Preventing Crime: A Holistic Approach

by Mark Rowe

Author: Tore Bjørgo

ISBN No: 9781137560476

Review date: 01/12/2023

No of pages: 302

Publisher: Palgrave

Publisher URL:

Year of publication: 22/08/2016


Preventing Crime A Holistic Approach by Tore Bjørgo



A Norwegian academic aims at no less than a ‘general, comprehensive model for preventing crime’. And ‘all forms of crime, from terrorism to domestic violence, youth crime, driving under the influence of alcohol … and domestic burglary’.

While theories might be all very well, the author does acknowledge ‘wishful thinking’; ‘people often have strong assumptions, based on their values and preferences, about how measures and outcomes are connected’. And those wishful thinkers can be of any political background, the political left (more youth clubs for less youth crime) or right (lock them up!). While the author does bring some systematic thinking to preventing crime, is it really feasible, we can ask, that crime done online (for instance) can be prevented, given that the criminals can be anywhere, beyond the physical practical reach of the law. Or terrorism – the author does mention the Breivik massacre in Oslo – because the terrorist can hide his intentions by being law-abiding until he shows his hand, with gun or bomb?

Police are important, but also are ‘other public agencies, voluntary organisations, businesses, schools, parents or other actors in civil society’. Crime prevention he defines early on as ‘educing the occurrence of future criminal acts and/or their harmful consequences’. He sets out nine general prevention mechanisms ‘that can, in principle, be applied to all forms of crime’:

– Establishing and maintaining normative barriers to committing criminal acts;

– Reducing recruitment to criminal social environments and activities by eliminating or reducing the social and individual causes and processes that lead to criminality;

– Deterring potential perpetrators from committing crimes through the threat of punishment;

– Disrupting criminal acts by stopping them before they are carried out;

– Protecting vulnerable targets by reducing opportunities and make it more demanding to carry out criminal acts;

– Reducing the harmful consequences of criminal acts;

– Reducing the rewards from criminal acts;

– Incapacitating (or neutralising) perpetrators by denying them the ability (capacity) to carry out new criminal acts; and

– Encouraging desistance from crime and rehabilitating former offenders so they are able to settle back into a normal life.

Photo by Mark Rowe: graffiti, Leicester city centre, summer 2016.


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