CHAPTER ONE: BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
1.0. Background Statement
Situational crime prevention refers to the manipulation and management of the immediate environment of a possible target of crime in a systematic and permanent way to, as much as possible, make crime more difficult, risky, less rewarding and excusable per the judgment of a potential offender. It comprises crime opportunity-reducing measures that are aimed at specific forms of crime; for example, the residential robberies experienced by the Ngleshie Amanfro community (Clarke, 1980; Birkbeck & LaFree, 1993; Clarke, 1997; Jacques & Reynald, 2012).
The concept, situational crime prevention, originated from a work by the Home Office Research Unit – the Criminological Research Department of the British Government, in the 1960s and 1970s (Clarke & Cornish, 1983; Clarke, 1997; Jacques & Reynald, 2012). The department reviewed the scope and effectiveness of the other forms of crime-reducing strategies aside the rehabilitation ideal. The conclusion from the review was that, “there was little scope for reducing crime through the essentially marginal adjustments that were practically and ethically feasible in relation to policies of incapacitation, deterrent sentencing, preventive policing or social prevention” (Tilley,1993c:6). They recommended a further research on opportunity-reducing approach on the basis of a discovery that the possibility of a juvenile running away or re-offending when resident in a probation home or training school was dependent on the opportunities for misbehavior than personal disposition (Clarke, 1980; 1997). Therefore, if institutional misbehavior in theory could be controlled by manipulating situational factors, it was asserted that it could also work for everyday forms of crime. This position of the Home Office Research Unit supported Burt’s (1925) assertion in a study of delinquency in London which revealed that the higher rates of property
offenses in the winter were because of the longer hours of darkness which present opportunity for crime (Garland, 1994).
Further, it became clearer from interviews with residential burglars and robbers (Scarr, 1973; Reppetto, 1974; Brantingham & Brantingham, 1975; Waller & Okihiro, 1979; Addington & Rennison, 2015; Lhayea, 2016) that the avoidance of risk and effort play a vital role in target selection decisions. This dynamic view on crime provided a more reasonable foundation for situational prevention and led to the formulation of the simple choice model of crime (Clarke, 1980; Jacques & Reynald, 2012). This model considered not only the offender’s background and current circumstances, but also the offender’s (i) instant motives and intentions, (ii) moods and feelings, (iii) moral judgments regarding the act in question, (iv) perception of criminal opportunities and the ability to take advantage of them or create them, and (v) assessment of the risks of being caught as well as the likely consequences (Clarke, 1997; Johnson et al., 2004; Boba &Santos, 2006; Mawby, 2013). This model was called “situational control theory” by Downes & Rock (1982), and was later developed into the rational choice perspective on crime (Clarke, 1997).
Situational Crime Prevention as a crime prevention strategy is open to public and private organizations as well as individuals as a means to bring a compelling crime situation under control (Clarke, 1997). The concept is therefore of relevance to the community members of Ngleshie Amanfro due to a sudden rise in armed robbery cases in the community, a situation which compelled the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to visit the area in order to do a personal assessment of the situation1.
1 Citifmonline.com, 25/08/August 2015
The concept has three main components. The first component according to Clarke (1997) makes clear that situational measures must be tailored to specific categories of crime; that is, distinctions must be made, not between broad categories of crime such as burglary and robbery, but rather between the different kinds of offenses falling under each of these categories. Poyner & Webb (1991) argued that preventing domestic burglaries which have electronic goods as the target may require different measures from those needed to prevent domestic burglaries which have cash or jewelry as the target. This is because of the many differences that exist between the two kinds of burglary in the population they studied. For instance, they found that when the target was cash or jewelry burglaries occurred mostly in older homes close to the city center and were committed by offenders operating on foot. When the targets are electronic goods such as TVs and VCRs the burglaries generally took place in newer and more distant suburbs, and are committed by offenders with cars. The cars are required to transport the stolen goods and have to be parked close to the house but not so close as to attract attention (Clarke, 1997; Boba &Santos, 2006; Monk et al., 2010; Barrett, 2012; Mawby, 2013).
Given that the residents of Amanfro were robbed in their homes and on the streets, especially, at night, measures to check street and residential robberies should be context specific in relation to these two forms of robbery. They may have some common characteristics but, are also dissimilar in many respects. Secondly, some members of the Amanfro community had a perception that the perpetrators of the armed robberies in the community were people from the community who were going hungry and were encouraged to engage in robbery because it was less likely that they would be arrested in the process. If this assertion is true, it reiterates the second component of Situational Crime Prevention concept which says there is no distinction between criminals and non-criminals.