Local Governments Role in Crime Prevention Introduction In order to provide an effective response to crime, and to explore the role of the Australian local government in crime prevention, it is crucial to understand the philosophy underlying the subject. The present study focuses on local governments role in crime prevention with specific reference to arrangements in NSW and explores future directions for local government involvement in crime prevention. Local Governments’ Role in Crime Prevention It should be taken into consideration that crime is, first of all, a local issue in vital respects. Even in urban conditions, the vast majority of crime is intra-group and intra-community in its nature. The most detrimental and visible impacts of crime are observed at a local community level, for example, in the felt desire of the residents in some local communities to make their homes fortresses, in the desertion of public space due to fear of crime, or in the deterioration of public amenities (such as public telephones, parks, etc), to mention a few. As this occurs, crime becomes significant symbol of the sense of powerlessness, anomies and isolation felt in the face of unpredictable and alien forces. At the same time, the official responsibility to develop effective solutions to this problem and to respond to it is mainly laid on the central institutions of the Australian government (predominantly, Australian state governments), while the role of local governments in Australia is often debated.
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Due to this, influence and control exercised over crime (and crime prevention efforts) are mostly indirect and/ or limited by the increasingly bureaucratic and remote nature of the modern Australian democratic government. Therefore, the subject at issue (namely, crime and crime prevention strategies) in the light of these aspects leads to the perennial dilemma of the government. Evidently, communities, organizations and individuals have varying capacities enabling them to effectively address crime problems. This somewhat vague conception implies the totality of various measures, both formal and informal, such as various measures of punishment, treatment, discipline, and compensation, to mention a few. These domains of private justice have critical relevance to prevention of crime in Australia. In such a way, it is important to understand that these institutions can provide a locus of crime prevention strategies.
So, what is the local governments role in crime prevention? Local governments pursue an objective to provide a better understanding of issues related to crime and crime prevention by dissemination of the information concerning the nature of local crime problems (Cherney, Crime prevention/ community Safety partnerships in Action: Victorian experience 2004).
One of the long-term directions for local government involvement in crime prevention is to encourage the understanding of the role played by the local governments as a valuable resource with great potential for effective and adequate response to local crime issues. The local governments also strive to encourage the recognition of the future potential to devolve greater authority and resources to the Australian local communities, equipping them with the resources and knowledge enough to provide effective response to local crime problems and enabling them with the ability to develop adequate crime prevention measures. It should be taken into account that the local governments act as the agents of the Australian government as they are closer to local crime problems (Cherney and Sutton, Crime prevention in Australia: Beyond ‘what works?’ 2007).
Local governments also act as a regulatory agency to various local activities, such as measures, a provider of resources, an advocate in relation to other government’s levels, and a catalyst for effective community initiatives in crime prevention. Finally, local governments can be more effective in their efforts to place an emphasis on crime prevention measures, instead of focusing solely on reactive law enforcement initiatives.
... should be conducted in the areas of government participation. To take community crime prevention to the next level, local government should consider formalising or enforcing requirements ... this paper will be based upon different crime prevention strategies implemented by members of the communities, local and government authorities. It will focus mainly on ...
As far as the present study is mainly focused on the initiatives within the New South Wales context, it should be also noted that crime prevention is impacted by the local settings, opportunities and problems within this specific area. The local governments take active part in crime prevention initiatives. For example, Fairfield City Councils active involvement in the administration of Community Service Orders implies developing the cooperative arrangement between the park engineers of the Fairfield City Council and the local Probation and Parole Service (Hogg 2007).
This initiative implied the provision of supervised work for a small group of offenders sentenced to community service orders” thus becoming an area where the services and organization of the council could be adjusted to a specific need, urging the council for a cooperative arrangement with another local agency. Another crime prevention initiative involved the Development Control Plan (DCP) for community crime prevention. It was prepared in Waverley under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulations 1980 (NSW) and was approved by the Land and Environment Court (Dahl 1990).
Under this plan, there was provided a set of guidelines for developers for the design of the buildings and their surroundings to reduce crime opportunities to the lowest possible minimum.
This plan also aimed to popularize the initiatives of the Council with regards to crime prevention in the maintenance of its parks, public buildings, gardens, etc. Finally, the major component of this plan involved the provision of advice to the residents concerning the maintenance of the physical environment to minimize crime opportunities. As it was already mentioned, in New South Wales crime prevention strategies are rendered via a wide range of initiatives. The vast majority of them is managed by the NSW Police, the Crime Prevention Division of the NSW Attorney General’s Department, and the Community Solutions initiative of the NSW Premier’s Department. All these initiatives are aimed to encourage participation and involvement within the local community, predominantly through delivery resources directly to the NSW local communities, and through the local government authorities’ involvement. The New South Wales experience may serve as a perfect illustration, proving that crime prevention should be not only a national concern, but local concern as well.
... for Crime Prevention in Nigeria, the causes of crime as well as the role of the community in combating the crime, especially Kaduna state. Communities have ... provide this. Oshio (2009) states that normally, citizens expect their governments to provide them with political stability and socio-economic security ...
NSW experience also proves that the local governments may play crucial role in crime prevention strategies and are conductive to the delivery of effective crime prevention outcomes for communities. (Homel 2005) According to Homel (2005), the NSW Crime Prevention Division was founded in 1995 as the Juvenile Crime Prevention Division. Soon after it was established, it was transformed into the NSW Crime Prevention Council (Bryson and Mowbray 1981) aimed to provide advice and recommend funding for local community crime prevention projects, seminars, conferences, and training programmes. (Homel 2005) However, there were a number of initiatives that resulted in no or little success. For example, the Server Intervention Programs (SIPs) in Waverley, which was developed to promote more acceptable models of drinking, the strategies developed in Fairfield concerning the car theft, and many others. The failures occurred mainly due to inadequate planning or lack of subsequent development and control. What concerns future directions for local government involvement in crime prevention, the local governments should place more emphasis on developing a consistent and subsequent series of coordinated partnerships between the agencies across all levels. Such approach to crime prevention is rather general than unique, however, it still needs a relatively high level of mutual or shared responsibility for performance and results, and high level of policy (Gant and Grabosky 2000).
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Local governments also need to develop effective strategies to combat the lack of sympathy and understanding for crime prevention approaches through provision of the adequate advance education of the target groups, and to develop more effective partnership arrangements in voluntary/non-government sector, private sector and other levels of government. It is also very important to facilitate communication across bureaucratic structures, as far as vertically integrated councils’ structure places obstacles on the way to success. Special attention should be paid to the influence of the increasing commitment to the usage and adoption of “whole of government” models used to develop and implement crime prevention methods, possible application of the urban renewal model, which is also effective in strengthening and broadening of the community-based crime prevention initiatives, as well as the changing role of Australian police in crime prevention strategies. Finally, the local governments should make all possible efforts to develop adequate evidence bases aimed to support effective crime prevention practice. However, in order not to fall fallen well short of expectations, future research should be done to develop, articulate, and implement relevant strategies. Bibliography Bryson, L., and M. Mowbray.
“Community : the spray-on solution.” Australian Journal of Social Issues 16, no. 4 (1981): 255. Cherney, A. “Crime prevention/ community Safety partnerships in Action: Victorian experience.” Current issues in criminal justice 15, no. 3 (2004): 237-252. Cherney, A., and A. Sutton.
“Crime prevention in Australia: Beyond ‘what works?’.” The Australian and New Zealand journal of Criminology 40, no. 1 (2007): 65-82. Dahl, R.A. After the Revolution. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. Gant, F., and P. Grabosky. The promise of crime prevention.
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2000. Hogg, R. Crime Prevention and Local Government in New South Wales. 2007. www.aic.gov.au/publications/proceedings/15/hogg.pd f (accessed May 15, 2008).
Homel, P. “A Short History of Crime Prevention in Australia.” Canadian journal of criminology and criminal justice 47, no.
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