti - social behaviour and crime reduction, for the time period October 2007 - October 2008. In this survey, the findings were not disappointing, since the majority of the adults who answered to the survey conducted, seemed to have confidence in the role and the work of police, relevant to anti - social behaviour and crime reduction in local areas. Another finding of this research is that the perceptions of police in dealing with these problems depend on various "socio - demographic and socio - economic groups" (Thorpe, 2008, p. 3).

The identification of the social factors being involved is an important step towards this direction. Nowadays, citizens are aware both of their rights and of responsibilities towards crime and criminals, thus forming a new policy of crime prevention, based on the notion of partnership. As Wright (2003, p. 184) suggests, "Crime and conflict can never be eliminated". Both however, can be exploited in such a way, where criminals and victims, individuals and communities can gain from their learning experiences.