Evidence-based crime prevention: Scientific basis, trends, results and implications
Crime prevention policy and practice should be based on solid scientific knowledge and evidence. Even though support for and recognition of evidencebased crime prevention (EBCP) is growing, much work still remains to put this knowledge into practice. In this report, Dr. Brandon Welsh highlights the importance of advancing crime prevention and community safety based on the most reliable, systematically-assembled knowledge of 'what works'.
Overall, an evidence-based approach typically refers to programs and practices that are proven to be effective through sound research methodology and have produced consistently positive patterns of results (Welsh, 2007). From this perspective, EBCP ensures that the best available evidence is considered in the decision to develop and implement a program or policy designed to prevent or reduce crime.
Current knowledge on the effectiveness crime prevention measures and interventions is organized according to the main living environments in which individuals develop.
School-based Programs: Three types of programs, focusing on youth at-risk and their social development, are considered to be effective:
- school and discipline management;
- interventions to establish norms or expectations for behaviour; and
- self-control or social competency instruction.
Family-based Programs: Five types of programs, targeting family at-risk and focusing on reducing the impact of family risk factors, are considered to be effective:
- home visitation for families at-risk;
- accessible day care or preschool programs for at-risk families;
- parent training (with younger children);
- parent training (with older children) at home or in the community; and
- multisystemic therapy.
Community-based Programs: Three types of programs, incorporating situational prevention and working through social development, show some promise results:
- gang member intervention programs that are focused on reducing cohesion among youth gangs and individual gang members;
- community-based mentoring; and
- after-school recreation.
Placed-focused Programs: Three types of programs primarily based on situational prevention and targeted at public and private spaces, and public transport, are considered to be effective:
- nuisance abatement;
- environmental improvements such as closed-circuit television surveillance cameras; and
- improved street lighting.
Evidence-ba.sed crime prevention is becoming increasingly popular, and various countries around the world have helped advance scientific knowledge on effective crime-prevention practices. The relevance to Canada of adopting an evidence-based approach to crime prevention is that it supports strategic directions for the development and implementation of good practices to prevent crime, thereby ensuring a more cost-effective use of public resources.
- Welsh, Brandon C. (2007) Evidence-Based Crime Prevention: The Scientific Basis, Trends, and Results, with Implications for Canada, Final Report, Prepared for the National Crime Prevention Centre, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada.
- Sherman, Lawrence W., Farrington, David P., Welsh, Brandon C., and MacKenzie, Doris Layton (eds.) (2006). Evidence-Based Crime Prevention. Revised edition. New York: Routledge.
- Welsh, Brandon C. and Farrington, David P. (eds.) (2006). Preventing Crime: What Works for Children, Offenders, Victims, and Places. The Netherlands: Springer.
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