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History of Crime Prevention

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Historically crime prevention was the main purpose of the police force (Peel, 1829). Since the 19th century, it has changed dramatically from reactive to proactive interventions. By a contemporary definition, crime prevention is actions taken by either individuals or public agencies with the preventive measure in the psychical and social environment in order to change certain behavior and events to reduce the occurrence of a criminal act and minimize the damage caused by it (Crawford 2007) and (Hughes in McLaughlin and Muncie 2003). These methods can include anticipation of crime, everyday actions like closing doors behind ourselves, using identification cards and passwords, and designing products in a way that makes them difficult to use if they got stolen. CP can also use approaches that change offenders’ behavior, environment, and personal circumstances. Also, several crime prevention policies were implemented and local communities and various agencies got involved such as the Five Towns Initiative and the Neighbourhood Watch. In recent years, crime reduction was used more commonly instead of CP as an indication and desire to not just prevent but significantly reduce crime.

History of Crime prevention through environmental design

Oscar Newman was the first person to popularize Situational crime prevention in the U.S. In the early 1970s he coined the term “defensible space.” According to Newman, proper residential designs are effective in reducing crime and criminal opportunities. C. Ray Jeffery had further extended his concepts to other areas as well like factories, and schools. Situational crime prevention was published in 1992 by Ronald Clarke. The best strategies for reducing criminal incidents were mentioned by Clarke in his paperwork.

According to criminologists, a country should use multiple tactics and strategies to reduce crime rates. They say that there is no specific approach for a particular crime however creating an environment where targets are less vulnerable can abate the crime rate. In Washington DC, a few of these techniques are used by the subway system to control crime. Researchers believe that there is behavior and environment are interconnected.

A group of sociologists from the University of Chicago was the first to study how the environment and crime are related. They found that there was social disorganization in specific parts of the city which was the cause of high crime rates. However, the rate was less in the concentric circles that were far away from these areas. The old criminology theories show that the characteristics of an individual are the main cause behind the crime rates which was rejected by the sociologists at Chicago University. Later, Jane Jacobs, an urban planner, came up with a new theory called eyes-on-the-street.

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According to him, crime can be reduced by keeping eyes on the streets; eyes refer to the windows. However, his theory was not comprehensive as without the involvement of the community, a reduction in crime rates is not possible (Yong, 2013).

Contemporary thinking of criminologists

C. Ray Jeffrey wrote a book after getting inspired by Jacob’s work where he challenged the old theories of criminologists. The CPTED was first used by him in this book where he used an interdisciplinary approach to analyze the cause of crimes. He analyzed crime from different perspectives or fields such as psychology, sociology, criminology, and administration of justice. Also, he drew the analysis from new fields such as behaviorism, decision theory, system analysis, environmentalism, and crime control models.

Environment affects the crime and its occurrence which is also influenced by a few factors such as the victim’s presence, surveillance and guardianship methods being used, and more. Environmental criminology focuses more on the factors responsible for the occurrence of crime. Hence, most of the theories are called crime opportunity theories.

More studies were conducted on it which demonstrates that crime is encouraged by certain environments. Such environments are areas with no proper light, high-rise buildings where different tenants from different societies live including highly trafficked streets. On the other hand, the use of natural surveillance, community centers, informal social controls, and public parks that is well-maintained show a reduction in crime as well as in fear of crime among people. In addition to this, it is very important to understand how the targets are picked by the criminals and how vulnerability affects their choice.

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History of Crime Prevention. (2023, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“History of Crime Prevention.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2023,
History of Crime Prevention. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Sept. 2023].
History of Crime Prevention [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Feb 24 [cited 2023 Sept 22]. Available from:
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