Crime Prevention Programs in Australia

For the past fifty years, the social and political environments of countries have taken an abrupt and dynamic turn, which are driven by historical global forces that strongly influenced the changing environments. Social and economic events transformed the once-solid social order that began to weaken starting in the 1960s.

Two transformative forces since the 1960s that led to the change in crime and social order would be the following: first is the social, economic, and cultural changes during the late modern period, and usually covers the Western industrialized countries during World War II; and second, the political realignments and policy initiatives, which reacted the crisis, such as ‘neo-liberalism’ and ‘social conservatism’ (Garland, 2001, p. 75).

These two forces were tragic in terms of crime prevention and social order because it transformed political and social conditions that were supposed to be the cornerstone of such stage, around welfare institutions and the areas of the modern crime control field.

This posed new problems that, in turn, had produced a new set of class and race relations, which was not appropriate to the former approach that was used for crime prevention. Political alignment appears to be essential in each style of governance, which has been what Australia has tried to achieve. This paper revolves around the development of an evidence-based crime prevention control field that was implemented in Australia.

The following sub-categories pertain to the following: (1) Australia’s history in terms of crime prevention governance; (2) Australia’s present trend in terms of crime and crime prevention; (3) analysis over Australia’s statistical data on crime; (4) crime prevention plans, programs, and techniques that were implemented or soon to be implemented, that are evidence-based; (5) the overall conclusion on to what extend has Australia developed an evidence-based crime prevention program out of its available resources and data.

Australia strives to come up with a political realignment that needs incremental reform, improved safeguards, enhanced resources, and refined procedures. Main Body Australia’s history on crime prevention Based on the studies conducted by Peter Homel in his article entitled ‘A Short History of Crime Prevention in Australia’, it is said that “The history of crime prevention in Australia has been a very stop-and-start affair” (2005, p. 356). There are projects that were successful through the use of strategies (e. g. , dealing with drug-related crime) that indirectly relate to crime and crime prevention.

However, they were not really sustainable or great enough to affect the overall crime trend. Homel narrated how an Australian citizen relayed the thought that there were much more devoted to introducing the plan or strategy than implementing them (2005, p. 356). As Homel explained, Part of the explanation for this situation lies in the fact that Australia has never had strong national leadership on crime prevention or a significant national crime prevention program. In fact, the first major national crime prevention program emerged only in 1995, with the launch of the Safer Australia initiative. (2005, p. 356)

There are factors that hamper the successful plans and strategies, such as the following: first, the continuing fragmentation between state/territory level and the national bodies; second, lack of strong national leadership and shared vision for the crime prevention goals; third, frequent changes in direction and strategic priorities across all levels of government; fourth, short-term arrangements that shift from project to program level; fifth, lack of cohesion and coordination between key agencies; sixth and final, the absence of adequate evidence base to support the dominant strategic approach (Homel, 2005, p.

355). Australia has implemented what is called the community-based crime prevention strategy for the past 20 years (Homel, 2005, p. 357). Being influenced by the ‘community development model’, this is based on the belief that crime (or any event) is strongly influenced by a series of ‘structural determinants’ like housing, employment, and education. Australia’s present trend on crime prevention The community evidenced-based solution is the trend used in Australia to counteract the spreading of crime and injustice.

It has been “the dominant feature of both national and state/territory programs operating in Australia” (Homel, 2005, p. 358). The major objective is to accomplish the following: “to establish a comprehensive state-wide partnership with local government in which local needs are identified and addressed locally by building on previous strategies and structures…” (Homel, 2005, p. 358). There are projects, such as the Strategic Framework for Community Crime Prevention, where specific projects are being designed and designated, especially for areas that are under the category of high crime.

In Western Australia, for example, a certain strategy called the ‘Crime Prevention through Environmental Design’ or CPTED has been designed, which led to the development of the ‘Designing Out Crime’, which is after an effective planning and policing implications for Western Australia for a safer and more sustainable future. The five visions for this program consists of the following: (1) supporting families, children and young people; (2) strengthening communities and revitalizing neighborhoods; (3) targeting priority offences; (4) reducing repeat offending; and (5) designing out crime and using technology (Cozens, 2005, p.

1). Western Australia is home to as much as two million citizens across a one million square miles or one-third of the Australian continent (Cozens, 2005, p. 1). With the government’s vision, which is to make the communities safer through “targeted and coordinated crime prevention and crime reduction programs” (Western Australia, 2004, p. 2), its consisting principles insist the following: (1) sustainability, (2)working better together, (3) inclusiveness, (4) targeted efforts, (5) evidence-based decision making, (6) focus on results, and (7) sharing knowledge (Western Australia, 2004, p.

2). These visions, principles, and goals are designed to politically realign the society for a stronger crime control field. Australia’s present trend on crime The present trend on crime in Australia varied based on selected major categories of violent and property crimes that are the following: (1) homicide, (2) assault, (3) sexual assault, (4) robbery, (5) kidnapping, (6) unlawful entry with intent or UEWI, (7) motor vehicle theft or MVT, and (8) other theft (Australian Institute of Criminology, 2007).

As recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics or ABS, the period from1996 to 2006 resulted to varying degrees in Australia when it comes to each of these categories. The numbers reflected numbers that went up and down the charts. Sexual assault constantly decreased from 1996 to 1999, and then it made a big leap up by 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and was still slightly increasing by 2004. Robbery made a big leap in 2001, and fell hugely by 2002, and slightly in 2003; yet it fell hugely again by 2004. UEWI constantly fell from 2000 until 2006. MVT fell hugely by 2002, up until 2006.

Lastly, other theft constantly increased from 1996 until 2001. It fell hugely by 2002, and by 2003, and still by 2004 and 2005 (Australian Institute of Criminology, 2007). It appears that, by 2006, the trend on crime in Australia was more centered on assault, sexual assault, and kidnapping, which got an increasing numbers; while homicide, robbery, UEWI, MVT, and other theft were well managed as it got decreasing numbers in the overall. Australia’s use of the evidence-based plans, programs, and techniques Australia’s crime prevention plans, programs, and techniques make use of statistical data and figures that have been recorded as evidences.

This is necessary for a stronger, more stabilized strategy and public debate that would reflect the exact numbers and places where crime appears to be more consistent. Evidence-based figures and statistics usually come from the following data: (1) offenses that have been recorded by the police; (2) the prisoners and detainees in the correctional facilities; (3) the outcomes for drug offenses; and (4) the court outcomes for aggravated property offenses (Northern Territory of Australia, Department of Justice, 2007, p. 1).

These data are collected, analyzed, and published for the community to take part in preparing and implementing strategies through community agencies, unions, and organizations for the community regional centers of government offices and institutions. As for the case of the published statistical document of the Northern Territory of Australia of the Department of Justice, the data that were gathered came from the Police Real-time On-line Management Information System, the Integrated Justice Information System, and the Northern Territory Correctional Services (NTADOJ, 2007, p.

1). However, there are many evidence-based programs that concern, not just the government, but the community citizens. One of the examples of evidence-based programs that have been implemented is the ‘Burglar Beware’ that was developed by the Office of Crime Prevention because of the high rate of residential burglary in Western Australia, and which operates in the 7 areas of Carnarvon, Geraldton, Armadale, Gosnells, Belmont, Kensington, and Cannington (Office of Crime Prevention, 2007, p. 7).

Another is ‘Eyes on the Street’ that was developed by numerous government offices (e. g. , Office of Crime Prevention) and coordinated intelligence agencies that are scattered around the country, and which operates by identifying and reporting suspicious people, vehicles, and criminal activities; plus funds and grants. Conclusion As social and political environments of countries took an abrupt and dynamic turn by the 1960s, global forces strongly influenced the changing environments of these countries, such as what happened in Australia.

In this side of the earth, crime prevention was a stop-and-start or on-and-off affair. One of the reasons may be the lack of strong national leadership, which could have made a huge influence on the improvement of crime prevention within the land. There are more issues that could have led to a weak crime prevention movement in Australia, such as the fragmentation between state and national level, lack of a solid, unified strategy and priorities, lack of cohesion and coordination, as well as the frequent shifting of short-term arrangements from project to program levels.

Having started helpful programs only in 1995, they mainly centered on the community development model, which is affected by structural determinants centered on the community. Likewise, having constructed a basic strategy that centered on the vision of making communities safer through the use of “targeted and coordinated crime prevention and crime reduction programs” (Western Australia, 2004, p. 2), the present trend of Australia nowadays shows huge general improvement.

This is true, especially in terms of homicide, robbery, UEWI, MVT, and other theft, as proven by the evidence-based data that convert numbers into plans and programs. The evidence-based crime prevention in Australia had been developed to a huge extent. However, it would be for the country’s sure victory if they try to follow a more solid and lasting strategy based on present situation and trends, and with the help of strong national leadership—as well as strong community drive and initiative—which has recently been magnified to some greater extent.

Especially that the future crime in Australia has been labeled as ‘technologically-enabled crime’ (Choo, Smith & McCusker, 2007, p. 1), Australia should shift from being a fragmented state to being a ‘unified’ state… and from executing short-lived programs to those that are long-lived and strategically substantial. Appendix Table 1 : Victims of violent crimes, 1996-2006 (number)