Estimating Prevention Benefits

An alternative to arrest and prosecution is to consider the benefits of a crime prevention approach. As opposed to addressing crime problems at the lower levels of the crime funnel, crime prevention is designed to work at the top of the funnel. While the number of crimes reported to police is only a small proportion of the actual offences, their geographic dispersion is a reasonable indication of the likely concentration of the larger ‘dark figure’ of crime. Therefore, the true value of offences reported to police may be seen as indicators to the bigger problem.


If it were possible to initiate a policy that had a 10 per cent reduction in actual offences that affect the public, the crime funnel could be used to estimate the impact across the criminal justice system. As shown in Table 8.2, the impact of a reduction in crime flows down the crime funnel. Therefore, reducing the number of offences has the corollary of reducing the crimes reported to police, the number recorded and detected by them, the number of people going through the courts, and the size of the jail population. A cost-effective outcome all round.


Crime prevention is therefore the key to long-term crime control, but greater crime prevention can also improve our ability to bring serious and prolific offenders to justice. The scenario above paints a picture of an approach to the crime problem that suggests smaller jail populations and fewer court delays. Swifter justice and greater availability of prison space increases capacity to remove prolific and serious offenders from the general population, and with fewer arrests police could concentrate on these serious, recidivist offenders.

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