What Is Situational Crime Prevention?

crime prevention law hammer

Situational crime prevention is a technique that has been around for the last 40 years and focusses on altering the environments in which crime is perpetrated. In this article, we will be looking at what exactly situational crime prevention and how it differs from modern approaches to crime prevention.

What Is Situational Crime Prevention?

Most modern schools of thought on crime prevention focus on those individuals who commit crime and the communities that produce them. By comparison, situational crime prevention focuses on the environments which host crime behavior and looks at ways to alter them so that they are less suitable for the committing of criminal behavior.

 

SCP as a way to prevent crime is based on four main factors:

 

  • Rational choice, which involves understanding the thought process of offenders who choose how to commit a crime
  • Specificity, which looks at specific types of crimes to understand the opportunities that allowed the offender to commit a crime
  • Opportunity structure, in which analysts gather information from both offenders and victims to create a “map” of the path the offender took to committing a crime
  • Techniques for crime prevention that reduce the opportunity for crime

Where Does it Come From? 

The idea of situational crime prevention was pioneered by the British government’s criminology department, but is now used by law enforcement agencies across the world.

How Does it Work?

SCP focuses on decreasing the benefits crime offer by increasing the risks for offenders and reducing the opportunities for crime. Law enforcement personnel using SCP achieve this by focusing on five aims, increase the effort required to commit a crime, increase the risks of committing a crime, reduce the rewards of crime, reduce provocations to commit an offense and remove excuses for breaking the law.

What Are the Benefits?

One of the major limiting factors to the prevention of crime is the lack of funding for preventative measures. SCP is, by comparison to other measures, relatively cost-effective and can, therefore, be implemented by a wider range of agencies.

 

Because of the geographical focus of SCP, research has shown that implementing it in one area has a knock-on effect in other areas, making multiple communities, instead of just one, safer.

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Written by:

Lisa Myers, J.D., L.L.M.

Legal Studies Department Director

J.D. L.L.M. Campbell University

B.A. Corllins University