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Preventing Crime and Arson - A Review of Community-Based Strategies

NCJ Number
R F Cook; J A Roehl
Date Published
79 pages
This survey of neighborhood-based crime and arson prevention strategies covers Neighborhood Watches, environmental design, arson prediction systems, and tenants' organizations, noting that such efforts not only reduce urban crime but are inexpensive.
An overview of the causes and dynamics of urban crime focuses on the relationship between neighborhood deterioration and criminal activity. Current neighborhood-based approaches to preventing crime and arson are reviewed from four perspectives: citizen efforts such as block watches and mobile patrols, programs to improve police-community communications, initiatives to revitalize and preserve housing stock in deteriorating areas, and environmental design changes to reduce a neighborhood's vulnerability to crime. Arson prevention strategies are similar, but also involve prediction systems, tenant organizations, reducing arson opportunities for owners of deteriorating buildings, and cooperation with insurance companies. Issues central to all neighborhood-based crime prevention programs are examined, with attention to selecting appropriate strategies for individual neighborhoods, citizen involvement, the role of law enforcement agencies, resources, and relationships with other community activities. Arson programs also encounter these issues, but must address as well the complexity of an arson prediction system and obtaining assistance from the traditionally passive insurance industry. The book presents detailed discussions and case studies of two models which have demonstrated effectiveness and are related to neighborhood revitalization: the Neighborhood Watch and crime prevention through environmental design. Two antiarson models are also described; one focuses most resources on accurate identification of arson-prone buildings; the other emphasizes neighborhood organization, especially of tenants, over predictions. The paper concludes with proposals for research and demonstration programs. Charts, 5 footnotes, and approximately 130 references are supplied.