7 Comprehensive burglary reduction strategies

Many of the studies reported in the literature reviewed for this work were designed to assess the effectiveness of burglary reduction strategies composed of more than one intervention. Table 3 presents an overview of some of the multicomponent strategies that have been referred to in this literature review and summarises the interventions applied and the overall effectiveness of each strategy.

These strategies integrate a number of the targeted interventions described individually. These were often selected after analysis of the burglary problem in a specific area and in conjunction with other interest groups in multi-agency approaches. This is particularly true of the UK projects where a large amount of research and evaluation effort has been put into burglary reduction initiatives over the last 20 years-as in the RBI launched in 1999 as part of the CRP (nearly 250 projects funded) and the much earlier Safer Cities Programme launched in 1988 (some 3600 schemes funded, of which around 500 were aimed at tackling domestic burglary).

The scale of these national programmes has enabled comparative research into and the formulation of guidelines for:

  • multi-agency partnerships
  • comparative cost-benefit analyses
  • investigation of the impact of programme intensity
  • the role of publicity in programme outcomes.

A brief outline of each national crime reduction initiative is presented, followed by discussion of the lessons and findings of comparative studies on burglary reduction initiatives.

7.1 The Reducing Burglary Initiative

The RBI was launched in 1999 as part of the Home Office Crime Reduction Programme. The aims of the RBI were to:

  • reduce burglary nationally by targeting areas with the worst domestic burglary problems
  • evaluate the cost effectiveness of different approaches
  • find out what works best where.

Summaries of five RBI projects are included in Table 3.

Local Crime and Disorder Partnerships were invited to identify areas of 3,0005,000 households with a burglary rate at least twice the national average. Nearly 250 burglary reduction projects were funded across three phases, covering over 2.1 million households that suffered around 110,000 burglaries per annum. Activities typically included a combination of:

  • target hardening of vulnerable premises
  • 'alley-gating'
  • improved street lighting
  • high-visibility policing
  • promotion of neighbourhood/home watch
  • work with repeat victims
  • publicity campaigns/awareness raising
  • youth diversion initiatives
  • security patrols.

Three regional university consortiums have conducted evaluations of the first round of 63 RBI projects, and a range of publications have reported (and continue to report) their findings (Home Office 2004).

A summary outcome evaluation of 55 of the phase one projects compares the residential burglary rates before and after project implementation with those in comparison areas (Kodz and Pease 2003). Relative decreases were found in 40 of the projects, with relative increases in 15. The number of burglaries per month across the 55 projects was calculated to have fallen by 20%, compared to a fall of 13% in the comparison areas.

Table 3: Overview of some multicomponent burglary reduction strategies
Project Interventions Agencies involved Outcomes
Beenleigh, Brisbane

Queensland Criminal Justice Commission 2001

Pilot project: 12-month enhanced police response to residential burglary in an area with above average rate

Three-tiered response:
  • Stopbreak-to all residences broken into: security assessment, crime prevention kit including property marking kit, neighbours encouraged to upgrade security
  • Hot Dot-to repeats: specific security advice, loan of security equipment, burglary prevention kit to near neighbours, extra patrols
  • Hot Spot-all residences in area offered free home-security assessment, burglary prevention training offered to community, encouraged to form Neighbourhood Watch, increased police patrols
Police

Police project officer

Volunteers

  • Repeat victimization in Beenleigh reduced by 15%
  • Hot Spot interventions followed by short-term drop in residential burglaries, with no evidence of displacement
  • No reduction in burglaries in overall area
Tea Tree Gully and Norwood, Adelaide, SA

South Australian Crime Prevention Unit 2002

Pilot project: volunteer services to repeat burglary victims-14-month project

Aimed to provide interventions within two weeks of the offence:
  • security audit, tailored to dwelling and victim
  • informal victim support
  • referral to engravers for property marking
  • cocoon watch-through contact with neighbours and provision of burglary kits
  • referral to other support agencies if required.
Local community volunteers, screened and trained to deliver interventions

Crime Prevention Unit

Police planning, information and support

Victim Support Services

Local government

Volunteer SA

  • Overall, repeat victimization remained stable in intervention areas, but rose in control area
  • No reduction in burglaries in intervention areas
  • A promising reduction in burglaries six months after project
Safer Towns and Cities, Ashfield and Mid North Coast, NSW

Taplin et al. 2001

Introduction of burglary reduction strategies as part of standard police response-12-month project

  • Training of police officers
  • Security assessments conducted at all residences broken into
  • Follow-up including Victim Support package-by police volunteers
  • Informing of immediate neighbours
  • Increased attendance rate of fingerprinting team
  • Target hardening of victims' residences by provision of locks to those in need of assistance-repeats in one area; 'hot' spot response to all residences in other
  • Targeting of offenders
  • Public burglary reduction education campaign
Police

Volunteers-in-Police

  • Burglaries reduced by 28.8% in Ashfield and by 8.9% in Mid North Coast, compared with statewide reduction of 10.0%
  • No apparent effect on repeat victimisation
  • At follow-up, most burglary victims had improved security and were more security conscious in both project and control areas
  • Major finding: victim appreciation of increased police service offered
Boggart Hill, Killingbeck Estate, UK

Farrell, Chenery and Pease 1998

Problem-oriented crime prevention project-burglary reduction through 'crackdown and consolidation strategy'

  • Problem analysis and intervention planning
  • Initial police crackdown on known burglars-arrests
  • Target hardening of residences burgled in previous six months-additional door and window locks, strengthening of door frames
  • Continued offender focus
Leeds Safer Cities

Leeds Department of Housing Services

Local councillor

Community good neighbours scheme

Police

  • Burglaries in Boggart Hill reduced by 60%-attributed largely to arrests
  • Repeat burglaries reduced by 35%
  • No evidence of burglary displacement to surrounding areas or to other types of crime, but diffusion of benefits (up to 50% burglary reduction in surrounding areas)
Cambridge, UK

Bennett and Durie 1999

Crime audit and partnership approach to reducing residential burglary-14-month project

  • Crime audit/data- gathering phase-crime pattern analysis, offender residence analysis, local burglar interviews, environmental survey, repeat burglary victim survey, household survey
  • Identification of 'hot' spots
  • Consultation with local agencies to formulate appropriate local strategies

Programme implemented in identified 'hot' locations and 'hot' spots

Potential victims:
  • cocoon Neighbourhood Watch-victims
  • loan alarm-victims
  • security advice-fact sheets and free home surveys- to victims
  • free security upgrades available to those at risk-pensioners, single parents, etc.-as well as to victims
  • additional external security gates fitted to access ways
  • 'Beat the Burglar' security pack to all area residents

Potential capable guardians:

  • Post Watch-postal workers
  • enhanced existing Neighbourhood Watch
  • targeted police patrols
  • increased public awareness through seminars and information

Potential offenders:

  • Youth Development-intensive support and focused activities-through youth workers
Domestic Burglary Task Force-representing City and County Councils, police, Probation Service, Victim Support, Cambridge University

Police

Council project worker

Detached community development youth workers

  • Reduction of burglaries in targeted 'hot' locations and 'hot' spot
  • Reduction of repeats in one targeted location
  • But, burglary reduced in Cambridge at same time
  • Low uptake of services-approximately 20% of victims

Evaluation concluded that programme contained the right elements to be effective, but was of insufficient intensity to make an impact-right medicine, wrong dosage.

Huddersfield, UK

Biting Back initiative

Chenery et al. 1997

Preventing repeat burglary and motor vehicle crime as a standard mode of crime prevention in a policing area

  • Research phase-data gathering
  • Creating effective partnerships with local authorities
  • Training for police

Three-tiered response to victims (Olympic model):

  • victim letter, with property marking kit
  • cocoon Neighbourhood Watch
  • rapid repair and security upgrade
  • victim support
  • security audits
  • police patrols
  • offender targeting
  • loan of silent alarms to repeat victims.
Metropolitan Council

Victim Support

Huddersfield University

Police

  • Thirty percent reduction in residential burglary
  • Twenty percent reduction in motor vehicle crime
  • Reduced levels of repeat burglaries
  • Increased arrests from temporary alarms by 10%
  • No evidence of burglary displacement
  • Improved quality of service to victims
Kirkholt Project, UK

Forrester et al. 1988, 1990

Burglary prevention demonstration project based on problem-solving approach in high-burglary-risk housing estate

Phase 1:
  • data gathering-burglar, victim and neighbour interviews; community organizations
  • problem-solving with relevant agencies
  • removal of cash pre-payment gas meters (frequent targets)
  • target hardening for burglary victims-based on individual assessment of dwelling vulnerability
  • cocoon Neighbourhood Watch
  • property marking
  • community project support workers-victim support and agency referrals

Phase 2 (Sept.'88-Mar.'90):

Continuation of Phase 1 interventions plus community crime prevention initiatives which included:

  • establishing Home Watch groups
  • probation group work programme
  • community clean-up campaigns with community service offenders
  • schools crime prevention project
Police

Probation Service

Local Housing Authority Department

Gas and electricity authorities

Local victim support organisation

Manpower Services Commission

Community involvement in local crime prevention group

Schools

  • Seventy-five percent reduction in residential burglary over duration of project
  • No evidence of burglary displacement with 24% reduction of residential burglary in remainder of the housing subdivision
  • Eighty percent reduction in repeat burglaries in Phase 1 (not specifically reported for Phase 2 of the project)
  • Victimisation of tenants who had lived at their current address for a year or less rose by 19%; compared with almost 50% reduction for those 10 years or more at their current address
  • The Weds/Thurs peak in burglaries practically disappeared with removal of coin-fed meters
Rochdale, UK

Home Office 2003a
Findings 204, Supplement 1

RBI project in a multi-ethnic area with a high burglary rate-area scores high on social deprivation index and has frequent turnover of residents

  • Raising awareness of crime prevention through a publicity campaign (leaflets in four languages)
  • Improving household security (target hardening) of victims of burglary within three days
  • increasing community involvement through Homewatch schemes
  • providing an arrest drug referral scheme after initial assessment-voluntary participation in drug programme
Police with in partnership with:
  • Local Council
  • Victim Support
  • Housing Association

Jointly-staffed project-police and local authority Community Safety Officer

Target hardening by Victim Support volunteers

  • Net fall in the number of burglaries of 37%, when controlling for burglary trends in the rest of the police force area
  • Seven new HomeWatch schemes established
  • Successfully fostered community involvement, not just in burglary reduction but also in community integration
Fordbridge, Solihull, UK

Home Office 2003b
Findings 204, Supplement 2

RBI project area in four wards with significant economic and social difficulties-with areas of high density housing rented from local authority

  • Target hardening vulnerable properties
  • Installing of alley-gates
  • Installing of electronic entry systems for multi-dwelling properties
  • Improving street lighting
  • Providing access to leisure facilities for young people-in the 'open' environment and in organised leisure facilities
  • Doing outreach work with local young people
Multi-agency Focus Group jointly chaired by police and local Head of Housing, involving:
  • Other local authorities
  • Local elected members
  • Police
  • Community members
  • Net fall in the number of burglaries of 12%, when controlling for burglary trends in the rest of the police force area
  • Possible small geographic and crime type displacements
  • Impact of youth interventions not able to be evaluated, but uptake of opportunities evident
Yew Tree, Sandwell, UK

Home Office 2003c
Findings 204, Supplement 3

RBI project in two economically deprived estates that are geographically isolated from other urban areas by a canal and a major motorway

  • Targeting known offenders: police crackdown using eviction orders, high visibility policing, bail enforcement, antisocial behaviour orders
  • Property marking, micro-chip tracking system
  • Community involvement schemes: police/community radio system, increase in the number of Neighbourhood Watch schemes
  • Tackling repeat victimisation: database of identified repeat victims
  • Environmental improvements: architectural surveys locating crime 'hot' spots, establishment of Secure by Design protocols for building developments and environmental work
  • Youth diversion initiatives: Garden creation scheme, football coaching, summer play scheme trips
  • Publicity strategy: crime prevention campaign and broadcast/newspaper media approach
Police-led project

Partnerships with:

  • Local Housing Authority
  • Local Planning Authority
  • Local Health Authority
  • Councillor
  • Community-Neighbourhood Watch
  • Community artist
  • Net fall in the number of burglaries of 39%, when controlling for burglary trends in the rest of the police force area
  • Seventeen offenders targeted, 15 charged
  • Evidence of geographical and crime type displacement
Stirchley, Birmingham, UK

Home Office 2003d
Findings 204, Supplement 4

RBI project in nine residential streets of two-storey terraces and old semi-detached housing-burglary rate twice national average

  • Installation of alley gates
  • Improvements to fences
  • Property marking
  • Publicity campaign, through a newsletter
Police and city council

Consultation with residents

  • Burglary in the target area fell by 46% when comparing the number of burglary incidents during 1998 with the number in 2000
  • Initially some displacement to neighbouring areas, but on completion of alley-gating burglaries fell further in target area and surrounding buffer areas
Stockport, UK

Home Office 2003e
Findings 204, Supplement 8

RBI project in three police beats identified as areas with high levels of crime, disorder, deprivation and truancy

  • Police crackdown on prolific offenders
  • Target hardening of vulnerable properties-new and repeat victims, elderly, single parents, private housing renters, those new to the area
  • Offender-based interventions to reduce recidivism on release from prison
  • Publicity campaign on crackdown-also TV footage and on websites
  • Stand-alone crime prevention publicity campaigns-leaflets and info packs
Burglary Reduction Management Group with representatives from Police, Victim Support, local council

Police Burglary Response Unit

Victim support-target hardening

Local housing authority

  • Burglary in the target area fell by 14% when comparing the number of burglary incidents during the years of 1999 and 2001
  • Stolen property worth £100,000 was recovered
  • Seventeen arrests in crackdown phase
  • Limited uptake of offender interventions-focus on those resident in area too narrow
  • Evidence to suggest diffusion of benefits into other policing areas

7.2 Safer Cities

Launched by the Home Office in 1988 with £30 million of funding, the Safer Cities programme formed part of Action for Cities, a wider government programme aimed at tackling socio-economic problems within areas of urban deprivation. Covering 20 areas, Safer Cities funded some 3,600 schemes addressing a wide range of crime problems through a multi-agency problem-solving approach. Around 500 of the schemes were aimed at tackling domestic burglary. Schemes generally focused on target hardening measures and/or the encouragement of community-based action such as neighbourhood watch, property marking, and awareness raising.

Two evaluations of the burglary schemes have been conducted. Ekblom, Law and Sutton (1996) conducted a large-scale analysis of the 300 schemes underway or completed by summer 1992. Outcomes were measured in two ways:

  • via 7,500 before and after interview surveys, in over 400 high-crime areas in eleven 'safer cities' and eight comparison cities
  • via police crime statistics from 700 police beats covering 240 of the schemes, together with city-level statistics in nine comparison cities.

The survey results offered compelling evidence as to the effectiveness of Safer Cities interventions in reducing domestic burglary, findings that were backed up by police data.

Tilley and Webb (1994) examined in more detail the operation and effectiveness of 11 projects that focused on reducing residential burglary with varying degrees of success. Their report is somewhat equivocal about the effectiveness of targeting repeat victims and at-risk households. Area-based measures were successful for fairly high-dosage interventions in small areas and comprehensive approaches to target hardening using specialist advice were beneficial. This report also raises concerns about multi-agency working, finding that multi-agency groups are complex and problematic. Nevertheless, the evaluation overall concluded that focused, high-intensity, multicomponent packages could be effective.

7.3 Lessons learned from these initiatives

7.3.1 Partnerships

The projects of the RBI were initiated by multi-agency partnerships and the experiences of those involved demonstrate that, while the crime reduction benefits are considerable, working in partnership is complex and demanding. A significant number of the projects experienced implementation problems which included:

  • establishing commitment amongst partner agencies
  • identifying the nature of the burglary problem
  • recruiting skilled and experienced project personnel
  • ensuring community involvement and accountability
  • monitoring progress (Kodz and Pease 2003).

Jacobson (2003) has put forward key points on what needs to be in place to support partnerships to work effectively, learning drawn from research into the successes and problems of the partnerships involved in 21 of the RBI projects. Three essential prerequisites to effective partnership working were identified as a good practice framework.

  • Knowledge-Knowledge refers to the information that a partnership requires about the crime problem being addressed. The framework highlights the need to adopt a problem-solving approach and go through all stages of the problem-solving process-SARA. Most partnerships were committed to this approach in principle but not always in practice.
  • Commitment-Whilst there was widespread recognition of the importance of partnership working, levels of practical commitment varied. Partners variously believed that they:

- lacked the capacity to engage in partnership work

- had differing agendas

- had difficulties balancing partnership and 'day-to-day' work

- felt a lack of ownership.

Addressing such issues requires that efforts are made to:

- engage all partners from the outset

- clarify expected inputs from each partner

- encourage open airing of the inevitable tensions and grievances

- encourage intra- as well as inter-partnership consultation to build genuine ownership within agencies

- highlight the benefits of partnership working for each partner.

  • Capacity-Identification of the capacity of each partner to contribute to the project is a crucial part of project planning. Regardless of how they are funded, the majority of crime reduction projects require the following resources from partners:

- staff time for strategic and operational work

- staff with the necessary skills and aptitude

- scope for contracting out packages of work

- access to appropriate equipment and facilities

- access to specific information.

7.3.2 The role of publicity

Publicising burglary prevention initiatives may be an important component of a strategy, enhancing the overall impact both by enhancing community awareness and participation and by influencing offenders' perceptions of the risks, the effort required and the probability of decreased returns. For example, an effective publicity campaign and positive media coverage were included in Stockdale and Gresham's (1995) list of the key elements of a successful antiburglary strategy, and a safer cities evaluation reported that well-publicised projects were more likely to be effective (Ekblom, Law and Sutton 1996).

Evaluation of RBI projects supports this. Approximately half of the 21 schemes studied by one evaluation consortium set up local stand-alone publicity campaigns and these schemes tended to be the most successful at reducing burglary, with a clear relationship between the timing and intensity of the publicity and the burglary reduction outcomes (Johnson and Bowers 2003). An 'anticipatory benefit' was observed across 42 schemes, with a significant reduction in burglary in the three months prior to project implementation. The authors suggest that this effect was, at least in part, due to pre-implementation publicity and that publicising burglary reduction projects can, in itself, reduce burglaries. There was no comparative analysis of the types of publicity used and their relative effectiveness, and the report warns that 'consideration should be given to the message delivered-not all publicity is good publicity' (Johnson and Bowers 2003, 4).

7.3.3 Displacement of crime and the diffusion of benefits

In implementing targeted crime prevention and policing initiatives there is a concern that one of the effects may be to simply deflect offenders to other areas, other targets or other types of offending. Alternatively, focused crime prevention activity may result in a 'positive' displacement, a diffusion of benefits, and reduce offending in other geographical areas or crimes (Clarke and Weisburd 1994).

Evaluations of the RBI projects concluded that the total gains achieved across the projects were not at the expense of displacing crime into other areas (Kodz and Pease 2003). Accurate measurement of crime displacement to other geographical areas and to other crimes is demanding and beyond the scope of data available to many evaluations. Bowers, Johnson and Hirschfield (2003) undertook a detailed study of crime displacement in one of the RBI projects, developing tools and techniques to analyse the impact of the scheme. They found evidence of some geographical displacement of burglary into surrounding areas as well as the diffusion of benefits into one area in the close vicinity of the project and to untreated households within the project area. Some offenders may have switched to other types of crime, with theft from cars increasing significantly in the area, but not to theft from persons or car theft. This study highlights the power of using a finely detailed level of analysis in assessing the impact of targeted burglary reduction schemes: a substantial impact on the burglary rate was found for the sub-area in which the interventions were almost exclusively focused, while the change in the burglary rate for the larger scheme area was relatively modest.

Hesseling's (1994) review of 55 published studies which looked specifically for evidence of displacement concluded that displacement is not inevitable, and that if displacement occurs, it will be limited in scope. Most of these studies evaluated the impact of crime prevention initiatives that aimed to:

  • increase the effort required to offend (e.g. target hardening)
  • increase the risks of offending (e.g. increase enforcement and surveillance)
  • reduce the rewards of offending (e.g. make it more difficult to dispose of goods)
  • implement a combination of these strategies.

(These studies were not focused on burglary but covered a range of offence types including burglary.) Among the 40% of published studies which found no displacement effect were initiatives using a combination of crime prevention strategies and where the strategies were implemented throughout a whole geographical area. In those reporting some form of displacement, it was found to be quite limited in extent.

Hesseling also reviews six studies with known or imprisoned offenders who were asked how they reacted when they were unable to commit a particular crime. As many as two-thirds of the offenders interviewed in these groups indicated that they would seek alternative targets or other crimes. In most cases, this reported displacement was to the use of different tactics, times or places but was essentially to the same type of crime (e.g. from burglary to other property crimes). Hesseling suggested that those at the beginning of their offending career would probably be much more easily discouraged from crime than offenders in these interview studies who had extensive criminal histories.

The findings of Hesseling's review suggest that including a strategy of targeting known offenders as one part of a crime prevention initiative could substantially decrease any crime displacement that may occur. This suggestion is supported by the outcomes of, for example, the Boggart Hill (Farrell, Chenery and Pease 1998) and the Huddersfield Biting Back burglary reduction initiatives (Chenery et al. 1997), which are described in other sections of this literature review and outlined in Table 3. It is also supported by the crime displacement and the diffusion of benefit impacts from Operation Anchorage, a policing operation targeting property crime offenders in Canberra in 2001, reported by Ratcliffe and Makkai (2004). Their research found no displacement of crime, either spatially or by crime type, and found a diffusion of benefits, with significant reductions in both property and car crime in the parts of NSW which surround the ACT and therefore were outside the area covered by the operation. They suggest that a combination of deterrence, discouragement and the incapacitation of prolific offenders as a result of the operation may be able to account for this 'free policing benefit' for NSW. A deterrent effect could arise from offender perception of the increased risks of arrest during the targeting operation, and discouragement from the perceived need to put more effort into offending successfully with less likelihood of reward. Both perceptions, according to rational choice theory (Cornish and Clarke 1986-cited in Hough and Tilley 1998), make it likely that offenders will choose to modify their criminal behaviour.

Looking for evidence of displacement in the Safer Cities projects, Ekblom, Law and Sutton (1996) observed that, whilst there was some displacement where crime prevention activity was of low intensity, for medium and high intensities the opposite was the case, with a 'diffusion of benefits' to outlying areas.

7.3.4 Programme intensity

Crime prevention initiatives vary in the levels of activity occurring over time, also referred to as the intensity of the programme. Intensity can be thought of as the amount that is put into a project (input measures, e.g. the funds spent in a particular area) and also as the number of programme outcomes that are implemented (output measures, e.g. number of houses target hardened). Both measures can be correlated to the degree of burglary reduction a project achieves. Evaluation of the Safer Cities projects, which were classified as low, medium or high intensity based on the amount of funding per household, found that low intensity schemes reduced the burglary risk by 10%, medium intensity schemes by 22%, and high intensity schemes by 43%, compared with a 3% risk increase in the comparison cities (Ekblom, Law and Sutton 1996).

Evaluations of RBI projects indicated that 'dosage', or intensity of project activity, and speed of implementation had an impact on burglary reduction outcomes. One evaluation concluded that it may be the intensity of action per se which has the greatest impact, rather than any specific intervention. More detailed analysis of 21 RBI projects by Bowers, Johnson and Hirschfield (2004) found that while the success of a scheme in reducing burglary can be directly, and positively, related to overall project intensity, it is the intensity of actual implementation of measures on the ground that significantly predicts any changes in burglary rate. The study also suggests that although the most successful schemes were also the most intense, this did not necessarily make them the most cost-beneficial. While these findings may seem obvious-the success of a programme depends more on the amount of action that is taken (outputs) than on the amount of resourcing (inputs)-the study appears to be the first that has exhaustively documented and analysed both the resourcing (including contributions in kind, sunk costs, training, travel etc.) and the implementation of 'deliverables' to construct measures of input and output intensity to test hypotheses about burglary outcomes.

7.3.5 Cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit

Research on the impact of burglary reduction interventions has concentrated primarily on whether or not an intervention effectively reduces burglaries, rather than on cost-effectiveness (the cheapest way of preventing burglaries) or cost-benefit analysis (whether the costed benefits of preventing burglary are greater or smaller than the costs of the intervention).

Cost-benefit analysis of the Safer Cities burglary reduction projects in aggregate estimated that around 56,000 burglaries were prevented by the schemes, with a resultant saving to the state of £31 million-roughly the cost of the initiative (Ekblom, Law and Sutton 1996).

The RBI projects have been examined from a cost analysis perspective, with evidence that the benefits generated by the projects considered in aggregate exceeded the costs (Bowles and Pradiptyo 2004). Economic evaluation was an integral part of the brief given to each evaluation consortium. Bowles and Pradiptyo have subjected the data generated by these evaluations to cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses. Their study is limited by the diversity of intervention and degree of implementation across the RBI projects evaluated and by variations in the way project impacts have been estimated. Efforts at cost-benefit analysis by intervention type were compromised by these variations and also by the absence of estimates of future benefits. This skews economic analysis in favour of short-term crime prevention initiatives that will give quick results, and against longer-term interventions aimed at criminality prevention.

With these provisos, the study yielded a generalised conclusion that projects with a benefit/cost ratio greater than one were those where the principle interventions were:

  • location-specific (target hardening of households)
  • stakeholding (publicity and educational campaigns, watch schemes and resident involvement)
  • enforcement- and offender-focused (directed policing, intelligence, disrupting offender behaviour).

The remaining interventions were characterised as:

  • area-wide (environmental or CPTED improvements)
  • offender-based schemes (diversion, drug rehabilitation and offender treatment programmes)
  • property marking
  • other (victim support, improved management and interagency working).

This second group of interventions includes those which cannot be expected to give quick reduction in burglary but which can plausibly contribute to longer-term solutions to burglary problems. For example, the American cost-benefit analysis of offender and non-offender treatment programmes (Aos et al. 2001) shows that specifically targeted programs can cost-effectively reduce criminality. (It is intended to extend this analysis to include the effectiveness of other crime prevention approaches, including policing resourcing and practice.)