Friday, August 10, 2012

60 Steps Revisited: Step 34 - Look For Crime Facilitators

Back in 2009, I did a series of posts covering the excellent book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. The book is published by the US DOJ's Problem Oriented Policing Center (POP Center). Because of the value I think this book has for crime analysts, and policing in general, I am going to re-post this series on here on the blog.

 I have been posting about the excellent crime analysis book, Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. In this post we’re up to Step 34 - Look For Crime Facilitators.

If you have been in law enforcement for any length of time, you'll recognize that certain environmental conditions facilitate crime. For instance, a concert or festival with a free flow of alcohol, is likely to generate a rash of fights and altercations. The authors of  Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers classify crime facilitators into three types:

  • Physical facilitators are things that augment offenders' capabilities or help to overcome prevention measures. Trucks extend offenders' capacity to move stolen goods, telephones allow people to make obscene phone calls, and firearms help overcome resistance to robberies. Some physical facilitators are tools, but others are part of the physical environment. Felson and colleagues describe how the old layout of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York facilitated a variety of crimes. Types of crimes had specific ecological niches created by the variety of design features in the old station.
  • Social facilitators stimulate crime or disorder by enhancing rewards from crime, legitimating excuses to offend, or by encouraging offending. Groups of young men, for example, can provide the social atmosphere that encourages rowdy behavior at sporting events. Gangs and organized criminal networks facilitate criminal activity by their members.
  • Chemical facilitators increase offenders' abilities to ignore risks or moral prohibitions. Some offenders, for example, drink heavily or use drugs before a crime in order to decrease their nervousness.
Identifying facilitators is important because these facilitators can either create favorable conditions for crime to occur, or to make your crime reduction efforts less effective. In our example about a festival with a free flow of alcohol, the alcohol is a chemical facilitator. If you can take steps to encourage more responsible consumption among the participants, you can likely reduce the number of crimes that occur due to alcohol soaked participants.

There is a really nifty chart in Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers that offers suggestions as to the types of strategies that are most effective with the various types of facilitators. I encourage you to hit the link and read the whole chapter.

Next time, we'll cover Step 35 - Understand The Crime From Beginning To End.

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