This module is a resource for lecturers  




Crime prevention is a broad topic that encompasses many programmes and initiatives. A great diversity of crimes can be the target of crime prevention and different approaches to crime prevention target different factors contributing to crime. Consequently, a diversity of actors will frequently be engaged in efforts to prevent crime. This includes national crime prevention bodies, crime prevention initiatives at the regional level, and work conducted by international agencies such as the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It is important to recognize that government, non-government, civil society, voluntary, activist, private sector and individual citizens can, and do, play a key role in crime prevention activities.

Preventing crime produces many positive outcomes. The prevention or non-occurrence of future incidents of crime reduces the human costs to victims of crime. Lives can be saved, physical harm can be prevented, and financial loss can be minimized. For these reasons, crime prevention holds great appeal for many governments and civil society groups, and crime prevention is often recognized as an important area of policy and practice.

However, crime prevention is not without problems. Governments and private entities can, in the name of crime prevention, seek to control and monitor citizens; crime prevention can become a commodity and be sold to those who can afford it, leaving those with fewer resources in an even more insecure position. Efforts to prevent crime can stigmatize people and communities; and victims can be (erroneously) blamed for contributing to their own victimization. It is important, therefore, that all crime prevention efforts also include an analysis of the potential for negative or unintended consequences.

It is also necessary to acknowledge that there are significant legal, cultural and political differences across regional and local contexts that influence how crime prevention is considered and practiced. The term 'crime prevention' is used differently, if at all, in various regions of the world. Furthermore, the body of knowledge about crime prevention often comes from a small number of countries and regions, which is highly problematic, as certain approaches might work well in one context but have negative impacts in another. Consequently, it is important that lecturers modify the materials provided in this Module to ensure that these are relevant to the local context. The Module lists regional crime prevention entities from around the world to assist lecturers in the process of adapting materials to reflect the crime prevention challenges and opportunities in regional and local contexts.


Learning outcomes

  • Understand the definition of crime prevention used by the United Nations.
  • Distinguish between key terms used in crime prevention and community safety contexts.
  • Describe different crime prevention typologies.
  • Apply different crime problem-solving approaches to common crime problems.
  • Critically analyse 'what works' in crime prevention (including what constitutes evidence and the transferability of this evidence) and identify relevant clearinghouses of such information.
Next: Key issues
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