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Not Rocket Science? Problem-Solving and Crime Reduction

NCJ Number
Tim Read; Nick Tilley
Date Published
57 pages
Problem-solving in crime reduction was studied by Great Britain Home Office's Policing and Reducing Crime Unit based on information obtained from 43 police forces in England and Wales about their crime reduction policies and procedures.
The 43 police forces completed a questionnaire asking about their overall approach to crime reduction and 8 short questionnaires describing 4 successful and 4 unsuccessful problem-solving initiatives. The police forces were then asked to fill in more extensive questionnaires on their nominated initiatives. In addition, researchers visited 12 police forces, conducted interviews and led focus groups. The initiative questionnaires covered a range of crime problems, including burglary, vehicle crime, and drug offenses. Only 5 percent of 266 responses about initiatives involved the police as the junior partner. Nearly 40 percent were police only initiatives, and most of the remaining initiatives involved multiple agency efforts and partnerships. Analysis of initiative questionnaires suggested that adopting a systematic problem-solving approach improved the prospects of success in reducing crime and disorder and that using incident data, crime data, and local authority data in defining and analyzing the source and distribution of crime problems contributed to problem-solving successes. Both questionnaire and interview findings indicated detailed analysis is needed to define problems in ways that open them to creative responses, site-specific analysis of problems is needed to select responses that are relevant to local circumstances, and community involvement is important in problem-solving interventions. Factors contributing to the failure of problem-solving initiatives are also identified, and a model of comprehensive problem-solving is presented. 33 references, 7 tables, and 3 figures