What Is Situational Crime Prevention?

And how can this technique be used to protect your home.


September 11, 2020

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Situational crime prevention (SCP), which represents a change in thinking, has helped police organizations realize more success when it comes to crime reduction, crime control, reducing victimization, and fear. The main goal of most police agencies is prevention. Therefore, it is essential that police organizations have a thorough understanding of what that entails. In the past, police organizations recommended that citizens lock up and protect their property or risk losing it to thieves and other criminals. They offered advice about window bars and door locks.

What Is Situational Crime Prevention?

In the 1980s, Ronald V. Clarke offered a new control and crime prevention strategy to law enforcement academics and practitioners. SCP is different from most criminological theories in that it focuses not on the detection of offenders, but on the instances of crime. SCP focuses on reducing the incidence of crime by increasing the risks for offenders, thus, reducing the opportunities for crime.

How Was Situational Crime Conceived?

Undoubtedly, crime prevention is an idea that is as old as time. However, most theories prior to situational crime prevention did not focus crime prevention efforts on specific places. Situational prevention refers to measures that are intended to reduce very specific types of crime. These measures involve environmental  strategies to increase risk and reduce crime opportunities.

Some examples of situational prevention in effect include installing surveillance equipment in areas that experience a lot of vandalism. Another example includes installing security screens in banks to prevent robberies.

What Does Situational Crime Prevention Look Like?

Some of the criminological theories that situational crime prevention draws upon include the following:

  • Rational choice theory – Rational individuals commit crime. These individuals consider both the benefits and the risks.

  • Routine activity theory – A crime is only possible if the potential offender and the target or victim are together in the space and at the space time. Potential guardians must also be absent at the time of the crime. Some examples of potential guardians include street vendors, security guards, and passerby.

  • Lifestyle theory – A person’s lifestyle increases their risk of victimization. Leisure activities and work environments may expose individuals to criminals.

As you can probably see, the way SCP differs from many other crime prevention theories is that it focuses on the offender doing the crime. SCP attempts to improve society and institutions to eliminate crime. It also attempts to make it less attractive for offenders to make criminal action. Environmental criminology is an approach that came from SCP. This approach focuses on the environment and making said environment less conductive to criminal activity. SCP relies on the rational choice theory, which states that individuals who commit crimes are rational. If a criminal notices that an environment is not conductive to crime, they will likely decide the risks are greater than the benefit and not target that environment.

Undoubtedly, police organizations and homeowners have a lot to gain by continuing to implement situational crime prevention, particularly when it comes to home security systems. For more information about situational crime prevention and home security systems, don’t hesitate to contact us at  Brinks Home™ to get a free quote.

Krista Bruton is a DFW-based writer who covers smart home security and consumer protection.

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