The annual conferences of the Society provide an opportunity for the members to present papers on the results of their own research projects as well as learn about the research being done elsewhere in Europe. The conferences are also an occasion where the members can meet each other and discuss on mutual research interests; the meetings have already proved to be an important platform for new pan-European research initiatives.
Panel 4:The European Crime Prevention Network will take place on 11 September between 13.00 - 14.15 CET.
1. Raising awareness in crime prevention: it never hurts, does it?
Crime prevention initiatives often takes the form of awareness-raising campaigns. There is little evidence, however, that awareness in and of itself is able to cause behaviour change, and consequently, that it can contribute much to the crime prevention. Certain types of awareness campaigns may even have adverse effects. In fact, evidence points out that effective campaigns play into affective aspects of behaviour change and are part of integrated crime prevention strategies.As an EU-wide organisation focused on sharing good practices between Member States, the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) has a bird’s-eye-view of crime prevention initiatives, both local and national, across the EU. In this presentation, I will discuss the field’s preference for awareness campaigns, list practitioner’s motivations to opt for them, and review the disadvantages of this approach in view of existing evidence. Special attention will be given to social network sites and social media. Besides giving rise to new crimes, the internet offers new opportunities for crime prevention. In practice, however, most online crime prevention initiatives are premised on awareness-raising. Finally, I will briefly introduce two recent EUCPN publications aimed at practitioners. The first canvasses the (lack of) evidence for awareness as a factor promoting crime prevention, and the second discusses the effective use of digital communications in crime prevention.
2. Community-oriented policing in the EU today
The objective is to support policymakers and practitioners in achieving a successful community-oriented policing (COP) strategy.Through an analysis of the current literature and in-depth discussions with experts, we have identified important factors for the successful implementation of COP. We have used scientific insights and experiences in the field to draw up clear and easily understandable guidelines, in the form of 10 key principles.The concept of COP has taken root in various EU Member States and is widely implemented, albeit in different forms, using different interpretations and under different labels. Essentially, adequate resources are needed to reach a common EU vision on COP: what is required is enough time and resources to tap into all the relevant scientific publications available across the EU, involve the right advisors and include community perspectives. Moreover, additional efforts should be made to understand and harness the full potential of the EU and its knowledge and experience with regard to COP. First, it is recommended that a naming convention to be used within the EU be agreed upon. Second, the large variety of languages within the EU is culturally enriching; however, it also creates a barrier to sharing existing insights across the EU. Additional efforts to translate relevant material (e.g. executive summaries of relevant studies and reports) are necessary to share knowledge more widely in the EU. Read our toolbox
3. Preventing drug-related crimes: Achieving effective behavioural change
The relationship between drugs and crime has been a persistent concern for our contemporary society. Combined with perennial worries about the state of the next generation, drug-related crimes committed by young people provide for a heated debate about what should be done to prevent this type of crime. The highly complex and politicised nature of this societal concern has led to a proliferation of all kinds of prevention activities. The goals are always laudable, yet few have thoroughly evaluated their actual behavioural outcomes. Moreover, and despite rigorous evaluation studies, ineffective and potentially harmful approaches continue to be implemented in the EU. During the second half of 2019, the Finnish Presidency turned the European Crime Prevention Network’s attention to this topic and called for evidence based approaches. This presentation will reflect on the projects that were gathered from the Member States, and showcase the toolbox that was written for practitioners working within this field. This toolbox aims to provide practical knowledge which supports practitioners in tailoring their approaches to locally identified needs and to act accordingly. Read our toolbox
4. Evaluations of crime prevention interventions. How are EU Member States doing?
Our study aimed at obtaining an overview of real evaluation practices of crime prevention activities that had been implemented in the EU. The ultimate goal was to identify possible shortcomings and gaps and make recommendations accordingly.The study employed a mixed quantitative and qualitative methodology. A questionnaire was answered by 182 respondents, and 19 participants were interviewed. A scoping review of the literature on best practices supported the final recommendations.In general, many aspects of the implementation process were not monitored. Regarding the outcomes, the results show that only 44% of the interventions were formally evaluated, while 36% were informally evaluated, and 10% not evaluated at all. This information was unknown for 10% of the cases. A small percentage of the formally evaluated interventions produced evaluations close to the best practices, but the majority showed multiple shortcomings. The evaluability of the projects was compromised in many cases since needs assessment was not performed,and program theory was not developed. The lack of knowledge in evaluation methodology, the lack of human and financial resources, and the difficulties in having access to necessary data were some of the obstacles to doing proper evaluation pointed out by the participants. The EU Member States should address these obstacles and promote the culture of evaluation in their countries in order to get close to a crime prevention practice based on evidence.