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The Oxford Handbook of Criminology

The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (7th edn)

Alison Liebling, Shadd Maruna, and Lesley McAra
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date: 13 April 2024

p. 58727. Crime prevention as urban securitylocked

p. 58727. Crime prevention as urban securitylocked

  • Adam Adam,
  • Susan Donkin
  •  and Christine A. Weirich


This chapter reviews the learning and accumulated research evidence that has developed over the last 40 years or so with regard to crime prevention, community safety, and urban security. It begins by tracing the historic emergence of the modern ‘preventive turn’, its evolution and institutionalization within the UK, across successive waves of development. In doing so, it highlights three broad periods of change which are characterized as: the ‘early years’ of innovation and experimentation (from the late 1970s to the early 1990s); the period marked by ‘expansion and elaboration’ informed by infrastructure building and the opening up of crime prevention to incorporate wider features of community safety and perceptions of insecurity (the late 1990s to 2010); and ‘fragmentation and retrenchment’ marked by austerity and the rise of vulnerability as an organizing focus for service provision (2010 to the present). It situates the British experience in the wider context of Europe with a particular focus on urban policies, city-level strategies and delivery through multi-sectoral partnerships. This comparative framing helps to understand the particular British experience, its development, trajectories, persisting fault-lines and future challenges. Consideration is given to some of the recurring challenges that feature both across time and across jurisdictions. In particular, the question of institutional responsibility for prevention and the dissonance between the research knowledge base and contemporary policy and practice are explored.

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