What stops people offendingIn the absence of an extensive evidence base on what tactics work to deal with specific crime problems, it can be useful to think through whether a particular policing activity is likely to be effective in terms of how the police can reduce crime. The police can reduce crime by: increasing the chance of being caught; reducing opportunities for crime; and by winning hearts and minds (for a more detailed description of these mechanisms see Bottoms 2002). Increasing the chance of being caught – deterrenceSimply the existence of a criminal justice system will act as a deterrent to the public by showing that there are negative consequences to offending (Von Hirsch et al. 1999; Nagin 1998). The police specifically can discourage potential offenders by increasing their chance of being caught. Pratt et al. (2009) have examined the evidence on deterring people more generally from offending by increasing the risk of being caught, using combined results from 40 studies. The analysis provided some evidence in support of the idea that certainty of being caught has a deterrent effect, regardless of the type of sanction which follows. The effect seems to vary by factors such as age and gender, and is weaker than the influence of peer-groups and the degree to which the individual had self-control (i.e. might be less able to resist an opportunity to commit a crime). Similarly, survey research from the UK recently showed that the risk of being caught and punished was associated with lower levels of reported traffic offending (like speeding) but not other minor crime (Myhill and Quinton 2011). It is possible to speculate that the presence of speed cameras and traffic wardens meant people believed they were more likely to be caught for traffic offences. There is evidence for a deterrent effect where prolific or repeat offenders are targeted – increasing their risk of being caught can reduce crime (Weisburd et al. 2010), and this, combined with access to support interventions (sometimes called a ‘carrot and stick’ approach) – has potential (Braga and Weisburd, 2010). The targeting of action at places where crime is concentrated provides an efficient way for the police to target repeat and prolific offenders (See Effective policing strategies for crime reduction).One implication of these findings is that a targeted or high level of enforcement is needed to achieve a general deterrent effect. Research from Australia, for example, has shown that the deterrent effect of random breath tests on drink driving declined when enforcement levels reduced (Homel 1988). Deterring people from offending in general might be a more sustainable option when it is possible for people to be caught remotely or automatically (for example with fraud) or when public awareness of the risk can be raised. The impact on public perceptions of high levels of enforcement is worth considering (see The evidence on zero-tolerance policing). Reducing opportunities for crime – situational crime preventionIt is also possible the police can cut crime by reducing the opportunities that 1exist for people to break the law. The prevention mechanism is based on the idea that crime occurs in specific situations when a ‘likely offender’ and ‘suitable target’ come together in the absence of a ‘capable guardian’ (Cohen and Felson 1979). With this starting point, and on the basis that people behave differently in different situations, there would be scope for the police to identify those situations where ‘likely offenders’ and ‘suitable targets’ could meet, and to change the situation in order to prevent crime from happening. There are numerous examples of ‘situational crime prevention’ where the police and others have taken action to remove the opportunities for crime. For example, manufacturers have made it much harder for vehicles to be stolen by fitting anti-theft devices to new cars such as immobilisers (Laycock 2004; Farrell et al. 2011). Vehicle crime accounted for about a quarter of all recorded crime in the 1980s and 90s, but now accounts for around one in eight crimes. Similarly, there is evidence that burglary can be prevented through ‘target hardening’ (e.g. the fitting of locks) and increasing ‘natural surveillance’ (e.g. cutting back hedges to allow passers-by to see points of access). Roe (2009) found that houses with at least a basic level of security (i.e. window locks and deadbolts on doors) were nearly ten times less likely to be burgled than those without. Alley gates, which restrict access to the rear of terrace houses, have been shown to result in sustained reductions in crime (Bowers et al. 2004; Armitage and Smithson 2007).Winning hearts and minds – enhancing police legitimacy Over time, the police may be able to reduce crime by encouraging people to obey the law because they think it is the right thing to do. This approach may reduce overall demand on the police. The main research evidence in this area, on ‘procedural justice’, suggests fair decision-making and respectful treatment by the police can enhance the legitimacy of the police in the eyes of the public which, in turn, fosters greater law abiding behaviour and cooperation with the police (Tyler 2006; Tyler and Fagan 2008). Why should fair treatment have this effect? The theory suggests that the way the police interact with people – including suspects – has a bearing on whether they feel valued and part of society (Tyler and Blader 2000; Jackson et al. in press). While experiences of fair treatment help build a sense of group identity and shared values, unfair police treatment erodes feelings of public trust and sends out a clear signal to citizens that they are not valued and that the rules do not apply to them. Thus, fair treatment encourages people to feel a sense of obligation and responsibility – making it more likely that they will help the police and not break the law. There is growing evidence internationally, including the UK, that provides support for this crime reduction mechanism (Myhill and Quinton 2011; Hough et al 2010). A new review which is shortly to be published has shown that fair treatment can improve satisfaction with police contact, public trust and confidence, and compliance and cooperation with the police – and increase the capacity of the police to prevent and control crime (Mazerolle et al. 2forthcoming). The review covers a wide range of interventions including the use of newsletters to improve transparency, training schemes for officers and restorative justice. However, for some communities who have had problematic relationships with the police in the past, trust may only be built up slowly over time (e.g. Patten Commission 1999).ReferencesArmitage, R. and Smithson, H. (2007) Alley-Gating Revisited: The Sustainability of Resident’s Satisfaction. Internet Journal of Criminology.Bottoms, A. (2002) Morality, Crime, Compliance and Public Policy, in Bottoms, A. and Tondry, M. (eds) Ideology, Crime and Criminal Justice. Cullompton: Willan.Bowers, K., Johnson, S., Hirschfield, A. 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