The Oxford English Dictionary defines crime simply as “an action or omission which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law”. However, to understand why people commit crime and aim to prevent it, it is necessary to look beyond the law, including the influence of social, moral and political factors.
“A crime is a deliberate act that causes physical or psychological harm, damage to or loss of property, and is against the law. There are lots of different types of crime and nearly everyone will experience a crime at some point in their lives. One in five people were affected by crime last year; the equivalent of ten million people. It affects people from all backgrounds, locations and ages; more than one in ten children have been a victim of crime in the past year.”Victim Support
The European Union Crime Prevention Network defines Crime Prevention as “ethically acceptable and evidence-based activities aimed at reducing the risk of crime occurring and its harmful consequences with the ultimate goal of working towards the improvement of the quality of life and safety of individuals, groups and communities”.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) is considered to be a key source of information about trends in crime. It includes crimes that are not reported to, or recorded by, the police. Such information can help identify those most at risk of crime, which is useful when designing crime prevention programmes. The latest release is here.
The Beating Crime Plan 2021 sets out the UK Government’s strategic approach to cutting crime: cutting homicide, serious violence and neighbourhood crime; exposing and ending hidden harms; and building capability and capacity to deal with fraud and online crime. The plan follows a focus on ‘Safer Streets’, a series of community safety projects designed to crack down on neighbourhood crimes like burglary, vehicle theft and robbery. The initial two rounds of the Safer Streets Fund invested in the delivery of place-based crime prevention plans, to reduce acquisitive crime through situational crime prevention. The College of Policing have developed the Safer Streets Toolkit, which brings together a wide range of information and resources.
A third round of projects enables innovation as well as traditional interventions to improve the safety of public places. With a particular focus on reducing violence against women and girls (VAWG) and increase women and girls’ feelings of safety in public spaces (see Safety of Women at Night Fund). A further growing policy area is addressing online harms, with new internet laws being proposed by the UK Government in the Online Harms Bill. During 2020, the threat of cyber crime increased with more severe attacks in the UK, amplified due to more home working.
Legislation relating to different crime types can be found under each topic.