Crime Prevention - What is it? Definition: Crime Prevention can be defined as reducing the risk of occurrence and the potential seriousness of a crime by intervening in the causes. Intention: Crime Prevention focuses more upon the causes of crime rather than the effects of crime. The intention of crime prevention is to significantly reduce or eliminate those factors that can lead to a crime. Crime Prevention can be described as having three levels - primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. 1. Primary Crime Prevention - Directed at stopping the crime before it happens. This could include reducing the opportunities for a crime to occur or strengthening community and social structures. Primary prevention focuses on social and situational factors. Social crime prevention addresses factors that influence an individual’s likelihood of committing a crime (e.g. unemployment, poverty, low education etc). Prevention strategies to address social factors can include school based programs (e.g. truancy initiatives) as well as community based programs (e.g. local resident groups promoting community ownership). On the other hand situational prevention addresses the environment (e.g. building design). 2. Secondary Crime Prevention - Aims to change people, typically those at high risk of becoming involved in crime. The focus for secondary crime prevention can be on rapid and effective early intervention (e.g. youth programs) or on high risk neighbourhoods (eg. neighbourhood dispute centres). 3. Tertiary Crime Prevention - Focuses on the operation of the criminal justice system and addresses the issue of offending after it has happened. The main focus is on intervention in the lives of offenders in an attempt to prevent them from re-offending (e.g. community youth conferencing schemes). Overall the theory of Crime Prevention can often be difficult to define for a myriad of reasons including: • The term ‘prevention’ can be so diverse in its interpretation. • There are different possible forms or distinctions of crime prevention. The term is used across a broad range of international stages where occasionally there may be confusion in the use of the terminology. • As a concept, crime prevention can cover many theoretical premises. There is often no real commonality in which theories associated with crime prevention are ultimately reducible. • The flexible interpretation of the word ‘prevention’ allows for the term to be used in many ways.