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Aesthetic of Prevention

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Volume: 1 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2001 Pages: 385-420
Mark J. Halsey
Date Published
November 2001
36 pages
This article critiques various dimensions of a recent crime-prevention initiative designed and administered by the National Crime Prevention Unit (NCPU) of the Australian Federal Government.
The initiative featured the distribution of three texts (an envelope that contained a letter and pamphlet) that explained how each householder could reduce the risk of burglary. This article examines some of the assumptions about crime and prevention that underlie these texts. This article argues that these texts (envelope, letter, and pamphlet) have little to do with crime prevention and much more to do with the management of images and concepts about crime, specifically burglary. These texts, in spite of their brevity and apparent banality, are major, rather than minor, texts because each is based on several "master" languages, i.e., those of opportunity reduction, public responsibility for crime, the necessity of law and order, and bureaucratic expertise. Such presentations of the dynamics and prevention of transgression and victimization are problematic because they are incapable of changing anything but known trajectories, e.g., those linking householders with emergency numbers or victims with counselors, as well as familiar objects, e.g., deadlocks, security screens, and sensor lights. 8 figures, 15 notes, and 62 references