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May 16, 2018 / C H Thompson

Right realism and crime – revision notes with evaluative points

Situational crime prevention aims to design out crime through:

  • target hardening, by introducing measures to make it more difficult to steal things, such as by installing CCTV, a neighbourhood watch or alarms etc
  • crime can also be designed out by defensible space (Newman), which includes changing the design of streets or housing estates, it can make them safer by reducing the opportunities for crime.

Social control

Increasing levels of visible social control is seen to increase the costs of offending to potential offenders. Ways to increase social control is:

  • through fast track punishments of offenders and more policing and arrests being made,
  • making parents take more responsibility for their children’s actions,
  • as well as socialising them in a way that doesn’t encourage crime
  • another way is through zero tolerance policing strategy for all anti-social behaviour
  • instead of the police just reacting to crime, they should challenge even the slightest transgression in order to prevent an escalation of criminal behaviour
  • zero tolerance requires the police to place more emphasis on controlling crime on the streets, thereby keeping the law-abiding citizens safe.


(-) One of the biggest criticisms of the right realist situational crime prevention is that is doesn’t necessary reduce crime, it just displaces it. This is where crime in one area is reduced, and so instead moves elsewhere. If criminals are rational thinkers then they will respond to target hardening by moving to an area where that targeting is softer.

(-) Right realists don’t address the social causes of crime.

(-) They ignore the structural causes of crime such as poverty

(-) They don’t allow for the fact that some people may just be targeted by labelling.

(-) They assume that all crimes are rational, but what about irrational crimes with no benefit or crimes of passion.

(-) They are overly concerned with street crime and ignore corporate or white-collar crimes which may be more costly and harmful to society.

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