How to Reduce Crime?

The Department of Applied Health, sponsored by the Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice (I4P), hosted a successful public event on 24th January 2018 entitled “How is it possible to assess the effectiveness of a large-scale crime prevention policy? Some research issues and methodological challenges”.

The event was chaired and the discussion facilitated by Dr Andrew Millie, Professor of Criminology at Edge Hill University. The speakers at the event were Dr Marco Calaresu, political scientist, Assistant Professor at the University of Sassari (Italy), and Dr Moris Triventi, sociologist, Senior Assistant Professor at the University of Trento (Italy). These two scholars provided the audience with theoretical and methodological inter-disciplinary insights into the topic of crime prevention.

Dr Marco Calaresu and Dr Moris Triventi discussed how it is possible to assess the effectiveness of a large-scale crime prevention policy with an evidence-based evaluation. They assessed the impact of a large-scale security policy based on security pacts (2007-2009) on various types of crimes in Italy. They built a macro-level dataset with repeated measures for the 103 Italian provinces, covering a period spanning 2004 to 2013. They demonstrated that the results of fixed-effects panel regression models have indicated that security pacts significantly reduced thefts and micro-criminality in the cities in the largest provinces, but did not affect robberies and homicide rates.

The event wonderfully fulfilled the I4P’s values and principles of disseminating research and knowledge, along with shaping and framing policy recommendation. In their analysis, the speakers highlighted the importance of considering potential heterogeneous effects when looking at the impact of such a large-scale policy. They elaborated that security pacts were more effective in reducing both thefts and micro-criminality in the provinces with larger population size, and they argued that this could be explained by the fact that more densely populated areas and those with a higher number of cities were those which also had higher baseline crime rates before the intervention. It could be that security pacts worked particularly well in urban contexts characterized by severe problems of crime and disorder, in which a set of interventions such as those promoted by the policy have more room to be effective.

Last but not least, the event satisfied one of the four primary areas of activity of the I4P, since the invited scholars stressed limitations of the current study and scope for future directions in this area of research for faculty researchers, practitioners and professionals. A lively panel discussion led by Prof Andrew Millie’s thought-provoking comments was held at the end of the presentation. Many questions were raised stressing the importance of the implementation dosage (coverage, intensity and duration), and of the implementation theory (e.g. silent alarms to catch burglars, at the same time as publicity campaigns; geographical and functional displacement; good working relationships across partnership) for assessing the effectiveness of a large-scale crime prevention policy.

Dr Anna Bussu is a Lecturer in the Psychosocial Analysis of Offending Behaviour at Edge Hill University.