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Situational Crime Prevention

5. Debating Situational Crime Prevention

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we explore some of the debates surrounding situational crime prevention, focusing in particular on: (i) the evidence that it's actually effective in reducing crime; (ii) the criticism that SCP does not lead to an overall reduction in crime, but simply displaces it in one way or another (Reppetto 1976, Barr and Pease 1990); (iii) the evidence for the displacement phenomenon, and the concept of diffusion of benefit; (iv) the criticism that SCP does not deal with the root causes of crime; (v) the criticism that SCP gives rise to a 'fortress society'; and (vi) the ethics of SCP interventions, including the desirability (or otherwise) of 'gated communities'.

– R. Barr and K. Pease, 'Crime Placement, Displacement and Deflection', in M. Tonry (ed.), Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, Vol. 12 (1990)
– T. A. Reppetto, 'Crime Prevention and the Displacement Phenomenon', Crime and Delinquency 222 (1976), pp. 166-77.


In this course, Professor Kate Bowers (University College, London) explores the theory and practice of situational crime prevention (SCP). In the first lecture, we think about the role of situation and opportunity in crime, including the important concepts of rational choice theory and routine activity theory. In the second lecture, we think about the five principles of SCP – increasing the effort, increasing the risk, removing excuses, reducing provocations, and reducing rewards. In the third lecture, we look at three situations in which one or more of these principles have successfully been applied. Next, we take a step back from SCP to think about how entire spaces can be designed with the minimisation of crime in mind – a concept known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). In the fifth lecture, we consider some of the criticism of SCP.


Kate Bowers is a Professor in Crime Science at the UCL Department of Security and Crime Science. Kate has worked in the field of crime science for over 20 years, with research interests focusing on the use of quantitative methods in crime analysis and crime prevention Her most recent interests are big data approaches and the use of innovative data in understanding crime data. She has published over 100 papers and book chapters in criminology and in journals such as Criminology, the Journal of Quantitative Criminology and the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Bowers, K. (2021, August 23). Situational Crime Prevention - Debating Situational Crime Prevention [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Bowers, K. "Situational Crime Prevention – Debating Situational Crime Prevention." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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