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Data-Driven Crime Prevention: New Tools for Community Involvement and Crime Control

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2013
11 pages
This essay first discusses previous research and the authors' own research on collective efficacy in Miami-Dade County, FL, followed by a proposed strategy for data-driven crime prevention.
Over the years, research has shown that neighborhoods with higher "collective efficacy" (the degree to which neighbors trust one another to act according to shared values) and "social cohesion" (emotional and social investment in the neighborhood) experience less crime. Based on these research findings, this essay recommends the design and implementation of crime prevention programs that focus on building collective efficacy and social cohesion in neighborhoods. This is reflected in the concepts of community policing and community-based crime prevention. This means that data on these features of neighborhoods must be collected through resident surveys, systematic social observations, and environmental design assessments. Such a study will identify both problems and strengths in the way residents interact with one another and act to preserve and/or improve the neighborhood's quality of life. Data collection and analysis should be followed by the targeting of specific problems with interventions that involve residents interacting with and working together to upgrade the neighborhood's quality of life. This should involve organizing the community for specific projects that improve the neighborhood environment and safety of residents. Efforts should also include the restoration of "anchor points," which are places and facilities frequented by neighborhood residents and promote the development of social interaction. In addition, these activities and social interactions designed to improve collective efficacy and social cohesion should be continually assessed with evaluations that determine their effects on various measures of neighborhood quality of life. 11 references

Date Published: November 1, 2013