From property and violent crimes to white collar offenses and identity theft, criminal acts take on many different forms. While types of crimes and incidents fluctuate by location and time of year, statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirm that crime prevention initiatives are making huge strides in reducing or stopping criminals. In the latest Crime in the U.S. report, the FBI discloses that violent and property crimes declined in the United States. Much of the credit for the decrease goes to crime prevention efforts, including federal, state and community programs. In many municipalities, crime prevention is a shared responsibility between the police and the community. This partnership allows the creation of specific approaches to address crimes unique to a particular area or community.
What Is Crime Prevention
Crime prevention focuses on two distinct, yet overlapping goals: reducing crime and preventing crime. Crime reduction aims to minimize criminal activities committed by individuals or groups, and reduce criminal offenses in areas known for unlawful activity. Crime prevention, on the other hand, centers on efforts that ensure that law-abiding citizens do not get involved in criminal activity. Crime prevention also works to keep crime out of areas that have not experienced much criminal activity. Both crime reduction and crime prevention require strategies that address an existing problem or focus on preventing situations that could promote criminal activity. These strategies often overlap in their overall goals of reducing an existing crime problem and preventing future ones. For example, a neighborhood watch and community policing are types of crime reduction and crime prevention programs.
Types of Crime Prevention
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, crime prevention efforts can be community based; situation specific, such as gang programs; or environmental design strategies, such as adding security cameras or enhanced lighting on buildings. Crime prevention strategies are often developed between law enforcement and the community or businesses. The pro-active approach encompasses self defense techniques, public awareness initiatives and preventive measures. Crime prevention efforts typically focus on stopping these types of crimes from occurring:
* Property Crimes – Crime prevention measures typically concentrate on home security, safety, and measures to prevent vandalism and burglaries.
* Identity Theft Protection – Personal and law enforcement crime prevention efforts are designed to deter identity theft by focusing on securing personal and sensitive information, both online and offline.
* Community Crimes – Crime prevention efforts are designed to stop criminal acts during everyday living activities, such as walking around town, traveling, driving a car, using an ATM, and out at night.
* Workplace Crimes – Depending on the workplace, crime prevention initiatives aim to prevent workplace violence, employee and customer thefts, credit card fraud, shoplifting, robberies, burglaries and computer security.
* Cyberspace Criminal Activity – Crime prevention efforts focus on Internet safety by addressing such issues as cyberbullying, fraud, online security, spyware and viruses.
The main goal for all these types of crimes is to put in place measures that remove any opportunities that attract a criminal or put individuals or their property at risk.
The Benefits of Crime Prevention
When a crime is committed, the cost to a community is enormous. Besides the financial burden, it takes a great deal of resources to treat victims, catch the offender, process the criminal through the system and manage the offender in prison or rehabilitation. On the other hand, when residents, businesses and law enforcement officials work together to implement crime prevention measures, government statistics show that the return on these efforts are safer communities and significant cost savings. Research also shows that the benefits realized from crime prevention programs far exceed the costs to implement them.
In addition to community benefits, individuals who implement personal crime prevention measures also experience a safer home and lifestyle. For example, people who install a security system in their home or enroll in an identity theft protection service reduce their risk of becoming a victim of crime.
Successful crime prevention, research shows, is all about reducing the risk and the opportunity for criminals to strike. Throughout this site is further information about crime prevention and the many ways it can stop criminals in their tracks. By being informed, individuals can take steps to prevent a crime from happening to them in their lifetime.