U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Community Crime Prevention - An Analysis of a Developing Strategy

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1981
17 pages
The theoretical foundations of the crime prevention strategies known as community crime prevention are described, and an alternative theoretical framework is offered, with emphasis on its implications for research and policy formulation.
Before the last decade, crime prevention strategies focused on offenders and aimed at changing their motivations and predispositions. In contrast, a recent new approach focuses on changing the behavior of potential victims. This victimization perspective views crimes as events in which offenders and victims participate rather than solely as acts committed by offenders. This perspective also views fear as a result of either direct or indirect experience with the crime event. Individual responses to these events focus on individual protection and tend to lead to deterioration of the community, induce cohesion, and reduce opportunities for crimes. An alternative perspective is the social control perspective, which differs from the victimization perspective both in the independent variables identified as producing fear and in the way the dimensions of crime, fear, responses, and community are conceptualized. This perspective treats crime as an indicator of increased social disorganization which reflects a community's inability to exert social control. Fear is a response induced by signs of social disorganization. Local institutions rather than individuals respond to crime in efforts designed to increase political and social control in the community and to promote social integration among residents. Intervention programs generated by both perspectives seek to strengthen communities, but the social control perspective is more consonant with the perceptions and expectations of community residents. Although further research is needed to test the usefulness of community crime prevention, the innovations based on this approach offer the hope of crime prevention strategies that transcend the social reform failures of the 1960's and the repressive tactics of the 1970's. One figure, two tables, and footnotes are provided. (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1981