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date: 26 June 2019

Crime Prevention and Public Policy

Abstract and Keywords

This article introduces crime prevention, which often refers to the attempts to prevent crime or criminal offending before the actual act has been committed. It studies four main crime prevention strategies, namely developmental prevention, community prevention, situational prevention, and criminal justice prevention. It provides an overview of the key theories that support these strategies and notes some relevant research on effectiveness. This article also considers the development of crime prevention in the United States and identifies several key issues that challenge the prevention of crime.

Keywords: crime prevention, criminal offending, crime prevention strategies, developmental prevention, community prevention, situational prevention, criminal justice prevention

Crime prevention has come to mean many different things to many different people. Programs and policies designed to prevent crime can include the police making an arrest as part of an operation to deal with gang problems, a court sanction to a secure correctional facility, or, in the extreme, a death penalty sentence. These measures are more correctly referred to as crime control or repression. More often, though, crime prevention refers to efforts to prevent crime or criminal offending in the first instance—before the act has been committed. Both forms of crime prevention share a common goal of trying to prevent the occurrence of a future criminal act, but what further distinguishes crime prevention from crime control is that prevention takes place outside of the confines of the formal justice system.1 In this respect, prevention is considered the fourth pillar of crime reduction, alongside the institutions of police, courts, and corrections (Waller 2006). This distinction draws attention to crime prevention as an alternative approach to these more traditional responses to crime.

In one of the first scholarly attempts to differentiate crime prevention from crime control, Peter Lejins (1967, p. 2) espoused the following: “If societal action is motivated by an offense that has already taken place, we are dealing with control; if the offense is only anticipated, we are dealing with prevention.” What Lejins was trying to indicate was the notion of “pure” prevention, a view that had long existed in the scholarship and practice of American criminology (Welsh and Pfeffer 2011). It is this notion of crime prevention that is the chief concern of this volume.

(p. 4) There are many possible ways of classifying crime prevention programs.2 An influential scheme distinguishes four major strategies (Tonry and Farrington 1995b). Developmental prevention refers to interventions designed to prevent the development of criminal potential in individuals, especially those targeting risk and protective factors discovered in studies of human development (Tremblay and Craig 1995; Farrington and Welsh 2007). Community prevention refers to interventions designed to change the social conditions and institutions (e.g., families, peers, social norms, clubs, organizations) that influence offending in residential communities (Hope 1995). Situational prevention refers to interventions designed to prevent the occurrence of crimes by reducing opportunities and increasing the risk and difficulty of offending (Clarke 1995b; Cornish and Clarke 2003). Criminal justice prevention refers to traditional deterrent, incapacitative, and rehabilitative strategies operated by law enforcement and agencies of the criminal justice system (Blumstein, Cohen, and Nagin 1978; MacKenzie 2006).

In Building a Safer Society: Strategic Approaches to Crime Prevention, Michael Tonry and David Farrington (1995a) purposely did not address criminal justice prevention in any substantial fashion. This was because this strategy had been adequately addressed in many other scholarly books and, more importantly, there was a growing consensus for the need for governments to strike a greater balance between these emerging and promising alternative forms of crime prevention and some of the more traditional responses to crime. Also important in their decision to focus exclusively on developmental, community, and situational prevention is the shared focus of the three strategies on addressing the underlying causes or motivations that lead to a criminal event or a life of crime. Crucially, each strategy operates outside of the criminal justice system, representing an alternative, perhaps even a socially progressive, way to reduce crime. For these same reasons, we have adopted a similar approach in this volume.

A chief aim of this essay is to provide some background on this view of crime prevention. It also serves as an overview of the key theories that support these three main crime-prevention strategies, important research on effectiveness, and key issues that challenge the prevention of crime. Several observations and conclusions emerge:

  • Crime prevention is best viewed as an alternative approach to reducing crime, operating outside of the formal justice system. Developmental, community, and situational strategies define its scope.

  • Developmental prevention has emerged as an important strategy to improve children’s life chances and prevent them from embarking on a life of crime. The theoretical support for this approach is considerable and there is growing evidence based on the effectiveness of a range of intervention modalities.

  • Community crime prevention benefits from a sound theoretical base. It seemingly holds much promise for preventing crime, but less is known about its effectiveness. Advancing knowledge on this front is a top priority. Nevertheless, there are a wide range of effective models in community-based substance-use prevention and school-based crime prevention.

  • (p. 5) The theoretical origins of situational crime prevention are wide ranging and robust. The strategy boasts a growing evidence base of effective programs and many more that are promising. There is also evidence that crime displacement is a rare occurrence.

  • Crime prevention is an important component of an overall strategy to reduce crime and is widely supported by the public over place and time. A special focus on implementation science and higher quality evaluation designs will further advance crime-prevention knowledge and practice. Striking a greater balance between crime prevention and crime control will go a long way toward building a safer, more sustainable society.

The organization of this essay is as follows. Section I looks at key historical events that have influenced the development of crime prevention in America. Sections II, III, and IV introduce, respectively, the major crime-prevention strategies of developmental, community, and situational prevention. Section V discusses a number of important cross-cutting issues.

I. A Short History of Crime Prevention in America

The modern-day history of crime prevention in America is closely linked with a loss of faith in the criminal justice system that occurred in the wake of the dramatic increase in crime rates in the 1960s. This loss of faith was caused by a confluence of factors, including declining public support for the criminal justice system, increasing levels of fear of crime, and criminological research that demonstrated that many of the traditional modes of crime control were ineffective and inefficient in reducing crime and improving the safety of communities (Curtis 1987). For example, research studies on motorized preventive patrol, rapid response, and criminal investigations—the staples of law enforcement—showed that they had little or no effect on crime (Visher and Weisburd 1998). It was becoming readily apparent among researchers and public officials alike that a criminal justice response on its own was insufficient for the task of reducing crime. This observation applied not only to law enforcement but also to the courts and prisons (Tonry and Farrington 1995b). Interestingly, this loss of faith in the justice system was not unique to the United States. Similar developments were taking place in Canada, the United Kingdom, and other Western European countries, and for some of the same reasons (Waller 1990; Bennett 1998).

writing in the mid-1980s, the observations of American urban affairs scholar Paul Lavrakas perhaps best captures this need to move beyond the sole reliance on the criminal justice system: (p. 6)

Until we change the emphasis of our public policies away from considering the police, courts, and prisons to be the primary mechanisms for reducing crime, I believe that we will continue to experience the tragic levels of victimization with which our citizens now live. These criminal justice agencies are our means of reacting to crime—they should not be expected to prevent it by themselves. (1985, p. 110, emphasis in original)

These events, coupled with recommendations of presidential crime commissions of the day—the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice (1967), chaired by Nicholas Katzenbach, and the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence (1969), chaired by Milton S. Eisenhower—ushered in an era of innovation of alternative approaches to addressing crime. A few years later, the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals (1973) sought to reaffirm the role of the community in preventing crime. Operating outside of the purview of the justice system, crime prevention came to be defined as an alternative, non–criminal justice means of reducing crime.

A focus on neighborhood, family, and employment was at the heart of this new approach to addressing crime, with a special emphasis on the most impoverished inner-city communities. Nonprofit organizations were the main vehicle used to deliver programs in these substantive areas. A number of situational or opportunity-reducing measures were also implemented to ensure the immediate safety of residents. Some of these programs included neighborhood patrols and block watches (Curtis 1987, p. 11). By some accounts, this urban crime-prevention and reconstruction movement produced a number of models of success and many more promising programs (see Curtis 1985, 1987).

This mode of crime prevention also came to be known as community-based crime prevention, an amalgam of social and situational measures (see Rosenbaum 1986, 1988). The approach was popularized with a number of large-scale, multisite programs referred to as comprehensive community initiatives (Hope 1995; Rosenbaum, Lurigio, and Davis 1998). Examples included T-CAP (Texas City Action Plan to Prevent Crime) and PACT (Pulling America’s Communities Together).

The roots of this comprehensive approach—on the social side, at least—go as far back as the early 1930s, with Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay’s Chicago Area Project (CAP; Shaw and McKay 1942). The CAP was designed to produce social change in communities that suffered from high delinquency rates and gang activity. Local civic leaders coordinated social service centers that promoted community solidarity and counteracted social disorganization, and they developed other programs for youths, including school-related activities and recreation. Some evaluations indicated desirable results, but others showed that CAP efforts did little to reduce delinquency (see Schlossman and Sedlak 1983).

The New York City–based Mobilization for Youth (MOBY) program of the 1960s is another example of this type of crime-prevention initiative. Funded by more than $50 million, MOBY attempted an integrated approach to community (p. 7) development (Short 1974). Based on Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin’s (1960) concept of providing opportunities for legitimate success, MOBY created employment opportunities in the community, coordinated social services, and sponsored social-action groups such as tenants’ committees, legal-action services, and voter registration. But the program ended for lack of funding amid questions about its utility and use of funds.

A newer generation of these programs, which includes the well-established Communities That Care (CTC) strategy developed by David Hawkins and Richard Catalano (1992), incorporates principles of public health and prevention science—identifying key risk factors for offending and implementing evidence-based prevention methods designed to counteract them. The CTC has become the best developed and tested of these prevention systems.

By the early 1990s, crime prevention found itself in the national spotlight, although not always to the liking of its supporters. This came about during the lead up to and subsequent passage of the federal crime bill of 1994—the most expensive initiative in history (Donziger 1996). Known officially as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, it ultimately became famous for its authorization of funding to put 100,000 new police officers on the streets, as well as infamous for making 60 more federal crimes eligible for the death penalty and authorizing $10 billion for new prison construction. Crime-prevention programs (in the broadest sense) were allocated a sizable $7 billion, but most of this was used on existing federal programs like Head Start in order to keep them afloat (Gest 2001).

From the beginning of the bill’s debate on Capitol Hill and across the country, crime prevention—especially programs for at-risk youth—was heavily criticized. The growing political thirst to get tough on juvenile and adult criminals alike, with an array of punitive measures, sought to paint prevention and its supporters as soft on crime. Midnight basketball became their scapegoat. Prevention was characterized as nothing more than pork-barreling—wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. The end result of all of this was mixed: crime prevention had received substantial funding, but it had been relegated to the margins in the public discourse on crime (Mendel 1995).

In more recent years, crime prevention has emerged as an important component of an overall strategy to reduce crime. One reason for this is the widely held view of the need to strike a greater balance between prevention and punishment (Waller 2006). Another key reason has to do with a growing body of scientific evidence showing that many different types of crime-prevention programs are effective (Sherman et al. 1997, 2006; Welsh and Farrington 2006) and many of these programs save money (Drake, Aos, and Miller 2009). Not surprisingly, the economic argument for prevention has attracted a great deal of interest from policymakers and political leaders (Greenwood 2006; Mears 2010). The recent evidence-based movement (see Welsh and Farrington 2011) has figured prominently in these developments in raising the profile of crime prevention.

(p. 8) II. Developmental Crime Prevention

The developmental perspective postulates that criminal offending in adolescence and adulthood is influenced by “behavioral and attitudinal patterns that have been learned during an individual’s development” (Tremblay and Craig 1995, p. 151). The early years of the life course are most influential in shaping later experiences. As Greg Duncan and Katherine Magnuson (2004, p. 101) note: “Principles of developmental science suggest that although beneficial changes are possible at any point in life, interventions early on may be more effective at promoting well-being and competencies compared with interventions undertaken later in life.” They further state that: “early childhood may provide an unusual window of opportunity for interventions because young children are uniquely receptive to enriching and supportive environments…. As individuals age, they gain the independence and ability to shape their environments, rendering intervention efforts more complicated and costly” (pp. 102–103).

Developmental prevention is informed generally by motivational or human development and life-course theories on criminal behavior, as well as by longitudinal studies that follow samples of young persons from their early childhood experiences to the peak of their involvement with crime in their teens and twenties. Developmental prevention aims to influence the scientifically identified risk factors or “root causes” of delinquency and later criminal offending.

The theoretical foundation of developmental prevention is robust, and is the subject of the two opening essays of this volume. Frank Cullen, Michael Benson, and Matthew Makarios overview the major developmental and life-course theories of offending, with a special interest in how the theories explain why some individuals “are placed on a pathway, or trajectory, toward a life in antisocial conduct and crime.” David Farrington, Rolf Loeber, and Maria Ttofi summarize the most important risk and protective factors for offending. They conclude that impulsiveness, school achievement, child-rearing methods, young mothers, child abuse, parental conflict, disrupted families, poverty, delinquent peers, and deprived neighborhoods are the most important factors that should be targeted in intervention research.

Richard Tremblay and Wendy Craig’s (1995) classic, sweeping review of developmental crime prevention documented its importance as a major strategy in preventing delinquency and later offending. It also identified three key characteristics of effective developmental prevention programs: (1) they lasted for a sufficient duration—at least one year; (2) they were multimodal, meaning that multiple risk factors were targeted with different interventions; and (3) they were implemented before adolescence. Since then, many other reviews have been carried out to assess the effectiveness of developmental prevention, often focusing on a specific intervention modality. This is the approach taken in the next three essays.

Holly Schindler and Hirokazu Yoshikawa review the evidence on preschool intellectual enrichment programs. They find that preschool interventions focused specifically on child-relevant processes (i.e., cognitive skills, behavior problems, or (p. 9) executive functioning) have shown impressive results. Equally desirable effects on long-term behavioral outcomes, including crime, have been demonstrated by what they call “two-generation” preschool programs, which also include a focus on parenting skills or offer comprehensive family services.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of parent training for children up to age five years, by Alex Piquero and Wesley Jennings, shows that this intervention is effective in reducing antisocial behavior and delinquency. The authors also find that parent-training programs produce a wide range of other important benefits for families, including improved school readiness and school performance on the part of children and greater employment and educational opportunities for parents. Training in child social skills, also known as social competence, is the subject of another systematic review and meta-analysis by Friedrich Lösel and Doris Bender. This type of intervention generally targets the risk factors of impulsivity, low empathy, and egocentrism. The authors find that the overall effect of skills training is desirable and that the most effective programs used a cognitive-behavioral approach and were implemented with older children and higher risk groups who were already exhibiting some behavioral problems.

In the final essay in this section, Deborah Gorman-Smith and Alana Vivolo take on the much broader subject of the prevention of female offending through a developmental approach. This is important because little is known about what may work for this population. Their review of prevention programs confirms that most studies continue to focus on male offending; the mostly poor evaluation designs of existing programs for girls and adolescent females prohibit a valid assessment of effectiveness, and a gendered analysis of mixed programs is often lacking.

III. Community Crime Prevention

More often than not, community-based efforts to prevent crime are thought to be some combination of developmental and situational prevention. Unlike these two crime-prevention strategies, there is little agreement in the academic literature on the definition of community prevention and the types of programs that fall within it. This stems from its early conceptions, with one view focused on the social conditions of crime and the ability of the community to regulate them, and another that “it operates at the level of whole communities regardless of the types of mechanisms involved” (Bennett 1996, p. 169).

Tim Hope’s (1995) definition that community crime prevention involves actions designed to change the social conditions and institutions that influence offending in residential communities is by far the most informative. This is not just because it distinguishes community prevention from developmental and situational prevention, but also because it highlights the strength of the community to address the sometimes intractable social problems that lead to crime and violence. This focus on (p. 10) the social factors leaves aside physical redesign concepts, including Oscar Newman’s (1972) defensible space and C. Ray Jeffery’s (1971) crime prevention through environmental design. Ron Clarke (1992, 1995b) describes how these important concepts are more correctly viewed as contributing to the early development of situational crime prevention.

Numerous theories have been advanced over the years to explain community-level influences on crime and offending and that serve as the basis of community crime-prevention programs (for excellent reviews, see Reiss and Tonry 1986; Farrington 1993; Sampson and Lauritsen 1994; Wikström 1998). Steven Messner and Gregory Zimmerman’s essay makes a unique contribution to this body of knowledge. Through a macro-sociological lens, the authors elucidate the distinguishing features and evolution of the community–crime link. In a separate essay, Wesley Skogan expounds on the nature of disorderly behavior and its relevance to crime, communities, and prevention. Of particular importance is the role that disorder may play in the destabilization and decline of neighborhoods.

While there is a rich theoretical and empirical literature on communities and crime, up until recently less was known about the effectiveness of community crime-prevention programs. Review after review on this subject—going back to Rosenbaum’s (1988) and Hope’s (1995) classics—have consistently reported that there are no program types with proven effectiveness in preventing crime. Importantly, this was not a claim that nothing works and that community crime prevention should be abandoned (Sherman 1997; Welsh and Hoshi 2006). Some program types were judged to be promising.3

More recent research finds that some community-based programs can make a difference in preventing crime. Jens Ludwig and Julia Burdick-Will report on the effects of the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) program, which gave vouchers to low-socioeconomic status (often, minority) families to enable them to move to better areas. The large-scale experimental test of the program, which involved 4,600 families in five cities across the country, showed that it was particularly effective in reducing violent crime by youths. The authors also discuss another similar poverty-deconcentration experiment in Chicago that was equally effective.

Christopher Sullivan and Darrick Jolliffe review the effectiveness of two well-known community-based crime-prevention modalities: peer influence and mentoring. They find that programs designed to influence peer risk factors for delinquency are somewhat promising, while mentoring, where the evaluation research is more extensive and robust, can be effective in preventing delinquency. In one systematic review and meta-analysis it was found that mentoring was more effective in reducing offending when the average duration of each contact between mentor and mentee was greater, in smaller scale studies, and when mentoring was combined with other interventions.

Important to all forms of crime prevention, but implicit in community prevention, is the element of partnerships among stakeholder agencies and individuals. Dennis Rosenbaum and Amie Schuck review and assess the literature on comprehensive community partnerships in the context of community crime prevention. They (p. 11) offer several key conclusions, including that these partnerships have wide public appeal, can be difficult to implement because of their complexity, and are most effective when there is a commitment to prevention science and evidence-based practice.

The next two essays diverge slightly from our focus on communities and the prevention of crime, but their importance to the field and this volume cannot be overstated. Abigail Fagan and David Hawkins review the evidence of the effectiveness of community-based substance-use prevention initiatives, while Denise Gottfredson, Philip Cook, and Chongmin Na summarize the evidence of the effectiveness of school-based crime-prevention programs. In both cases, the authors report on a number of successful preventive interventions for youths.

IV. Situational Crime Prevention

Situational prevention stands apart from the other crime-prevention strategies by its special focus on the setting or place in which criminal acts take place, as well as its crime-specific focus. No less important is situational prevention’s concern with products (e.g., installation of immobilizers on new cars in some parts of Europe, action taken to eliminate cellphone cloning in the United States) and on large-scale systems such as improvements in the banking system to reduce money laundering (Clarke 2009).

Situational crime prevention has been defined as “a preventive approach that relies, not upon improving society or its institutions, but simply upon reducing opportunities for crime” (Clarke 1992, p. 3). Reducing opportunities for crime is achieved essentially through some modification or manipulation of the physical environment, products, or systems in order to directly affect offenders’ perceptions of increased risks and effort and decreased rewards, provocations, and excuses (Cornish and Clarke 2003). These different approaches serve as the basis of a highly detailed classification system of situational crime prevention, which can further be divided into 25 separate techniques, each with any number of examples of programs (Cornish and Clarke 2003). Part of Martha Smith and Ron Clarke’s essay is devoted to an overview of the current classification scheme, as well as the theoretical and practical developments that led to its present form.

The theoretical origins of situational crime prevention are wide-ranging (see Newman, Clarke, and Shoham 1997; Garland 2000), but it is largely informed by opportunity theory. This theory holds that the offender is “heavily influenced by environmental inducements and opportunities and as being highly adaptable to changes in the situation” (Clarke 1995a, p. 57). Opportunity theory is made up of several more specific theories, including the rational-choice perspective, the routine-activity approach, and crime-pattern theory. According to Smith and Clarke, these three theories have had the greatest influence on the research and practice of situational crime prevention, and they are described in detail in their essay.

(p. 12) Also important to the theoretical basis and the practical utility of situational prevention is the widely held finding that crime is not randomly distributed across a city or community but is, instead, highly concentrated at certain places known as crime “hot spots” (Sherman, Gartin, and Buerger 1989). For example, it is estimated that across the United States, 10 percent of the places are sites for around 60 percent of the crimes (Eck 2006, p. 242). In the same way that individuals can have criminal careers, there are criminal careers for places (Sherman 1995). The essay by Anthony Braga reviews the empirical and theoretical evidence on the concentration of crime at places, times, and among offenders.

Fairly or unfairly, situational crime prevention often raises concerns over the displacement of crime. This is the notion that offenders simply move around the corner or resort to different methods to commit crimes once a crime-prevention project has been introduced.4 Thirty years ago, Thomas Reppetto (1976) identified five different forms of displacement: temporal (change in time), tactical (change in method), target (change in victim), territorial (change in place), and functional (change in type of crime).

What Clarke (1995b) and many others (e.g., Gabor 1990; Hesseling 1995) have found and rightly note is that displacement is never 100 percent. Furthermore, a growing body of research has shown that situational measures may instead result in a diffusion of crime-prevention benefits or the “complete reverse” of displacement (Clarke and Weisburd 1994). Instead of a crime-prevention project displacing crime, the project’s crime-prevention benefits are diffused to the surrounding area, for example. The essay by Shane Johnson, Rob Guerette, and Kate Bowers, which reports on a meta-analysis of displacement and diffusion, provides confirmatory evidence for these general points. They also find that a “diffusion of benefit is at least as likely as crime displacement.”

Like the other crime-prevention strategies, numerous reviews have been carried out over the years to assess the effectiveness of situational crime-prevention programs. By far the most comprehensive reviews have been conducted by John Eck (1997, 2006). They focused on the full range of place-based situational measures implemented in both public and private settings. In keeping with their evidence-based approach, the reviews included only the highest quality evaluations in arriving at conclusions about what works, what does not work, and what is promising. This had the effect of excluding many situational measures with demonstrated preventive effects—including steering-column locks, redesigned credit cards, and exact-change policies (see Clarke 1997). Some of these first-generation situational prevention measures were assessed in weak evaluations that could not convincingly support the assertion that the program produced the reported effect.

John Eck and Rob Guerette’s esssay presents an updated and slightly modified review of place-based crime prevention. They assess the evidence for the effectiveness of various situational measures implemented in five common types of places: residences, outside/public, retail, transportation, and recreation. They find a range of situational measures that are effective in preventing different crimes in each of these settings.

(p. 13) Two other essays review the effectiveness of situational measures applied in other contexts. Paul Ekblom looks at the role of the private sector in designing products that work against crime. A number of successful programs are profiled and critical issues discussed in what the author calls the “arms race” between preventers and offenders. Louise Grove and Graham Farrell review the effectiveness of situational measures designed to prevent repeat victimization of residential and commercial burglary and domestic and sexual violence. The authors find that a number of different measures are effective in preventing repeat victimization, especially of residential and commercial burglary.

V. Advancing Knowledge and Building a Safer Society

The final section of this volume looks at a number of key issues that cut across the three crime-prevention strategies. The first of these concerns implementation. Ross Homel and Peter Homel cover the complexities and challenges of implementing crime-prevention programs, as well as the process of moving from small-scale projects to large-scale dissemination and how to mitigate the attenuation of program effects. As with the science of the effectiveness of crime prevention, the authors call for a science of implementation that conforms with principles of good governance.

The second of these key issues concerns evaluation. An evaluation of a crime-prevention program is considered to be rigorous if it possesses a high degree of internal, construct, and statistical conclusion validity5 (Cook and Campbell 1979; Shadish, Cook, and Campbell 2002). Put another way, we can have a great deal of confidence in the observed effects of an intervention if it has been evaluated using a design that controls for the major threats to these forms of validity. Experimental and quasi-experimental research methods are the types of designs that can best achieve this, and the randomized controlled experiment is the most convincing method of evaluating crime-prevention programs. This is the subject of David Weisburd and Joshua Hinkle’s essay. Among the many benefits of randomized experiments, the authors note that randomization is the only method of assignment that controls for unknown and unmeasured confounders, as well as those that are known and measured. They also note that the randomized experiment is no panacea and may not be feasible in every instance, and in these cases other high-quality evaluation designs should be employed.

The next essay by Doris MacKenzie, on the effectiveness of correctional treatment, represents a departure from our focus on alternative, non–criminal justice approaches to preventing crime. Its inclusion in this volume is meant to be an important reminder of a key policy conclusion in our field: it is never too early and never (p. 14) too late to effectively intervene to reduce criminal offending (Loeber and Farrington 1998, forthcoming). While we maintain that it is far more socially worthwhile and just as well as sustainable to intervene before harm is inflicted on a victim and the offender is under the supervision of the justice system, it is important to recognize that this is not always possible; prevention programs are by no means foolproof.

Public opinion on crime prevention is also important to its future development and practice. Encouragingly, there appears to be a great deal of public support for the kinds of crime prevention covered here. Traditional and economic-based opinion polls consistently show that the public supports government spending on crime prevention rather than on more punitive responses, including building more prisons (Cullen et al. 2007), and that the public is willing to pay more in taxes if people know that the money will be directed toward crime prevention rather than crime control (Cohen, Rust, and Steen 2006; Nagin et al. 2006). These and other important findings are at the center of Julian Roberts and Ross Hastings’s review of international trends in public opinion concerning crime prevention.

In the final essay of the volume we set out our modest proposal for a new crime-prevention policy to help build a safer, more sustainable society. Among its central features are the need to overcome the “short-termism” politics of the day; to ensure that the highest quality scientific research is at center stage in political and policy decisions; and to strike a greater balance between crime prevention and crime control.

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Notes:

(1) . Crime-prevention programs are not designed with the intention of excluding justice personnel. Many types of prevention programs, especially those that focus on adolescents, involve justice personnel such as police or probation officers. In these cases, justice personnel work in close collaboration with those from such areas as education, health care, recreation, and social services.

(2) . Among the most well known classification schemes include those by Brantingham and Faust (1976), van Dijk and de Waard (1991), and Ekblom (1994).

(3) . Promising programs are those where the level of certainty from the available scientific evidence is too low to support generalizable conclusions, but where there is some empirical basis for predicting that further research could support such conclusions (Farrington et al. 2006).

(4) . See Barr and Pease (1990) for a discussion of “benign” or desirable effects of displacement.

(5) . Internal validity refers to how well the study unambiguously demonstrates that an intervention had an effect on an outcome. Construct validity refers to the adequacy of the operational definition and measurement of the theoretical constructs that underlie the intervention and the outcome. Statistical conclusion validity is concerned with whether the presumed cause (the intervention) and the presumed effect (the outcome) are related.