Crime Prevention

The existence of crime in a society is from the beginning of time. Every other person shows a behavior that is inconsistent with our value system. A society cannot eliminate crime but it can always reduce it. When a nation or society indulges itself in activities and strategies that could prevent crime from happening in the first place, it is called crime prevention. Crime prevention aims at reducing crime in a society with the help of various techniques and adopting different strategies and programs. The UNODC also provides for basic principles that govern crime prevention and that are to be followed at national as well as international level. Crime prevention can take form in many different ways and should be prevented accordingly with the help of different strategies. A society can also benefit from crime prevention in several ways with a major focus on the safety and security of the people.

Introduction

Crime Prevention is a term which means to prevent the occurrence of any future crime in a society. It is an attempt to stop or reduce the performance of an act that amounts to a crime. Crime prevention plays a very important role in ensuring a safer environment for the citizens of a nation. Policing for the lessening of crime prevention in a nation can be proactive or reactive. Proactive crime prevention policing means that it stops the happening of a crime in the first place while reactive aims at responding to a crime when it has already occurred. The reactive policing is often a budgetary burden on the Indian Justice System and also the displeasure of a common man to seek justice.

Crime prevention is of the utmost importance to law enforcement agencies as it provides for a sense of safety and protection among the citizens. Preventing a crime helps in avoiding the costs incurred because of the crime and the suffering that a victim goes through. Police are the key aspect in the prevention of crime as they can prevent crime at a local level and hence the police should more actively participate in activities that could prevent crime. Crime prevention is not only limited to police but it is also a responsibility of everyone.

Crime Prevention in India

In India, the crime rate is increasing every passing day and the burden on our justice system also keeps increasing while it is trying to cope-up with the previous criminal cases. It has become a never-ending cycle of crime and because of this reason, India needs effective crime prevention policing. Most often, Reactive Policing is witnessed in India which means that when a crime is already taken place, our justice system then responds to it. Due to this ineffective policing, India is facing a hike in crime rate. Proactive Policing should be adopted to avoid the occurrence of a crime and reducing the increasing rate of crime in a country like India which in turn will reduce the burden on the justice system. It also involves the examination of crime trends and educating the communities about crime prevention.

Crime prevention, if avoided at the local level, can be avoided at a large scale. The role of the police is very crucial in preventing crime at a local level as they can regularly observe the surroundings and anticipate an occurrence of a crime. India as a developing country, adopts new methods and technology to increase its growth prospectus. Despite being a developing country, it is often noticed that India is in the backdrop of technological advancements particularly in respect to the investigational work of the police. Prevention of crime can only be done at the local level if there are ample resources available for the police and therefore the technological advancements are necessarily required for effective reduction crime.

The law enforcement agencies or police can carry out crime prevention by performing functions such as:-

1. Surveillance:

Police surveillance is one of the activities that are used for crime prevention and is also considered effective. Prevention of crime by surveillance is done through ‘deterrence’ and creates fear in the mind of criminals that police are observing and have a constant presence. Although, if a crime occurs in an under-surveillance place, it benefits the police in the way that they would have evidence for investigation and/or would alert them for a reaction on the crime occurred. Surveillance is mostly done through  CCTV and this technology is most useful as it is considered as evidence in a criminal case and can be used for prosecution. However, crime can also be displaced in the to a place of non-surveillance and it is upon the authorities to prevent it accordingly.

2. Offender Tracking:

Another activity to prevent crime is offender tracking. Offender Tracking system contains information about the prisoners or previously prosecuted criminals and that information makes it easy for police to catch the actual perpetrator. However, India is still struggling in technology that supports the offender tracking system and offenders often turn loose due to this lag in the system. An offender tracking system with better technology can escalate public safety.

3. Crime Analysis:

Crime analysis means the analysis of crime data recorded by the police. Crime analysis can be helpful in crime prevention as it would disclose the ‘pattern’ by which a crime is occurring. Police can determine what will be the next move of a possible criminal. Crime analysis also includes basic crime statistics calculation and the representation should be geographical and the mapping software is used to do this representation. The usage of crime mapping and data geocoding is very wide in terms of police departments, particularly with large population areas.

Basic Principles of Crime Prevention

Crime Prevention involves strategies and activities that aim at reducing the occurrence of crime and the detrimental effects that proceed thereby. Crime Prevention conducted effectively ensures the safety of individuals in a society and avoids victimization. It also reduces the costs associated with the justice system. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is very active in supporting crime prevention whether it national or international. UNODC also encourages the member states to enhance the key factors and systems that are used for crime prevention. UNODC promotes strategies, activities, plans that also indulge society participation as a guardian of United Nations standards and norms on crime prevention. It has laid out basic principles for Crime Prevention in its “United Nations Guidelines for Crime Prevention[1]” that are as follows:-

·        Government Leadership

Government Leadership role is essential at all levels to develop and create effective crime prevention strategies and also maintaining an institutional framework for their implementation.

·        Socio-economic development and inclusion

The integration of crime prevention considerations into social and economic policies should be done including education, health, employment, etc. policies and to majorly focus on communities, families, and youth at risk.

·        Cooperation/Partnerships

Cooperation and partnerships between ministries and government are required to address the causes of crime and should be an integral part of crime prevention. Partnerships include community organizations, the business sector, NGOs, etc.

·        Sustainability/Accountability

Crime prevention activities and plans can only work if they are sustained through adequate resources and also accountability should be established for the implementation, evaluation, and funding of these crime prevention activities.

·        Knowledge Base

Strategies, policies, and actions for crime prevention should be based on pre-gained and far-reaching knowledge about crime, its problems, and causes.

·        Human rights/rule of law/culture of lawfulness

All member states must necessarily value internationally recognized human rights and the rule of law in all phases of crime prevention and lawfulness must be maintained.

·        Interdependency

The links between local crimes and international crimes should be appropriately taken into account through National Crime diagnoses.

·        Differentiation

The principle of differentiation provides for due consideration to different needs of men, women, and vulnerable members by the crime prevention strategies.

Types of Crime Prevention

In today’s scenario, crime prevention should be the topmost priority of any nation. No nation can tackle the increasing rate of crime by acting upon it after it has already happened and thus a nation needs to engage its available resources into the crime prevention activities and strategies. Crime prevention can be categorized into 3 different types which are also considered as three different meanings of the concept of crime prevention. They are as follows:-

·        Punitive Prevention

The threat of punishment is expected to prevent the act of crime in Punitive Crime Prevention. Most possible offenders have not committed a criminal act because of fear or threat of punishment that comes with the committing of a crime. Punitive crime prevention can be further classified into special and general punitive prevention.

Special Punitive Prevention is when the further criminal acts of an offender are obstructed by way of punishment. It takes a form of negative conditioning in which the pain that comes from punishment is to teach him a lesson so that he never repeats the criminal act. It is a control measure rather than a prevention measure. General Punitive Prevention is when there is an awareness of the threat of punishment and not the actual punishment. It is the true sense of prevention, in particular, punitive prevention because the possibility of punishment is the thing that keeps the offenders from committing a criminal act as he would know the pain that is associated with the punishment.

Therefore, we can conclude that the severity of punishment is the key to avoid crime. It imposes fear in the minds of prospective criminals and to some extent prevents the occurrence of a criminal act.

·        Corrective Prevention

Corrective prevention is a type of prevention that is based on an assumption that criminal behavior is an outcome of certain factors just as human behavior and this behavior cause a person to do criminal activity. The word prevention itself means the removal of the factors and causes that lead to criminal behavior. Corrective prevention can be undertaken for a specific situation where criminal behavior is anticipated or it can be taken as a general precaution in the interest of the whole society.

·        Mechanical/Protective Prevention

The concept of mechanical prevention is entirely different from the ones discussed above. There is no presence of the threat of punishment or criminal behaviors rather, there are laid out obstacles to prevent the happening of a crime by making the commencement of crime hard for the prospective offender. Obstacles such as increased police protection, advanced security measures, etc. are placed to make it difficult for the offender to commit a crime.

Benefits of Crime Prevention

Crime Prevention provides various benefits to society and also to an individual, personally. Crime Prevention cannot create a harmful situation even if the crime prevention activities are not effective. Some benefits of crime prevention are:-

  • Safety and security of the citizens
  • Reduction in crime rate
  • Increased sense of responsibility among officials as well as community members.
  • Involvement of communities for protection at the local level.
  • Saves money as one can avoid the costs incurred in the process of the justice system.
  • Improves the quality of life.

Problems Faced in Crime Prevention

The rate of crime in India or any other country is increasing day-by-day and while the justice systems are attempting to punish the guilty, another crime takes place. In a society, every other activity can be associated with criminality so there are several factors to blame for the occurrence of a crime and there has not been a clearcut approach to eliminate these factors. However, the adoption of crime prevention activities by the police also does not guarantee that the crime will be prevented or even reduced. The public at large has to be involved and educated about the activities and programs for crime prevention so that the crime is prevented at the grass-root level of the society.

Safety and protection of the citizens are the key aspects of crime prevention. Although, it the duty of police and government to protect the citizens of its country but crime cannot be prevented if every person is not involved. Crime prevention is everyone’s business and not only the police. Local communities should regularly observe their surroundings and first-hand tackle with any occurrence of a crime. Crime prevention is needed to be dealt with at the local level because it is the inception of greater crimes. Also, the public should be provided with information about the circumstances and problems of society. It develops a sense of responsibility and individualism among people. Therefore, crime prevention is important for the security of people.

There is a need for innovation in policing to prevent crime in society. Although there is an availability of the latest technology in India yet the police have not accepted the resources that are provided to address the problem of crime prevention at large and effectively. This is so because police officers are not trained or have skills to use modern technology and they prefer the traditional approach to prevent crime. Innovative policing is key to prevent crime at a faster rate and it must be the top priority of the police force in every nation.

Crime Prevention Strategies

A nation can achieve crime prevention only by adopting certain strategies and activities that could implement the prevention of crime. These strategies are important for crime prevention and they provide a planned and flexible approach towards reducing crime. The efforts that are put up in preventing crime is known as crime prevention and undertaking these strategies amplify those efforts. Some of the strategies that can be used in crime prevention are:-

·        Situational Crime Prevention

The strategy of situational crime prevention is focused on the place or a setting where a crime would occur with a special focus on specific crimes. It is a preventive approach that does not aim at improving society but to reduce the ‘opportunities for crime’. Alterations in physical environment and systems can essentially reduce the opportunities for a crime for an offender and also increasing the risk and efforts for the commission of the crime.

The situational crime prevention strategy is an outcome of the Opportunity Theory. This theory deals with the opportunities and inducements present in the environment that encourages an offender to commit a crime. Also, criminal activity doesn’t take place randomly at any location but on certain places that are called ‘hot-spots’ for the commission of a crime. Situational crime prevention can also lead to crime displacement where the offenders simply move to some different place when there is crime-prevention activity introduced in a hot-spot. However, situational crime prevention strategy does not often result in crime displacements, and when the evaluations are done systematically and with concentration, this strategy can be proved as effective in crime prevention.

·        Developmental Crime Prevention

Developmental crime refers to the behavior that is formed in a life course that can cause the happening of a crime. The developmental crime prevention strategy aims to intervene at an early stage in life so that it can prevent future criminal activity. A healthy and positive environment helps the young to avoid going on a path that is harmful and that eventually results in a criminal act. This strategy is used so that a person from a young age is able to make better choices and crime, caused due to the behavior stemmed from negative past experiences, can be avoided. The developmental crime prevention provides for the prevention of offenders that are motivated by their surroundings that includes criminal behavior to act impulsively. This strategy is designed to create a safer community for all.

·        Community Crime Prevention

The strategy of community crime prevention is somewhat a combination of both situational and developmental crime prevention. Community crime prevention puts its major focus on the ability of communities to regulate the social conditions of crime. The actions taken with a view to change the structure or culture of the resident communities that could restrain crime is the basic purpose of community crime prevention. The different types of strategies include a change in urban design, community policing, peer influence, etc. Community crime prevention can only be successful with equal efforts on the part of members and well as the police. It strengthens the ability of communities to deal with problems that can lead to a crime or violence.

Conclusion

The increasing crime rate can only result in an increased number of criminal cases to solve for the justice system if they are not effectively and efficiently prevented. Crime prevention is an activity undertaken by various nations to reduce the rate of crime and create a safer environment for the citizens. Policing has emerged as a very important aspect of the prevention of crime. Policing strategies help in identifying areas that are more likely to witness a crime and because of this reason policing should not be reluctant towards modern technology and tools. The safety of individuals can be ensured only when all community members work collectively to prevent crime. Crime prevention is not the business of a single person but everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is crime prevention?
  2. How can we prevent crime?
  3. How many types of crime prevention are there?
  4. How crime prevention benefits us?
  5. What problems are faced in the prevention of crime?

References


[1] www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/crimeprevention/resolution_2002-13.pdf

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