Tools and powers for tackling criminal damage

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					                   Criminal Damage & Repeat
                                                                   Crime type: The same target is victimised by different
This is one in a series of guides designed to share ideas for      types of crime. For example, a tenant who has suffered
tackling vandalism and other forms of criminal damage. They        incidents of criminal damage, burglary and theft.
are based, as far as possible, on examples we have found
                                                                   Offender: The same target is victimised by different
from around the UK and further afield. Although in most cases
                                                                   offenders. For example, a local business is victimised by
these have not been rigorously evaluated, they have been
                                                                   a gang. Different members of the gang have thrown bricks
reported to have been successful in tackling this sort of crime.
                                                                   through the window and scrawled graffiti on the property.
Other guides already produced in this series cover:
   tackling vandalism and other criminal damage;                  CRIMINAL DAMAGE AND REPEAT VICTIMISATION
   tools and powers for tackling criminal damage;
                                                                   British Crime Survey interviews (2006/07) show that the
   environmental approaches;
                                                                   level of repeat victimisation for vandalism are among the
   young people and vandalism;                                    highest for any offence type. Of those who had been
   high visibility “policing”;                                    victimised 32% of households suffered a repeat
   tackling arson;                                                incident within 12 months and 14% experienced
   tackling damage to vehicles;                                   vandalism three or more timesii. Rates of repeat
   problem analysis; and
                                                                   victimisation for criminal damage are much higher than
                                                                   burglary (13%).
   environmental clean up days
                                                                   It is not only households that suffer repeat victimisation;
These guides are intended to be living documents that can be
                                                                   businesses, transport companies and local authorities are
up-dated as necessary so if you have any comments on these
                                                                   victims too. The Commercial Victimisation Survey (2002)
guides or if there are any other subjects you would like covered
                                                                   found that of those who had been victimised, 20% of
please send your suggestions to us via your regional
                                                                   retailers had experienced six or more incidents of
Government Office or the Welsh Assembly Government.
                                                                   vandalism, accounting for 72% of all incidents. For
                                                                   manufacturers 14% had experienced vandalism six or
WHAT IS REPEAT VICTIMISATION?                                      more times, accounting for 56% of all incidentsiii.
Repeat victimisation is when the same person or place suffers
more than one criminal incident within a given time period.
                                                                   WHY TACKLE REPEAT VICTIMISATION?
Farrell‟s typology of repeat victimisation is a useful way of
understanding the different forms this can takei:                  Repeat victimisation has an emotional impact on victims.
                                                                   Any one incident of criminal damage is upsetting for the
Target: A crime against the same target. For example, a
                                                                   victim, further incidents can be debilitating and have the
householder‟s garden fence is repeatedly damaged.
                                                                   potential to escalate to more serious incidents.
Tactical: A crime requiring the same skill or modus operandi.
                                                                   Repeat victimisation of places damages infrastructure,
For example, incidents of graffiti using the same tag and
                                                                   degrades the local environment, undermining pride in the
                                                                   local community and increasing fear of crime.
Temporal: An offending spree in the same time period. For
                                                                   Victimisation tends to recur so it is a good predictor of
example, several incidents of damage to public property
                                                                   later crime. In addition, rates of repeat victimisation are
following pub closing time.
                                                                   disproportionately higher in high crime areas. Focusing on
Spatial: A crime committed in the same area. For example, a        repeat victimisation takes resources to high crime
street where the tyres of parked cars are regularly slashed.       areas.

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One incident of criminal damage may result in a number of             TACTICS TO PREVENT FURTHER VICTIMISATION
recorded crimes. A focus on repeat victimisation can enhance
                                                                      A number of approaches to prevent further victimisation
detection rates.
                                                                      are suggested below.
Evidence suggests that while some criminal damage is
spontaneous, some is not „mindless‟ or „random‟ and focussing
on this may be an effective way to achieve reductions.                VICTIMS
                                                                      A focus on victims (people and organisations) will help to
Although levels of criminal damage have fallen in the past ten        address crime type and offender repeat victimisation.
years, rates of repeat victimisation have remained relatively
stable. Targeting repeat victimisation will reduce levels of          Preventing repeat victimisation requires a quick response
criminal damage overall.                                              and therefore initial support to victims needs to be
                                                                      provided by people at the front line such as Police and
                                                                      Police Community Support Officers, Neighbourhood
STRATEGIES TO PREVENT FURTHER VICTIMISATION                           Wardens, and Housing Officers.
There is a heightened risk period of further victimisation
following the first incident. Any strategy to address repeat           Wakefield Metropolitan and District Council has a
victimisation needs to take this into account. For criminal            dedicated reporting line for all incidents of Anti-Social
damage, problems can shift ground quite quickly and may                Behaviour. A leaflet advertising „It‟s Your Call‟ was
seem temporary in nature. Planning a combination of short and          distributed to all households and business in the district.
long term tactics which can be mobilised quickly is likely to be
most effective.
                                                                       Safer Hart Community Safety Partnership is running a
Evaluation research suggests that preventing repeat                    poster and postcard campaign encouraging repeat
victimisation requires the following:                                  victims to report incidents so appropriate help and advice
A strong preventative mechanism                                        can be provided.
Prevention tactics need to be tailored to the context and target.
Refer to Farrell‟s typology of repeat victimisation to identify the   Talking to victims of criminal damage can provide
most appropriate tactics. Draw on the skills and expertise of         enhanced intelligence. Neighbourhood Policing builds
different agencies when developing tactics.                           strong relationships with communities and this may
Multiple tactics                                                      encourage reporting and improve intelligence. In addition
                                                                      to the police, a range of agencies have contact with
Using a range of tactics simultaneously is thought to be more         victims through their normal work (local authorities,
effective than tactics employed in isolation. The problem may         housing associations, Anti Social Behaviour Coordinators,
be best addressed by focusing on the victim, offender, location       Victim Support, neighbourhood wardens and schools).
or a combination of all three approaches. Consider whether the        However, if the victim does not wish to report a crime, it is
tactics complement each other.                                        important that these agencies capture incidents in a way
Strong implementation                                                 that can be shared.

This requires a collective effort from a range of agencies and a       In Rochdale victims are referred to a target hardening
commitment to tackle the problem at all levels. Some efforts           scheme by Victim Support. Victims are referred to the
have failed because the preventative mechanism was not                 scheme even if they do not they wish to report a crime.*
introduced or was poorly delivered. Nominate a lead agency to
coordinate work and maintain focus. Keep revisiting tactics to
see if they are working or need to be improved.                       Protocols for reducing repeat victimisation of burglary and
                                                                      domestic violence have had some success. In addition,
Focus on where repeat rates are highest                               criminal justice agencies are required to follow a code of
Information from a range of sources will help to produce a            practice for victims of crime. These set minimum
more comprehensive analysis. Identifying where repeat rates           standards of service from the Criminal Justice System.
are highest and an understanding of the characteristics of
repeat victimisation will inform prevention tactics.                  Local protocols for preventing repeat victimisation could
                                                                      build on this work. This would ensure a coordinated
                                                                      approach between front line agencies and other relevant
                                                                      agencies such as victim support, mediation services and
                                                                      neighbourhood watch.

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A protocol could include guidance on:                               information on their modus operandi and choice of target.
                                                                    This intelligence could inform the problem solving
o    what information needs to be collected from victims on the     process.
     nature of the damage to inform the investigation and
     provide relevant support to the victim;
o    providing advice on security and practical preventative        A Community Safety Partnership in West Yorkshire
     measures (e.g. park car in different street, security grills   looked at criminal damage suspects in their area and
     on doors and windows, immediate response services);            found that the majority of suspects have also been linked
o    supporting victims of criminal damage (e.g. through use of     with offences of other types, many of these were violent
     professional witnesses); and                                   crimes.
o    signposting victims to services available at other relevant
     agencies.                                                      There are many examples of schemes which identify the
                                                                    tags of illegal graffiti writers to catch offenders. Further
The implementation of any protocol will benefit from a coherent     investigation of similar forms of criminal damage within a
training programme which addresses the needs of different           given time or location can yield results.
roles within each agency and draws on one another‟s skills and
expertise.                                                          The London Borough of Southwark is running a „Stop
                                                                    Them and Shop Them' campaign in tagging hotspot
The Safer Middlesbrough Partnership ensures police and,             areas, offering a reward for any information that leads to
where appropriate, housing officers visit houses where there        the prosecution of persistent „taggers'. Since the
have been repeat incidents of criminal damage. Referrals to         campaign started in 2004 Southwark Council has seen a
support agencies and crime prevention advice are provided           35% decrease in reported graffiti in the borough.
during the visit. These visits have identified other crimes; one
tenant had suffered incidents of criminal damage, theft and
burglary over a period of three weeks.
                                                                    Where the victim and perpetrator are known to one
                                                                    another, a number of actions in relation to offenders might
                                                                    be built into a protocol on repeat victimisation:
Dyfed-Powys Police operate a Bobby Van Scheme.
Following a burglary or criminal damage a police offer refers
the victim to the scheme co-ordinator. A Bobby Van (crime           o    Addressing the security needs of victims and
prevention carpenter) attends the property as soon as                    concerns about reprisals may help encourage victims
possible to provide reassurance, assess the damage caused                to identify perpetrators to the police where it is
and immediately carry out repairs to make the home secure.               known.
                                                                    o    Where it is believed that the offender has been
The scheme initially focused on people over 60 years, but
                                                                         identified but there is not sufficient evidence, a visit
now helps victims of repeat burglary, victims of domestic
                                                                         by a police officer may help to deter them from further
violence and those who are disabled or disadvantaged. Since
the scheme was launched in 1999 over 10,000 homes have
                                                                    o    If the perpetrator and victim are housing association
benefited from the services of the Bobby Van.
                                                                         tenants, letters to the perpetrator advising that they
                                                                         are in breach of tenancy agreements may help.
                                                                    o    Mediation between victims and offenders can be
                                                                         appropriate and is likely to be most successful when
Focusing on offenders will help to address the crime type and            there is an ongoing relationship between them (e.g.
tactical forms of repeat victimisation.                                  neighbours). It can be used either when there is
                                                                         insufficient evidence for detection or as a form of
Information about repeat offenders may help to understand the
                                                                         restorative justice.
nature of repeat victimisation. The police, Youth Offending
                                                                    o    Involving youth services and Youth Offending Teams
Teams and those operating the Prolific and other Priority
                                                                         in developing the protocol will help ensure their work
Offenders Scheme may be able to provide further information.
                                                                         dovetails with any work done with victims.
Those committing criminal damage may be involved with other
offences. Police intelligence interviews with known offenders
may shed light on other incidents, help identify why they
repeatedly commit criminal damage and could provide

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Hounslow Homes employs professional witnesses to gather          In Newham, a Crime Tracking Database and Analysis
evidence against perpetrators of anti-social behaviour. The      System receives data from the police and partner agencies.
professional witnesses also help identify unknown                It is designed to improve the ability to sort, link and analyse
perpetrators so that tenancy enforcement measures can be         data. The system has the approval of the Police Foundation*.
applied where necessary.

LOCATION                                                          The results of problem analysis will inform appropriate
                                                                  interventions but might include high visibility policing,
A focus on location will help address target, spatial and
                                                                  installing CCTV or work with licensed premises on alcohol
temporal repeat victimisation.
                                                                  related incidents. The other guides in this series provide
Problem analysis will help to identify repeat victimisation by    further information on specific interventions.
location. Reporting rates for criminal damage tend to be quite
low, so for a comprehensive analysis, police data should be
                                                                 In North East Lincolnshire, an analysis of data identified
supplemented with data from other agencies who should be
                                                                 repeat victimisation of dwellings and other buildings. It
encouraged to record all incidents. Data needs to be recorded
                                                                 noted that a significant proportion of repeat offences
and analysed in a flexible way to accommodate the different
                                                                 occurred within a few days of the previous offence. All
forms of repeat victimisation. In particular, allowing for
                                                                 repeats are allocated to the Safer Neighbourhood Officer
victimisation by different crime type. The Problem Analysis
                                                                 with responsibility for that area to look for opportunities to
guide provides further information on this.
                                                                 problem solve towards a permanent solution.
In addition to collecting information for problem analysis,
establishing a system for sharing details of incidents between
agencies as and when they occur will enable a speedy
response and help prevent repeat occurrences.
                                                                  NEED MORE HELP?
In Great Yarmouth, the Criminal Damage Coordinator                Further information and assistance on tackling repeat
produces a weekly newsletter with details of criminal damage      victimisation and criminal damage is also available via
incidents in the area. The newsletter describes each incident     your regional Government Office / Welsh Assembly
(date, time, location and details of the offence) and includes    Government or from:
requests for further information on the location, possible        i)   Crime Reduction website
offenders and links with other incidents. It highlights new            (
locations as well as repeat locations and repeat victims. The
newsletter is sent to all agencies working to tackle criminal     ii) Crime Reduction toolkit on repeat victimisation
damage in Great Yarmouth.                                              (

    Farrell (2005): Progress and Prospects in the Prevention of Repeat Victimisation, in: Handbook of Crime Prevention
and Community Safety by Nick Tilley (ed) 2005: Willan Publishing, Devon.
    British Crime Survey data 2006/07: Crime in England and Wales 2006/07: Home Office
    Commercial Victimisation Survey 2002: Home Office
* Rogerson (2004) New Deal for Communities, The National Evaluation: Crime Incidence, Prevalence and
Concentration in NDCs: Implications for Practice. Research Report 45.

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