New technology makes prevention possibleby Martin Innes / May 24, 2013 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
Police are responding to a perplexing crime mystery. Since the mid-1990s, there have been sustained reductions in crime, and these have continued despite the onset of austerity. It is a trend running counter to Home Office modeling, based upon long-term historical data, that confidently asserted crime would increase in a recession.
A complex set of social, political, economic and technological factors have all contributed to this crime drop. But as the effects of austerity “bite” and police budgets are cut, there is a need to find more efficient ways of managing crime. Contrary to the austerity mantra of “doing more with less” often cited by senior police officers, this involves police “doing less with more”—intervening less often in social life, but with greater impact. At its best, this means anticipating problems and preventing them from happening in the first place.
Against this backdrop Tom Winsor, the new Chief Inspector of Constabulary, used a recent speech to urge police to do more preventing of crime and less reacting to it. The newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners are also investing significantly in crime prevention. In policing and criminal justice policy, prevention is clearly where the action is. Why is this happening now, and how should police respond to this “preventative turn”?