Criminal Damage & Repeat
ABOUT THESE GUIDES
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
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
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
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
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
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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
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 (www.crimereduction.gov.uk/criminaldamage)
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. (www.crimereduction.gov.uk/toolkits/rv00.htm)
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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