Headlines: February 20th, 1998

Two new crime prevention blueprints will help police forces cut crime. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary report ‘Beating Crime’ concludes that although most forces are committed to crime prevention, few are implementing the practical well thought-out solutions needed. The second report from the Police Research Group identifies some of the successes and failures in crime prevention in forces across the country and points the way to what might be done to reduce crime.The HMIC report calls for improvements to the national framework, particularly on co-ordination and training, and further development of the Key Objectives for policing to reflect crime prevention priorities. ‘Beating Crime’ concludes that where successful partnerships exist they have reduced crime significantly, in some forces up to 15% in the last year and 40% over five years, but much police crime prevention activity is ineffective and wasteful.

The PRG findings ‘Getting the Grease to the Squeak’ shows how successful crime prevention strategies are constructed and how police can get the crime prevention ‘grease’ to the crime ‘squeak’. Rejecting the Cinderella approach – crime prevention as the ‘poor relation’ of day to day policing – it says that officers at local and force level need to be resourced, trained and made accountable for progress in crime prevention.

It reveals that the gathering of information and data about the problem is the key to properly identifying it and bringing on board the main partners needed to tackle it.

Among the examples highlighted in the reports as good practice were: an after school street robbery problem identified and solved by increased patrolling, visits to school assemblies and changes to the bus timetable to ensure that potential victims were not delayed after school waiting for the bus.

In another case, intelligence and analysis revealed that a car breakers yard was responsible for the disposal of around 200 stolen cars a year. Although a number of police operations resulted in prosecutions, the true nature of the criminal operation was not revealed until a multi-agency project was set up. This resulted in the operators of the yard being prosecuted under planning regulations, health and safety, trading standards and benefit fraud. The results were that the yard closed and there was a significant decrease in the number of vehicles stolen in the area in subsequent months.