effective crime prevention strategy
Even though SCP demonstrates consistent promise from existing research evidence of SCP strategies in preventing crime, there are various challenges associated with the evaluation of the effectiveness of SCP interventions. First, SCP has faced criticism and scrutiny over the years. Scholars such as Clarke and Felson (1993) argue that SCP’s fundamental strategy of reducing opportunities to commit a crime and increasing the risks at a particular time and place cannot entirely prevent or mitigate the offense. Conversely, the actions of increasing the risk and limiting crime opportunities will result in a displacement of offending to other places, times, or crimes, with a little reduction to the crime rates. The displacement can occur in various ways as a result of SCP techniques. For instance, an offender might attempt to commit the crime somewhere else, which is geographical displacement, alter his crime operation style, which is tactical displacement, or change the target of the crime, which is target displacement. Hence, SCP does not serve to prevent crime in totality but gives an offender the chance to explore different alternative opportunities depending on the target, mode of techniques, time, and place. Research conducted by Mayhew et (1976) showed that reducing the risk of theft for new models’ cars that had alarm installation locks in the UK only lead to offenders shifting their preference o older cars that did not have the same alarm systems.
Second, another limitation of SCP concerns its cost. The cost of manipulating the opportunity structure related to SCP is enormous. Research shows that offenders have reported the fear of being caught rather than the fear of the punishment they may receive if found. The research finding has propelled businesses and individuals to invest in technological systems such as CCTVs, electronic window sensors, alarms connected to law enforcement agencies, and security guards’ services. However, these SCP intervention modalities come at a very high cost, which is sometimes too expensive for the regular people in a country.
Third, the limitation of SCP centers around its methodology and evaluation. A randomized classical challenge which enables one to eliminate possible biases through the random assigning interventions to some problems is not possible in SCP. The difficulty in removing biases in SCP is because randomly assigned intervention, which allows for the elimination of biases, appears in a package of several interventions rather than a single intervention technique. As a result, making conclusive statements about the role of any SCP intervention program is a challenge. Also, evaluations for SCP are retrospectively conducted after the implementation of the intervention. Hence the retrospective evaluation of SCP interventions leads to the obstruction of random assignment of situational measures, resulting in the use of quasi-experimental designs in a majority of SCP evaluation.
Last, some intervention modality of SCP has caused uproar and criticism because of the breach they cause to people’s privacy. For instance, intervention modality such as CCTVs has been a subject of debate in non- governmental organizations and Rights groups. People question whether the CCTVs are being used by the government to spy its citizens. There are many lawsuits against the government and organizations that relate to cases of spying and invasion of people’s privacy by using the CCTVs. The allegations have made the public support for CCTV to decline. Thus, many people do not prefer CCTV as an intervention measure for crime prevention. SCP conjures the image of a big brother and social control.
Remedy to overcome SCP Limitations
SCP continues to be a controversial crime prevention development and struggle to gain absolute credibility within the academic criminology. SCP approaches are distinct from conventional methods. The lack of total comprehension of how SCP works has led to different misconceptions about the strategy. Thus, the misunderstanding has made people base their understanding of SCP on its limitations and challenges. Therefore, the first step to overcome the limitation of SCP and maximize its potential to prevent crime is to remove the primary misconception about SCP. Some of the misconceptions people have are that SCP does not work, the strategy diverts attention from the root cause of crime, SCP promotes an exclusionary and selfish society, and SCP promotes privacy invasion and restricts personal freedom. The most effective way to overcome the misconception challenges is to provide research evidence that demonstrates the success of SCP over the years. The public should be educated on the psychological aspects of crime and how SCP can play a role in preventing it. Hence public awareness and education backed with researched evidence is the surest way to overcome the misconception that limits SCP’s potential.
Second, the limitation surrounding the accessibility of the SCP intervention program can be overcome through the reviewal of the costs of purchasing the SCP intervention programs such as CCTV, alarm systems, and security guards’ services. When the government and security contractors review the prices of these technological modalities, many people will be able to afford these SCP intervention programs. Thus, the acceptability of the SCP as a crime prevention strategy will also increase because people will be able to see its benefits first hand.
Third, more research is necessary to develop the SCP intervention programs and publish more and recent evidence that demonstrates the success of SCP. The vision of the national crime investigative agencies and the criminology scholars should expand to include SCP approaches and initiatives in crime prevention. Also, governments and law enforcement agencies should rely on SCP research-based evidence when implementing crime prevention strategies. The incorporation of SCP based evidence will limit overcome the general misconception and lead to the adaption of SCP as an effective crime prevention strategy.
Last, the limitation of SCP can be overcome if the government builds the community capacity necessary to handle and enhance SCP. SCP strategies require infrastructural redesign to enable the intervention modality to work appropriately. For instance, the installation of CCTVs requires that obstacles such as pillars and trees be eliminated for the CCTVs to capture a clear view. Also, adequate training is necessary to allow for the CCTV management and maintenance. Hence, there will be less resistance to SCP strategies when there is a well-established SCP environment, and the community has adequate technological know-how.
The rational choice theory influences the fundamental concept of situational crime prevention. SCP strategies primarily focus on the alteration of the situation rather than an offender’s disposition. Also, SCP functions to increase the risk of committing a crime and discourage the offender from engaging in the act. SCP has various intervention models, such as the use of CCTVs, improved street lightings, neighborhood watch, security guard services, alarm system installation, and sensitive window panels. Many research evidence publications demonstrate the effectiveness of SCP published with various scholars such as Farrington, Bennet, and Welsh (2008) and other academic criminologists. Even though SCP has different limitations such as the displacement of crime, misconceptions from the public, mistrust due to security concerns, and affordability of its intervention modality, many measures are being taken to overcome these challenges. The government and other law enforcement agencies continue to make the community SCP accommodative and train people on the efficient use of the SCP programs. Conversely, research is being conducted to make SCP more effective and establish its significance in national crime prevention agencies as the ideal prevention strategy. Therefore, SCP is an effective crime prevention strategy that displays a few challenges but with an opportunity to achieve perfection.