Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Situational Crime Prevention as a Key Component in Embedded Crime Prevention

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Situational Crime Prevention as a Key Component in Embedded Crime Prevention

Article excerpt

Cet article traite de la prevention des situations criminogenes, une demarche en pleine evolution. Les auteurs proposent que l'on etudie dans une perspective situationnelle les approches dernierement utilisees au Canada en matiere de prevention du crime. Ils explorent egalement comment la description articulee de la prevention des situations criminogenes peut etre utilisee pour trouver des moyens de mesurer l'impact de programmes de prevention du crime donnes et pour integrer la prevention du crime dans la gouvernance generale.


Canada has a well-established tradition in crime prevention at the provincial, territorial, and national levels. During the last 20 years it has been a relatively straightforward task to divide Canadian crime prevention into four categories: legal prevention; social prevention; social development programs; and situational prevention (Brantingham 1986, 1989; Brantingham and Brantingham 1988, 1990). Over that period of time, our understanding of crime has improved in its grasp of the complexities of criminal events, separating out immediate situations from the underlying social and physical fabrics that influence crime and victimization over differing periods of time (Brantingham and Brantingham 1993, 2001). Canada's social and cultural diversity creates the need to think of crime prevention as a complex phenomenon but, at the same time, to use a conceptual framework that makes it feasible for researchers and practitioners to compare and contrast specific programs. This article provides information about the evolving field of situational crime prevention and proposes that the situational perspective be used to understand recent crime prevention approaches in Canada. The article also explores how the articulated description of situational crime prevention can be used in developing ways to measure the impact of specific crime prevention programs and in finding ways to embed the crime prevention process into general governance.

We have separated crime prevention approaches into legal, social, community, and situation categories in the past (Brantingham and Brantingham 1990) and described in more detail crime prevention approaches that use architecture and urban planning as place improvement processes that reduce crime by reducing the crime attractiveness of areas and by reducing crime generators (Brantingham and Brantingham 1995, 1997). These earlier articles on crime prevention programs have emphasized situational design approaches to reducing crime. This has involved trying to describe to criminologists how urban planners, health planners, and urban designers work towards reducing crime potential, nuisance behaviour, and fear in public and private spaces (Barclay, Buckley, Brantingham, Brantingham, and Whin-Yates 1996; Brantingham and Brantingham 1988, 1998; Rondeau, Brantingham, and Brantingham in press).

From the theoretical perspective of our Crime Pattern Theory (Brantingham and Brantingham 1993), we have always taken the position that crime is a complex phenomenon with a complex aetiology. We suggest that, with an increased awareness of the complexity and diversity of Canadian life, those interested in crime prevention begin to look at crime in its complexity and orient their view of crime prevention to reflect this complexity. Much traditional crime prevention, of course, has focused on offenders, to the exclusion of the other elements of criminal events in their full complexity. Many of these efforts have taken the position that crime can be understood in simple terms and addressed from some single programmatic perspective. The results of this approach have often been disappointing and have rendered promising programs vulnerable in competition for continued funding from governments over time (see, e.g., Moynihan 1969; Poyner 1993; Sherman, Gottfredson, MacKenzie, Eck, Reuter, and Bushway 1998).

In adopting an appreciation of the complexity of criminal events, crimes can be seen as products of a filtering process that channels some people to sites and situations amenable to criminal behaviour. …

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