Crime Prevention Research Working Group Meeting: Research Issues, Questions and Gaps

October 7-8, 2010

See also presentations from the meeting.


On October 7-8, 2010, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) hosted a meeting with a working group of invited participants to discuss and identify research issues, questions and gaps to be addressed in the field of crime prevention research. Meeting guests representing both researcher and practitioner communities participated in the two-day discussion.

Each participant should be considered an expert in the area of crime prevention, from either an academic or a practitioner perspective. The juxtaposition of researchers and practitioners offered an opportunity to address issues from two different but related perspectives. The academic scholars included Anthony Braga, Ronald Clarke, Elaine Doherty, David Farrington, Catherine Gallagher, Denise Gottfredson, Steven Lab, Robert Langworthy, Mark Lipsey, Karen Parker, Brandon Welsh. Practitioner experts included Jeffrey Allison, Chief Theron Bowman, Chief Thomas Casady, Chief Edward Flynn, Thomas Gore, Tio Hardiman, Barry Holman, and Robert Listenbee.

The discussion can be characterized best as an educational session at which NIJ learned from some of the best scholars and practitioners about where the current literature and practice on crime prevention currently stands. Using a format that began with a background paper (pdf, 60 pages), this topical working group identified the following crime prevention research issues, questions, and gaps in current research. The results are categorized as follows: dissemination issues, situational crime prevention research issues and gaps, and developmental crime prevention research and gaps.

The following lists of research issues, questions and gaps were generated by the Crime Prevention Research Working Group in group discussions using a nominal group process. The working group first discussed dissemination issues in the context of situational crime prevention although many of the identified issues and gaps related to crime prevention research in general. The group then took up the identification of situational crime prevention research issues, questions and gaps followed by developmental crime prevention on the second day.

Dissemination Issues

  • Disseminating Practitioner-geared publications tying research results to field applications.
  • Providing better vehicles/modes of disseminating of results (e.g., Research in Brief-style publications).
  • Developing better mechanisms to get information to decision makers.
  • Producing multiple types of dissemination products: briefs (5 pages or less) for practitioners, longer summaries, extended reports.
  • Distilling information and conclusions about policy and practice (where the evidence leads “Decision-making in Brief”).
  • Increasing access to up-to-date information on situational crime prevention (SCP).
  • Facilitating access to SCP information from all relevant agencies and other sources.
  • Providing technical assistance to practitioners (e.g., how to collect information, what programs already exist, or menu of strategies for tackling issues).
  • Promoting and encouraging use of SCP research in other areas of criminal justice systems, education and other disciplines.
  • Developing networks of individuals who translate research for practitioners.
  • Assessing what to do with research answers (roles of feasibility/utility).
  • Providing a centralized, live system of information regarding SCP.
  • Targeting SCP information to specific disciplines and practice populations.
  • Assessing how are other audiences (public and private) receiving information (if at all).

Situational Crime Prevention: Research Issues and Gaps

  • Needing more general research, development and evaluation of SCP strategies.
  • Identifying causal factors.
  • Making more time-series data available for evaluations.
  • Researching the intersection of situations across domains (such as schools, poverty and child behavior).
  • Specifying the mechanisms by which SCP interventions work.
  • Updating assessments of “what works” strategies.
  • Requiring detailed information on “what we know” as a preface to doing research. Require systematic assessment and evaluation of research to raise the quality of research being done.
  • Discovering situations that have yet to be studied (e.g., stolen goods market).
  • Conducting more research using longitudinal research designs.
  • Developing mechanisms to effectively inform decision makers about program effectiveness.
  • Developing effective SCP strategies specifically for high risk offenders and victims.
  • Developing policy implications for SCP in communities with high-risk offenders?
  • Determining factors related to which interventions are context specific versus generalizable to other situations/environments.
  • Investigating “healthy situations” in addition to the unhealthy ones.
  • Making better use of existing data (secondary analysis).
  • Conducting cost-benefit analysis and dissemination of recommendations based on that information.
  • Collecting better data at the law enforcement level; routine collection of data to create useful information for research.
  • Applying SCP to organized crime issues (and other kinds of crime not yet studied in depth).
  • Investigating white-collar crime situations, corporate designs for prevention?
  • Developing interventions to influence private-sector vulnerabilities and behaviors.
  • Determining if each type of crime needs a specialized strategy.
  • Determining how decision-makers make decisions, including information used in decision-making.
  • Determining SCP effectiveness with people of different ages; combining developmental and situational aspects of crime prevention in research.
  • Studying seasonal and time factors in SCP (e.g., time of day, day of the week, season, etc.).
  • Assessing standardization of research strategies in SCP; what degree of standardization across research is desirable?
  • Conducting research on decision-making in private industry.
  • Conducting SCP research specifically targeting individuals with mental health issues.

Developmental Crime Prevention: Research Issues and Gaps

  • Conducting research on scaling up effective programs and techniques to maintain fidelity including organizational research and implementation research.
  • Encouraging further evaluation/independent replication to assess/establish effectiveness of promising programs.
  • Conducting research to further assess independent/separable risk-factor constructs in DCP; reconsidering current conceptualization, measurement of risk factors, and continuity of risk factors across domains and time/stability of risk factors.
  • Experimentally evaluating the use of police in schools (SRO programs); assessing effects of different SRO program models.
  • Adding measures of serious crime and gang membership to evaluation studies. Increasing specification of crime (type and severity) in intervention studies with crime/criminal behavior outcomes.
  • Determining mediating/moderating mechanisms and pathways in DCP interventions.
  • Identifying and defining discrete program components in assessing intervention effects.
  • Assessing validity and reliability of measurements for assessment, screening, selection, and outcomes and different crime measures.
  • Expanding assessment of outcomes to include more than criminal behavior/crime reduction.
  • Measuring aspects related to implementation (frequency, duration and dose) of programs delivered at the individual level.
  • Conducting research to experimentally test school climate interventions — especially those aimed communal organization and school-discipline management.
  • Assessing costs-benefits of early versus later intervention in DCP (age and context, parenting, home visitation, school, juvenile court).
  • Expanding school-based interventions data collection to include multiple sources relevant to the situation and context (such as school climate).
  • Assessing the validity and reliability of existing DCP measurement instruments.
  • Developing measurement and data collection (including administrative data) systems before implementation of intervention programs.
  • Requiring the reporting of intervention cost data as process information to better assess costs/benefits.
  • Using secondary analyses of data from intervention studies; reanalyzing longitudinal data; establishing a bank of evaluation data.
  • Examining the diffusion of costs-benefits (system effects) in school-based crime prevention.
  • Relating different types of interventions to different types of settings (home, schools or other community institutions).
  • Using accelerated longitudinal research designs in assessing intervention effects.
  • Carrying out costs-benefits analysis on already completed evaluation research.
  • Including measurement/assessment of mental health issues, and the use of prescribed and illegal drugs.
  • Conducting research to better understand promotive/protective factors and resiliency in DCP.
  • Assessing costs/benefit between and across individuals and situations, and antisocial/criminal behavior outcomes.
  • Designing evaluations to account for experimenter and participant “halo” effects.
  • Increasing use of administrative records data for measurement in DCP research.
  • Conducting a comprehensive update of the President’s 1968 Crime Commission reports.
  • Assessing law enforcement vs. school administration perspectives on police in schools
  • Developing standardized data collection and reporting protocols for programs including implementation and cost data.
  • Assessing effects of different mentoring intervention models.
  • Assessing health-related factors related to quality of life, particularly with regard to schools.
  • Increasing consideration of ethical implications of interventions.
  • Conducting DCP Simulation and Modeling research.
  • Deriving research questions from functions of state vs. federal agencies.

Dr. John Laub, Director of NIJ, provided opening remarks, welcoming participants to the meeting and suggesting that NIJ is improving the process of planning and of translating research into practice with these topical working group meetings. He said that he has become increasingly interested in seeing whether or not something like a “translational criminology” is possible, and that these topical working group meetings represent one aspect of this approach.

Patrick Clark, of NIJ, reviewed the agenda and said that the meeting would be largely based upon the Welsh and Farrington background paper distributed earlier to participants.See The Future of Crime Prevention: Developmental and Situational Strategies (pdf, 60 pages). The topic of crime prevention is broad. This meeting focused primarily on two aspects or categories of crime prevention: situational crime prevention and developmental crime prevention. Situational crime prevention was the topic of discussion on the first day, and developmental crime prevention was discussed on the second day.

Situational Crime Prevention

In response to a request by NIJ, Drs. Brandon Welsh and David Farrington presented the paper The Future of Crime Prevention: Developmental and Situational Strategies (pdf, 60 pages) that served as the starting point for the day’s discussion. Dr. Welsh suggested that the field of research on the topic of crime prevention is very broad and requires some level of classification by type or approach to focus the discussion during the limited time available for the meeting.

Several types of crime prevention can be identified. Community crime prevention is designed to change social conditions and institutions (e.g., social norms) that impact offending in whole communities. Community crime prevention often overlaps with developmental and situational crime prevention. Much less is known about effective community programs that target social processes that influence offending. David Farrington would talk some more about this during the second day, but most discussion over the course of the meeting will concentrate on situational and developmental crime prevention research issues, questions and gaps. Dr. Welsh also said that he would present developmental crime prevention (DCP) and situational crime prevention (SCP) as they focus on preventing crime outside of the criminal justice system. DCP focuses on individuals, risk factors, and causes (isolating factors that are scientifically established). SCP focuses on designing interventions to prevent crime by decreasing opportunities and increasing risks and difficulty of offending, and on settings or places where criminal acts take place.

Dr. Welsh offered that discussions during the meeting should address three key questions:

  • What do we know? Focusing on the effectiveness of policies, programs and technologies.
  • What do we need to know? Focusing on gaps in knowledge on effectiveness and related issues.
  • How can we find out? Focusing on research strategies to address gaps in knowledge and priorities for research.

For development of the background paper, Welsh and Farrington selected only the highest quality evaluation research studies (experimental and quasi-experimental research designs) and the most rigorous reviews of evidence (meta-analysis and other systematic approaches to reviewing the literature).

He then reviewed findings from recent research on some of the interventions that have been shown to be effective in situational crime prevention including nuisance abatement, improved street lighting, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), preventing repeat residential burglary victimization, and Neighborhood Watch.

A number of other situational crime prevention strategies appear promising, such as security guards in parking lots, restaurant server training, multiple store clerks and store redesigns, but more and better research is needed. Evaluation research needs to move beyond just assessing outcomes to include measurement of moderating mechanisms and processes so that we can answer questions regarding why something works.

Dr. David Farrington from Cambridge University then presented information from the background paper regarding causes, moderators, research designs, costs/benefits research, and other ideas. He suggested that more situational crime prevention research needs to incorporate theory including the causes of criminal behavior. SCP could gain much by incorporating aspects of targeting risk factors, or promotive/protective factors that may be involved with specific situations. Much could also be learned by measuring areas or places in terms of the risks and protective aspects represented by a location. Situational crime prevention research also needs to learn more about mediating processes and mechanisms by including observational data and interviews or surveys of offenders and victims. SCP research needs to assess the active ingredients of multiple component programs and to incorporate research designs to test causal hypotheses rather than just outcomes. Also, it is important to assess the places and settings in which a program or strategy works in comparison to other settings. External validity and generalizability remain as issues in SCP research, and very little is known about implementation processes, quality/fidelity control and regression to the mean.

Dr. Farrington then presented a number of suggestions to improve SCP research including the increased use of longitudinal designs and randomization of conditions. The inclusion of control or comparison conditions is essential and repeated measures including follow-up are important to increase the quality of research in this area. Also, assessment of costs/benefits is largely missing from SCP research.

SCP research should measure more than just prevalence of a problem or crime, but other aspects such as frequency, seriousness, duration, etc. Better and more sensitive measures of displacement and diffusion of benefits also are needed. Wide-ranging measurements are needed including social costs and other intangible benefits. For instance, it would be useful to know if improved lighting on a street also results in greater utilization of streets and facilities in the area. Comparisons between immediate and long-term benefits (not just the short-term effects) are needed as well. Finally, we ultimately need to compare the costs/benefits of DCP and SCP with regard to other aspects in criminal justice like prisons, courts, and police.

Dr. Ron Clarke from Rutgers University responded to the background paper with critical comments based on his work and the literature. Having been involved with SCP research over the years, Dr. Clarke suggested that much of what goes on in SCP isn’t formal place-based research, but strategies and actions taken by corporations and companies to do things like redesign products. Automobile companies may make changes to cars to reduce vehicle theft or banks may make changes to credit cards to reduce fraud. Much SCP evaluation research is product-based and target specific problems like cell phone fraud (cloning) that can’t be generalized to other things, situations or settings. For instance, there are things like tamperproof packaging that have not been systematically evaluated, but appear to be more or less effective because further incidents are prevented. In this regard, he said that much of SCP isn’t accomplished by public agencies, but by private businesses such as retailers using radio tags to reduce shoplifting. These interventions have little to do with academic research and are rarely evaluated for publication or by public agencies. And so, they are not available to be included in a review like that provided by Welsh and Farrington.

Criticisms regarding scaling-up and generalization may not be relevant because SCP is aimed at specific crimes in specific places (like CCTV in car parks to prevent motor vehicle theft). Therefore, differences in effectiveness are expected in different situations or circumstances. The approach of developing standardized programs isn’t very useful in SCP. Instead, it may be more important to further efforts in providing the capacity for SCP to practitioners. Dr. Clarke referred to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing Exit Notice as an example. SCP aspects or strategies appear to work better when combined, and this makes the effects of individual components or distinct parts difficult to measure. This also makes systematic reviews and meta-analysis difficult to accomplish.

There appears to be less research on SCP in the United States compared to Europe and it seems that researchers here are more interested in why people become criminals, than in the situations in which crimes occur. We know that crime is the outcome of motivated offenders and favorable circumstances and a problem for Criminology may be that it has focused more on one side of the equation (developmental) than on the other (situational).

A Police Chief’s Perspective on Crime Prevention

Chief Tom Casady from the Lincoln (NE) Police Department presented his perspective on crime prevention for the luncheon discussion. At one end of a continuum, many police chiefs are very committed to crime prevention as an important strategy in securing community safety and well-being. Many chiefs are familiar with theories of crime and the policing strategies that flow from those theories. They are comfortable thinking and talking about collective efficacy, social disorganization, and routine activities theory. They are likely to be active supporters of primary prevention strategies such as early childhood education and mentoring. These chiefs are very interested in the practice of situational crime prevention. Their departments are likely to be engaged in problem-oriented policing as an important component of their work.l,

At the other end of the spectrum are chiefs who view crime prevention quite differently. They may remember their college class on the topic and the Crime Prevention Unit in the Police Department of their youth, but consider prevention to be a fuzzy concept of "community relations" rather than a strategy to reduce crime and enhance safety and security. When thinking of crime prevention, these chiefs might think of police officers attending neighborhood watch meetings, bike rodeos, or staffing a booth at the county fair. They see it as basically serving a public relations role that is only tangentially related to crime.

The majority of U.S. police chiefs are somewhere between these two extremes, and they desire information about "what works." Police chiefs need to be provided with information that translates research and concepts of crime prevention into police operations and strategies that actually ameliorate crime and disorder. He affirmed that “many police are ready to learn and listen, and many are open to different and more effective ways of policing.”

Chief Casady considers this to be an excellent time to promote a different way of doing business in policing. Some of the pillars of policing as practiced in the U.S. are currently threatened by emerging economic realities, creating conditions that prompt adoption of new approaches. For instance, traditional "crook-catching" (he defines as the intense devotion to criminal investigation and arrest as the ultimate expression of policing) is up for reconsideration. More and more, chiefs are realizing that the endless cycle of arrest, incarceration, and release simply does not work in many cases; or at best, lacks efficiency. The increased use of incarceration over the past 20 years is simply unsustainable, both economically and ethically.Budgetary stress is causing state and local governments to close or downsize correctional institutions, and more offenders than ever are being released. In this regard, law enforcement may be ready for change, and ready to try something different.

One of the favored crime and order strategies, police patrol, may be unsustainable, at least in its present form, which relies on a tremendous amount of gasoline. Despite a generation of research questioning the efficacy of police patrols, it is still one of the dominant activities of policing in the United States. Rising fuel costs make it imperative that police chiefs find ways to deliver public safety strategies that are less reliant on gasoline. Most chiefs understand this and are now prepared to consider place-based approaches, problem-oriented policing, and situational crime prevention strategies that are as effective, or more so, than basic patrols.

The present situation of decreasing resources presents both an opportunity and an imperative. To change course, chiefs need to learn about available alternatives to crook-catching and police patrols. The case needs to be made effectively that other approaches, such as situational crime prevention, actually work and are readily available. Programs like the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing provide good examples of DOJ-funded projects that are accomplishing this purpose. Situational crime prevention should be a foundational topic in criminal justice college programs, police academies, and police management training curricula.

One police practitioner suggested that prevention should be viewed as being on the proactive end of a proactive-reactive continuum. In this regard, if an intervention requires the existence of crime, it is not actually preventing crime, but intervening or reacting to it. Research needs to develop and provide prevention programs, strategies and methodologies that do not involve intervening in crime, but actually serve to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Most criminal justice research seems to focus on the problem of crime after it occurs, similar to police departments. He said that the question for police should be: What can be done to prevent crime in the first place, and years from now?.

Police generally find it difficult to take a longitudinal perspective because urgency is always an issue. Police often cannot wait for the development of a program or intervention, so that makes the SCP approach more useful to police. Unintended consequences related to SCP interventions remain a problem, and more research is needed about their impacts. For example, police chiefs need to know the best way of closing down a drug market without having unintended consequences such as increasing robberies and homicides by underemployed drug dealers. The biggest part of violence in communities is interpersonal fights, but there is not much that police can do to prevent it. Police could use information regarding effective strategies to deal with these few members of the community — the few families that are the most violent and present the greatest challenge.

In policing, there is always pressure to do something now, with little time to design a response. Police need readily available information about models, strategies, and programs that have been validated — information that will help police go against conventional wisdom and the status quo when necessary. Too often, criminal justice is prone to shallow problem-solving and readily available resources of good information are needed. In addition, the dissemination problem should be considered in a much broader context. The challenge is to determine the audiences that need information and education regarding prevention, and to provide targeted information regarding effective approaches, programs, policies and technologies.

According to a court practitioner, part of the problem involves terminology and the audience. People working in the juvenile court, for instance, will look for information about delinquency prevention rather than crime prevention, and that leads them to more proactive approaches. Information needs to be generated on crime prevention to reach those making system decisions in allocating scarce dollars for prevention.

The first day of the working group meeting ended by focusing on issues, questions and gaps in research on situational crime prevention. These were identified using a nominal group process and ranked according to importance.

The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program

To set the stage for discussion about effective developmental crime prevention policies and programs, Dr. Audrey Yowell, Health Resources and Services Administration discussed implementation of the Home Visitation Program provisions of the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Public Law 111 – 148). Dr. Yowell is the national program director of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation Program. She reported that the implementation process is underway with a total of $1.5 billion being expended over the course of 5 years. Five percent of grant funding to states must be used for technical assistance and training. A total of 3 percent has been set aside for Native American tribes, and 3 percent has been dedicated to federal evaluation research.

All states (and six additional jurisdictions) have received formula funding for development of plans for state implementation, including a needs assessment. By now, all states have submitted needs assessments, and block grants are currently being distributed. Some states have yet to fulfill other requirements or answer questions and update already submitted plans. Each state must effectively identify an at-risk target population for program provision, and must submit a specific plan to provide home visitation services to that population. They also must select a model for implementation from a prescribed list of programs shown to be effective.

An advisory group and an interagency working group are being convened to assist with the federal evaluation of the program, and states may also engage in evaluation research. The plan is to allow for continued experimentation and development of the approach so that the home visitation model may be improved over time, and so that effective approaches can be validated in different locations and with different populations.

Developmental Crime Prevention

The second day opened with some discussion regarding the scope of the meeting and the need to examine research that includes all aspects of crime prevention.

Dr. Brandon Welsh introduced the topic of developmental crime prevention (DCP), using the background paper as the basis of discussion. The review was based upon the current literature on causes of crime, specifically risk factors/predictive factors for delinquency and later offending, and the growing body of knowledge on what works in DCP. Historically, a number of individual and family interventions have been demonstrated to be effective in DCP. In particular, parent education (home visitation), parent management training, child skills training, and preschool intellectual enrichment programs have be demonstrated to be effective in preventing the onset of criminal behavior among children. Generally effective programs — general parent education or parent management training —target risk factors such as poor parental child-rearing, supervision, or discipline. Programs for children focus on high impulsivity, low empathy, self-centeredness (skills training), and low aptitude and attainment (preschool) also have been demonstrated to be successful in reducing delinquent behavior.

As an example, the home visitation model presented by Dr. Yowell was based upon the Nurse-Family Partnership model developed by David Olds. The model was designed originally to affect health-related outcomes among pregnant mothers. In addition to positive health outcomes, it was found to result in significant decreases in physical child abuse and neglect, alcohol/substance abuse and criminal justice involvement on the part of both the mothers and the children. Home visitation has also been estimated to be cost-effective (especially for highest risk mothers and offspring). Although some evaluation research results are still mixed, and research regarding the program continues, the home visitation model has been widely disseminated and adopted internationally.

Other examples include effective peer, school and community DCP programs. Although there are promising indications for peer programs, to date there are not any good studies to rigorously evaluate outcomes. However, there are a number of studies demonstrating effectiveness in positive outcomes of school-based programs — approaches such as mentoring and multi-systemic therapy — in preventing criminal behavior.

David Farrington talked about advancing knowledge on DCP and highlighted developments in the United Kingdom and other places as examples. He also discussed the idea of a national prevention agency. Community-level approaches to prevention have largely targeted risk factors, more research is needed to document and validate what would be promotive or protective factors. Promotive or protective factors may bring with them more positive connotations than risk factors and may provide a more positive message to communities. More research is also needed on mediating/moderating mechanisms and processes, and improved research designs are needed to document effective components or ingredients of these programs. Furthermore, careful research is needed to adequately assess the causal theories underlying these prevention approaches.

The need for more evaluation research — including longitudinal/life course research designs and development of costs-benefits analysis — has gained wider acceptance of development crime prevention approaches. As an example of the process of developing a costs-benefits analysis, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy has accomplished much in making costs-benefits analysis available to decision-makers in a broad array of criminal justice and corrections programs. The state of Washington mandated that costs/benefits analysis be provided every time legislation is proposed that impacts upon state budgets.

Five Ideas for Future Crime Prevention Research

Dr. Denise Gottfredson from the University of Maryland presented five ideas for future crime prevention based upon her work in school-based research. First, add measures of serious crime and gang membership to evaluation studies on school programs including measures of serious and violent crimes. Her recent research found that only 18 (10%) of 178 program studies actually included measurement of serious violent crime outcomes among participants. And, only 39 studies (22%) measured serious property crime outcomes.

Secondly, research is needed on the validity of different crime measures. A variety of studies find different levels of incidence and prevalence in criminal behavior. For instance, recent results from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) (2005) indicate that eight percent of students in grades 9-12 that they reported were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the previous 12 months. From the same year, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) (2005) estimated the rate of serious violent victimization at school as 4 per 1,000 (or 0.4 percent) for 15-18 year olds. The YRBSS rate is 20 times higher than the NCVS rate.

As a further example of the need for better measurement, in a recent year (2005-2006), the School Survey on Crime and Safety found that middle and high school principals reported 928 thousand violent crimes and 206 thousand thefts on school property during the school year. However, a recent NCVS (2005) estimated a total of 628 thousand violent victimizations and 868 thousand theft victimizations during the year (for 12 to 18 year olds). More research is needed to provide valid and reliable measurement of serious, violent and property crime among children in schools.

The third idea is to conduct research that experimentally tests school climate interventions, especially those aimed at communal organization and school discipline management. Assessments of school climate should include administration and management of school buildings as well as the communal and social organization of schools.

Fourth, research is needed to evaluate experimentally the use of police in schools. There has been a large increase of police in schools over the last 30 years, yet there has been no systematic evaluation of impacts and outcomes of this change. Possible effects of police in school buildings may include increased surveillance and enforcement, increased safety, increased fairness/clarity of rules, increased student trust, increased crime reporting, erosion of informal social control mechanisms, increased fear/distrust, weakened sense of community, and other civil liberties issues. Information also is needed regarding the effect of police in schools on other mediators, school crime and safety. Data are needed to assess effectively and systematically the effects of increased police presence to answer questions related to whether it results in increased school safety, and whether it may be at the expense of having more students suspended and expelled from school, and whether this may create more crime in the community.

Lastly, research is needed to examine the diffusion of costs and benefits in school-based crime prevention, and to assess system effects more adequately. For instance, research on the Multi-Site Violence Prevention Project found that a single violence prevention program produced significant long-term reductions in violence among an entire sixth grade cohort. The long-term costs/benefits of these types of interventions need to be measured and better estimated.

Prevention Initiatives and Community Crime Prevention

The discussion then shifted to recent prevention initiatives and the notion of community crime prevention. An example of the comprehensive approach was the process implemented under the Communities That Care program. The process of implementing such an approach at the community level included the development of infrastructure, a menu of strategies, assessment of risks, and evaluation research including assessment of implementation processes.

Recent prevention initiatives in the United Kingdom include an action plan for social exclusion, which includes early intervention with at-risk children and the provision of programs such as home visiting, teenage pregnancy prevention, family-based intervention, and assistance to mentally ill adults.

Primary prevention largely is absent from existing approaches in the United States. Dr. Farrington suggested that a potential solution to this omission might be a national prevention agency. For example, the National Crime Prevention Council in Sweden, where over 80% of local jurisdictions have been enlisted to form local crime prevention councils. Such an agency could provide a consistent focus on prevention and continuous funding for prevention at the local level. It could serve a number of purposes such as to maintain a national prevention agenda including monitoring quality, technical assistance, standards for evaluation, training and technical assistance, a national registry of evaluation research, coordination and advise to the government on effective programs.


Date Created: January 11, 2012