Why are opportunity reduction-based approaches to crime prevention attractive to policy-makers and what are the main problems associated with their theoretical bases and practical implication?
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Why are opportunity reduction-based approaches to crime prevention attractive to policy-makers and what are the main problems associated with their theoretical bases and practical implication? First this essay will explain what is meant by opportunity reduction based approaches (ORBA). It will give reasons why these approaches are attractive to policy makers and link this to a broader political context. The theoretical base will be examined in relation to social construction and also pointing out what crimes this approach doesn't address. The practical implication of ORBA are analysed such as the problem of displacement and the inequality this highlights. Then finally the uses, abuses and human rights issues regarding certain aspects of the technology associated with this method of crime prevention. ORBA are part of situational crime prevention which manipulates the environment as a method of trying to prevent crime. Situational research is divided into two measures, (1) increasing the chances of being caught and (2) reducing physical opportunities for crime (Clarke 1980). It is the latter that this essay is primarily concerned with, although the two measures do overlap. For example, installing closed-circuit television (CCTV) will reduce the opportunity for crime and increased the likely hood of being caught. Cohen and Felson (1979)
He suggests the reason for this is because it is easier to provide a leaflet with the advice to avoid certain areas, or check the back seats of cars than it is of advising women about 'trustworthy men. Bright (1991) comments that 'while situational crime prevention, theoretically, can reduce the estimated 70% of recorded crime thought to be opportunistic, it is unable to prevent many violent crimes such as some categories of assault, domestic violence, child abuse and racially motivated crime' (quoted in Walklate p316). Of course this also links back to again to why ORBA are attractive to policy makers as it is easier to provide legislation for public areas and also public crime is visible and it makes more political sense to tackle crime which the public can see. This means that opportunity reduction based approaches are theoretically and practically limited to attempting to prevent crime in the public domain. In the practical application of ORBA's there is the issue of displacement to consider. Displacement is based on the concern that if a criminal is prevented from committing a criminal offence in one place, he simply moves on to another. In other words there is a concern that the problem hasn't really gone away.
To summarise, this essay explained ORBA as a method of crime prevention which is attractive to policy makers because it was simple and could be targeted at certain public area's, it also put the responsibility of crime prevention onto government agencies but mostly on to the victims who invited criminals by inadequate security. Currie (1991) argues that the market society actually perpetuates crime and Young points to capitalism as the expression of upper class fear. ORBA focus of crime is on the public area, this mean it misses crime in the private sphere. The practical application of ORBA brings the unfinished, and possibly unanswerable, issue of displacement and the inequality that this highlights. Finally the issue of advancing technology brings with it the issues of human rights and abuses for which the debates can't keep up, despite this there are positives to these technologies. In conclusion, I think ORBA are a good idea primarily because they do give people a sense of security which allows people to go about their daily lives in the public domain. Although until these defenses are available to everyone and the debate surrounding them has caught up to the technologies, then they remain the property of those can afford them and are also open to abuse. There is also the worry that crime measures will go too far and then we find ourselves in a Big Brother house scenario with every move we make scrutinized.
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