This is the fifth in a series of textbooks – all of whose titles begin with the word Understanding – which cover important areas of debate within the fields of criminology, criminal justice and penology. The aim of the series is to provide relatively short and accessible texts, written by experienced lecturers and researchers, which will give undergraduates or postgraduates a solid grounding in the relevant area and, hopefully, a taste for the subject which will lead them to explore the literature further. Although aimed primarily at students new to the field, and although written as far as possible in plain language, the books do not give the false impression that they are dealing with a simple subject, easily mastered. On the contrary, all the authors aim to 'stretch' readers and to encourage them to approach criminological knowledge and theory in a critical and questioning frame of mind. Moreover, they do not simply summarize the relevant literature, but where appropriate express their own views and explain how and why they differ with other authors.
Gordon Hughes deals with a subject which has come more and more to the fore in criminological writing over recent years – that of crime prevention. Strictly speaking, of course, this covers a huge variety of strategies – from imprisoning or 'rehabilitating' offenders to installing locks on property – many of which have a very long history. Indeed, the first three chapters provide a useful overview of historical shifts in how crime prevention has been perceived and practised. However, the main focus of the book is upon relatively new approaches to crime prevention and on the reasons for their emergence and rapid spread in many different countries. In Britain, since the early 1980s, terms like 'situational crime prevention', 'neighbourhood watch', 'multi-agency partnership' and 'community safety' have become buzzwords in many government departments, local authority areas and voluntary agencies. There has also been a massive expansion in the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems in town centre streets and even residential areas. In the United States, and increasingly elsewhere, privatization of the control of