Type I Violence

Because most workplace homicides occur during the commission of a robbery, actions aimed at preventing robberies will likely reduce the number of workplace homicides (see Amandus et al., 1995). Robbery reduction strategies typically focus on increasing the risks, reducing the rewards, and increasing the effort associated with robbery (Desroches, 1995; Hendricks et al., 1999; OSHA, 1998). Because risk factors for robbery will differ among workplaces, no single strategy is appropriate for all organizations (OSHA, 1998) and prevention strategies must be customized to worksites (Mayhew, 2000b). That being said, three principles - increasing visibility, reducing rewards, and target hardening - underlie most robbery reduction strategies (Mayhew, 2000a, 2000b; OSHA, 1998). Collectively these techniques are known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) (Casteel and Peek-Asa, 2000; Jeffrey, 1971; Peek-Asa et al., 2004).

Increasing visibility

Increasing visibility is thought to increase the perceived risks for potential criminals, thereby deterring crime. For taxi drivers, means of increasing visibility include the use of global positioning systems that show the location of a driver in distress (OSHA, 2000), external emergency lights (Mayhew, 2000a) and in-car surveillance cameras that allow the potential identification of perpetrators (Appleby, 2000; Mayhew, 2000a). Data from both Australia and Canada confirm the effectiveness of surveillance cameras. In Perth, a 60 percent reduction in assaults followed the mandatory introduction of surveillance cameras (see LeBlanc et al., 2006). Crimes against taxi drivers have been reduced by more than 50 percent since the implementation of a bylaw in Toronto, Ontario requiring taxi owners to install either security cameras or GPS in their cars (Calleja, 2002).

In retail establishments, increasing visibility has meant increasing the chances of someone witnessing a crime (see Purpura, 1993). Most crimes occur late at night when there are few potential witnesses (e.g. D’Alessio and Stolzenberg, 1990). Keeping windows clear of signs (e.g. advertisements) to allow passers-by to see inside (Purpura, 1993), and locating the cash register in a place that can be seen from the outside (e.g. in the center of the store) are means of increasing visibility. Hendricks et al. (1999) found that poor visibility to the inside of stores and cash registers located along the wall of stores rather than in the center of stores were strongly associated with increased risk of robbery. Closed circuit television (CCTV) and video cameras may also deter criminal behavior by increasing would-be robbers’ perceptions of risk (OSHA, 1998).

Clerk behavior can also communicate visibility. Common recommendations are that clerks should make eye contact with customers and greet them as they enter the store (e.g. Desroches, 1995; Gabor and Normandeau, 1989) thereby making would-be robbers feel conspicuous (Desroches, 1995; Gabor and Normandeau, 1989). OSHA (1998) suggests that employing two clerks during evening shifts may also reduce the incidence of robberies, although this is a controversial recommendation (see Amandus et al., 1996) that is not supported by either the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (see Richman et al., 1999). Critics of OSHA’s (1998) two-clerk condition argue that there is limited empirical evidence supporting the validity of the two-clerk provision, hiring two clerks is expensive, and employing more than one clerk potentially increases the number of workers exposed to robbery-related violence (see Casteel and Peek-Asa, 2000). While there is some support that stores employing two clerks during late-night shifts experience fewer robberies (e.g. Calder and Bauer, 1992), more research is required before a decision can be made about whether this is an effective strategy for reducing robberies (Casteel and Peek-Asa, 2000). Commercial establishments should have practices in place to ensure the safety of employees who work alone (e.g. routinely checking on individuals who work alone; Mayhew, 2000b).

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