Understanding Levels of Crime

To prevent the reoccurrences of crimes, it is essential to understand the levels of crime in the society. To understand, the levels of crime emphasis should be given on the authentic source of data. Generally three types of standard source of data are used to understand the levels of crime in the society. These are crime reports obtained from concerned offices, self-reports, and victim survey reports. The nature of reporting of crime varies from country to country, depending on the type of crime. In India, the National Crime Records Bureau collects crime data from the police headquarters of all the states across the country and has a system to standardize the data it receives. It categorizes the reports mainly into offenses against the person and offenses against property (Chockalingham, 2003). So, the approaches to deal with social crime should have a major focus on the causes of crime at the base level, which may have their origin in unhealthy social environment, unemployment, social isolation, etc. United Nation Habitat’s Safer Cities Program 1996 also stressed certain pillars of crime prevention in urban areas. This program emphasized on integrated approach including multilevel governmental and sectoral involvement and holistic activities to deal with the problem (UN-HABITAT. 2007).

  • Community Level
  • • Develop integrated youth policies.
  • • Identify people at risk.
  • • Develop crime-free childhood.
  • • Public awareness through various channels.
  • • Organizing seminars, talks, and group discussions regarding crime at public place.
  • International Initiatives
  • • More need to design and develop international programs such as Global Network on Safer Cities (GNSC) of UN-HABITAT.
  • • UN Network of Institutes to address crime prevention and criminal justice at the global, regional, and subregional levels.
  • • The Education for Justice (E4J) initiative seeks to prevent crime and promote a culture of lawfulness through education activities.
  • • Developing crime solving approaches/models as per Doha Declaration such as SARA and Ekbloms 51s.
  • Designing and Housing
  • • Designing the public space in a way to reduce the opportunity to commit crime.
  • • Proper street layout and lighting.
  • • Proper electronic surveillance at public place.
  • • Community participation in planning and developing public places.
  • Law Enforcement
  • • Good behavior of law enforcement agencies with the victim of crime.
  • • Problem-oriented law enforcement policies.
  • • Organize events to boost public trust in policing.
  • • Organize police/public meet to identify the core areas.
  • • Strict adherence to law enforcement policies.
  • • Quick response and counseling of affected and the offenders also.

Crime and Surveillance

Surveillance is an important feature of situational crime-prevention measures that seek to reduce opportunities for offending through “eyes on the street,” target hardening, and environmental management. Authors such as Oscar Newman and Alice Coleman advocated designing the urban environment to improve natural surveillance. Coleman’s work was controversial as it implied a link between building design and crime, rather than the social conditions that underpinned a neighborhood. Other authors, such as Jane Jacobs, advocated closer community cooperation to facilitate what she referred to as natural webs of surveillance formed of people living and working in neighborhoods (Richard, 2015).

Changing Spaces: Urban Design and Crime

The spatial distribution of crime incidents varies in accordance with type. The most obvious difference is between urban and rural areas with a much wider range of crimes occurring in urban environments (Esteves, 1995; Ferreira, 1998). It was

Newman (1972) who first identified the relationship between specific aspects of urban design and levels of crime. In his theory, Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED), he argues that urban design influences the incidence of crime and the formation of hot spots. U.S. architect Oscar Newman (1972) used the concept of “defensible space” in the 1970s to argue that it was possible to modify the built environment to reduce the opportunity for crime and to promote community responsibility. Newman's idea, which centered on public housing design, helped to shape new approaches within what was then still referred to as environmental criminology. Situation crime prevention (SCP) and crime prevention through environmental design (CPED) advocated changes in physical environments and physical objects within them. These strategies have gradually become part of everyday life in public, residential, commercial, and financial urban sectors. Street fixtures such as benches, bus shelters, playgrounds, and lighting were all increasingly designed to screen out undesirable activity. Surveillance equipment and CCTV were used not only to monitor but also to deter wrong-doing.

Urban design and surveillance were taken up by academics and planners at a time when the old focus on the causes of crime was beginning to give way to a new focus on the need to manage crime. SCP and CPED, for example, are clearly linked to Felson’s “routine activity theory.” Crime has been seen as an inevitable phenomenon that can best be managed by reducing the opportunity to commit an offense rather than by seeking to reduce individuals’ desire to commit a crime in the first place.

Criminology remains divided on the implications of this shift. Some argue that it addresses the needs of, and empowers, those communities—often among the most deprived—that live with the realities of high crime rates. Community safety is identified as an important element in any kind of neighborhood regeneration. Mike Davis (1999) offers an extreme but very interesting view here. His account of Los Angeles as an “ecology off ear” reworks the original Chicago School zonal theory and argues that the linking of urban design and policing has led to a destructive militarization of urban landscapes which protects privilege and punishes poverty.

Newman’s own reworking of defensible space theory (1996) stresses the need to move beyond urban design to address community relations. People should feel that they own public space and share a responsibility for it not simply that they are being monitored. This kind of thinking is evident more in the communitarian approaches to governance that emerged in the 1990s and which are also very much linked to postwelfarism. New Labor’s 1998 Crime and Disorder Act has had a major impact on British approaches to crime and community. Crime was to be tackled not just by the police and the courts but by new Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) which were set up in over 300 local authorities. The partnerships require a multiagency approach, typically involving the police, local councils, health authorities, and voluntary agencies. The emphasis is on identifying both local crime problems and what works to reduce these. There are two key strategies here. First, the community is made responsible as part of a wider dispersal of power and, second, these new styles of local policing encourage a new kind of attention to local trouble spots.

Increasing interest in the localized nature of crime has led to highly localized policing strategies and even localized criminal justice legislation. Dispersal orders, ASBOs, curfews, and other measures are all tailored to particular environments.

They aim to stop certain people behaving in certain ways in certain spaces at certain times. Civil rights campaigners have warned that these spatial techniques represent a dangerous trend because, among other things, they sanction a move away from the principle of a common, universal criminal justice system operating equally across a state. They have launched a number of legal challenges to the government on these issues.

Some criminologists believe that this kind of work is valuable because it can show more precisely where crime problems are and w'here polices should target their resources. Echoing the earlier discussion of the night time economy, Bromley and Nelson’s study of alcohol consumption and crime in a British city concludes that a detailed knowledge of the variety of spaces and times of alcohol-related crime and disorder is key to the development of appropriate urban design, planning, and licensing policies and can be used to inform a more closely targeted policing strategy. White and Sutton (1995) stress the limits of quick fixes for crime, arguing against episodic initiatives and technological strategies in favor of strategies “which see crime and public safety as stemming first and foremost in the community.” Herbert and Brown (2006) argue, similarly, that the relationships between identities, values, and spatial environments are complex and should not be oversimplified (Carrabine et al„ 2009). Finally, this kind of analysis may work for public order offenses, but does not help the police to tackle other kinds of crime w'hich take place in private, as opposed to public, space: w'hite-collar crime, domestic violence, fraud and state crime, for example.

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