Reducing Criminal Opportunities Through Environmental Manipulation
This chapter is concerned with environmental criminology What is environmental criminology? ◦ Assumes there is little that can be done to change criminals ◦ Focus is on what can be done about crime ◦ Includes situational crime prevention ◦ Concerned with how settings translate criminal inclinations into action ◦ Includes Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
What is the rational offender perspective? ◦ It is basically deterrence theory ◦ Assumes offenders weigh costs/benefits of violating the law What is the link to environmental criminology? ◦ Environmental features may affect the cost/benefit decision process Routine activities theory ◦ Motivated offenders Handlers and place managers may discourage offenders from crime ◦ Suitable targets Target for environmental manipulation ◦ Absence of guardians Need more cops, security guards, etc.
Crime pattern theory is concerned with the places frequented by criminals Key concepts ◦ Behavior space Locations offenders frequent ◦ Awareness space Areas with which offenders are familiar ◦ The interaction between behavior space and awareness space
Territorial functioning/defensible space perspective is concerned with the attachment people have to the areas around them ◦ Territorial cognition Defensible space ◦ How physical characteristics of spaces affect behavior, criminal and noncriminal
Incivilities thesis ◦ Low-level offenses/breaches of community standards that Increase fear Send a signal that an area is out of control Lead to an increase in serious crime What is the link to environmental manipulation? ◦ Minimize potential for incivilities and crime may decline
Four methods of reducing criminal opportunity through environmental manipulation have been identified ◦ Access control ◦ Surveillance ◦ Activity support ◦ Motivation reinforcement
Most common method of discouraging crime at residences is target hardening Does it work? ◦ Research from the U.K. suggests it does, but little research has been conducted in U.S. Another approach is property marking, but there is little research suggesting this approach works
Much more researchers’ attention has been drawn to areas surrounding residences Methods ◦ Restrict pedestrian access ◦ Closed-circuit television (CCTV) Which method works best? ◦ Several studies show restriction of pedestrian access is effective, but there is little research on CCTV
Several environmental manipulations have been combined Examples ◦ Combine apartment watch, target hardening, property marking, lighting improvements, etc. ◦ Removal of coin-operated meters with cocoon neighborhood watch ◦ Graduated surveillance ◦ Civil nuisance abatement combined with other approaches Do comprehensive approaches work? ◦ The evidence is more supportive of this method than isolated approaches
Types of gated communities ◦ Fee-based ◦ No fee Reasons for living in gated communities ◦ Safety ◦ Strong HOA ◦ Family ◦ Recreation Real Benefits? ◦ Understudied (people feel safer; not clear about crime differences) Downside? ◦ Siege mentality
With respect to convenience stores, researchers have looked at ◦ Two clerks instead of one ◦ Security cameras ◦ Silent alarms ◦ Security systems (for after hours) ◦ Barricades (for after hours) What works? ◦ Very little research in this area Other crime concerns ◦ Shoplifting EAS and ink tags—effective ◦ Employee theft Increased inventorying—effective
Several environmental manipulations have been implemented at banks, including ◦ CCTV ◦ Security guards inside/outside the bank ◦ Protective screens/bulletproof glass ◦ Time-lock safes Much research shows these approaches are effective, but the research designs were weak
What works at bars? ◦ Better management How is it accomplished? ◦ Training for bouncers ◦ Crowd control ◦ Improved relationships with the police ◦ Code of practice ◦ Don’t serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated people
Types of crimes of concern on public transit include ◦ Vandalism ◦ Robberies and assaults of passengers/drivers ◦ Fare evasion Varieties of environmental manipulations ◦ Graffiti cleanup ◦ Added law enforcement ◦ CCTV ◦ Publicity ◦ Exact fare systems on buses ◦ Redesigned ticket machines to prevent fare evasion ◦ Redesigned toll gates Does it work? ◦ Evidence is encouraging
Pre 9/11 interventions ◦ Air marshals ◦ Improvements to doors on planes ◦ Baggage screening ◦ Extradition treaties ◦ Metal detectors Do these methods work? ◦ Some evaluations say yes ◦ 9/11 says no
Methods of dealing with crime at parking garages include ◦ Addition of guards ◦ Addition of security attendants ◦ CCTV ◦ Access and exit control ◦ Various combinations of each Which method works best? ◦ It appears that guards and security attendants work better than CCTV ◦ Access/exit control underresearched Question? ◦ Do the benefits of environmental manipulation outweigh the costs?
Environmental manipulations in open spaces include ◦ Lighting ◦ Street closures/traffic restrictions ◦ CCTV What works? ◦ Lighting in open spaces appears effective, but it is not clear whether this extends to private areas ◦ Street closures with added law enforcement appear effective ◦ Red light cameras (a twist on CCTV) certainly work!
Criminals sometimes target parking meters and public phones ◦ For profit ◦ To avoid paying Effective methods of targeting public phones include ◦ Design improvements ◦ Electronic monitoring of phone booths ◦ Hardened coin boxes ◦ Rapid repair of broken phones ◦ Efforts to prevent fraud Effective methods of targeting parking meters include ◦ Installing slug-proof meters
Finally, some good news! Environmental manipulations appear much more effective, on the whole, at reducing crime compared to criminal justice system expansion
Reducing criminal opportunities through environmental manipulation.