Crime reduction and community safety

Authored by: Simon Byrne , Ken Pease

Handbook of Policing

Print publication date:  August  2008
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9781843925002
eBook ISBN: 9780203118238
Adobe ISBN: 9781136308529


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At the time of writing England and Wales has experienced a prolonged drop in both recorded crime and self-reported victimisation by crime. This trend is unique since routine criminal statistics began. The onset of the decline anticipated the election of the current New Labour administration in 1997 and cannot therefore be claimed as a consequence of a particular political vision. Neither can it reasonably be claimed as the result of national policing reforms, since the period has coincided with major drops in crime in industrialised nations generally, whether these are measured by recorded crimes or victimisation surveys (van Dijk et al. 2006; van Dijk 2007a). The drop in the US anticipated that in Western Europe by some five years (Blumstein and Wallman 2006). The reasons invoked for the US (for example a decline in crack cocaine use) do not seem generally applicable (Zimring 2006). The most plausible contending (or complementary) explanations for the crime drop in Europe are in terms of:

Changes in the profile of presenting crime opportunities, declining in the light of general access to goods most often stolen

General improvement in levels of self-protection against crime (van Dijk 2007b).

Cohort-specific but cross-national changes in criminal propensity (Maxim 1985).

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