The 5Is Framework for crime prevention, security and community safety

5Is is both an advanced process model and a knowledge capture framework. It aims to improve performance, scope and delivery of preventive, security and community safety action, enabling smarter responses with reduced resources.

5Is applies to all of crime prevention, security and community safety, covering both situational and offender-oriented approaches, service-like approaches and project-based ones.

  • Highlights the importance of process models and knowledge capture frameworks
  • Introduces the 5Is Framework and sets out the structure of the 5Is process model
  • Explains how 5Is can be used as a knowledge capture framework, with links to guidance
  • Explains the sophistication and adaptability of 5Is, plus its origin

Other pages cover:

The importance of process models and knowledge capture frameworks

Process models

  • Training practitioners
  • Guiding them on-the-job
  • Structuring and assessing bids for crime prevention action funding
  • Monitoring, managing and improving the quality of their work during planning and execution
  • Making routine process evaluation more efficient and systematic
  • Facilitating intelligent, context- and problem-sensitive replication and innovation from success stories, and learning/ salvaging from failures

Knowledge capture frameworks

Knowledge capture frameworks are important for:

  • Capturing, organising, consolidating and sharing practice knowledge
  • Enabling retrieval and selection of good practice from case studies and knowledge bases
  • Refining and extending the process models themselves through reflective practice, research, experimentation and evaluation
  • Feeding into theory and evaluation

What is the 5Is Framework?

5Is is an advanced framework for capturing, consolidating and sharing knowledge of good practice in crime prevention. It aims to improve performance, scope and delivery of that practice locally, nationally and internationally, enabling smarter responses with reduced resources. It is applicable to all of crime prevention, covering both situational and offender-oriented approaches, and service-like approaches as well as project-based ones.

The 5Is has wider applicability, e.g. for constituting the core schema underlying crime prevention education and training, guiding researchers on process evaluation, structuring and assessing bids for crime prevention action funding and managing and monitoring crime prevention projects. 5Is may also be adaptable to other practice areas such as public health or wider social innovation.

The 5Is covers five interlinked task streams:

Intelligence, Intervention, Implementation, Involvement and Impact.

5Is is deliberately more sophisticated than alternative approaches to knowledge management in crime prevention. Its fundamental tenet is that trainers, programme managers and researchers have grossly over-simplified the guidance they give to practitioners on the mistaken assumption that practitioners do not want, and cannot handle, anything more sophisticated.

5Is is based on the axiom that in order to help practitioners address a real-world domain that is messy and complex in itself (as practitioners know in their every working day), the frameworks they are given as tools for thinking and communication should themselves be sufficiently subtle and sophisticated. In parallel with leading designer Donald Norman, 5Is follows the principle of ‘appropriate complexity’.

The 5Is Framework is also designed to be flexible and adaptive, able to describe the complex ‘stories’ of crime prevention activity. In this way, practitioners can be helped to better formulate and clarify their own problems; select appropriate action to emulate; and either replicate this action intelligently customised to context, or innovate based on first principles.

The vision is of practitioners who are more like consultants with experience and organised principles at their fingertips, and less like technicians with limited diagnostic and response repertoires.

5Is process model – structure

5Is is organised as a sequence of five interlinked task streams for undertaking action in crime prevention, security and community safety. They emphasise the bringing together of evidence and experience – covering the crime problem, the context, what works and how to realise it. This often involves a range of different people or organisations being mobilised or acting in partnership with ‘professional’ crime preventers.

These are the five task streams:

Intelligence, Intervention, Implementation, Involvement, Impact

These task streams are described in more detail below, along with illustration of the kinds of knowledge which can be captured under each.

The hierarchy diagram below shows the four levels of detail graphically:

The task streams form an idealised sequence of steps; however, in practice the order may not be so linear; it may even be recursive or iterative. For example, it may be necessary to establish a multi-agency Partnership (under Involvement) before information contributing to Intelligence can be exchanged. And likewise, in order to identify appropriate partners and to negotiate the possibility of Involving them in joint action, it may be necessary to gather Intelligence about them.

5Is – task streams and tasks

INTELLIGENCE is about gathering and analysing information on:
INTERVENTION is about blocking, disrupting or weakening the causes of criminal events. Interventions are described at three levels:
IMPLEMENTATION is about converting the intervention principles and methods into practical action on the ground. It covers:
  • Inputs of funds and human resources
  • Process describing practical actions taken such as targeting on offenders, victims, buildings, places and products, planning, management, organisation, monitoring and quality-assurance
  • Outputs (actions implemented in the real world (e.g. numbers and quality of houses receiving security equipment, young people attending youth club)
  • Handling of ethical issues

To guide the selection and planning of action, the basic information listed below needs to be determined:

  • Over what timescale and what geographical scale the action is designed to operate (e.g. does it deliver a short, medium or long-term impact on crime? Is it a local, regional, national or international intervention?)
  • At what ‘ecological level’ the action operates – individual, family, peer group, community, market, network, society
  • The tradeoffs the action has with other policy values (e.g. with privacy, energy consumption, bureaucracy, justice) and how they were resolved in the context in question
  • The scope of the action – whether it tackles a narrow range of crime types or a broad range
  • The coverage of the action on the ground – how much of the crime problem it can tackle (e.g. is it cost-effective only in high-crime areas, or all areas?)
INVOLVEMENT is about the ‘people and organisations’ side of action. It covers:

In both cases specifying:

  • Who were involved
  • What broad roles or specific tasks they undertook
  • How they were alerted, motivated, empowered or directed (e.g. respectively by publicity campaigns, financial incentives or sanctions, security advice, standards or objectives)
  • How a broadly supportive climate was created in the community and how any hostility (for example to the police) was reduced
IMPACT and PROCESS evaluation specify the kinds of evaluation desired (first box below) and the information to be assembled for planning and undertaking them (second box below):
  • The nature of the evaluation itself (how the project was assessed, by whom; whether this was a reliable, systematic and independent evaluation; and what kind of evaluation design and statistical tests were used)
  • Impact results focusing on the ultimate outcome how much crime reduction was achieved and how much community safety was improved (e.g. through reduced fear of crime); what interventions worked, and if possible how they worked (the causal mechanisms believed to have been activated)
  • Intermediate outcomes (e.g. ‘change in attitude of young people to the ownership of property’ – a first step on the path to the ultimate outcome of crime reduction)
  • Process evaluation results can be described for each of the 5Is tasks – including information helpful for replication (what problems and tradeoffs were faced in each of the tasks, and how they were resolved); what worked for each of the other tasks (e.g. which methods of involvement were successful)
  • Outcome; Cost-effectiveness; whether benefits significantly outweigh costs; whether the action has any serious undesirable side-effects (e.g. increasing fear of crime)
  • Sustainability of actions in effectiveness, financial, and Human Resource terms – how long the intervention can be maintained, how long the impact lasts
  • Responsiveness of actions – whether they can be efficiently targeted on causes of the crime problem, and efficiently prioritised on basis of the consequences of crime, needs of victim and wider society
  • Legitimacy and acceptability of actions to community
  • Adaptability of actions – assessment of how far they are proofed against social/ technological change and adaptive offenders
  • Replicability:
    • Whether actions are implementable with an acceptable level of risk, given the context and the resources available (e.g. if the action requires a charismatic leader of a youth club, finding such a person cannot be guaranteed)
    • Which contextual conditions and infrastructure are helpful, or necessary, to successfully replicate this project – or particular elements of it

Ideally, only knowledge from reliably and independently evaluated projects should be captured using 5Is. However, such evaluations are still too rare, and for cost reasons supply will never meet demand – so for the interim at least, 5Is can equally be used to capture and apply experience-based knowledge. Even the most rigorously-evaluated and articulated project generates and uses tacit knowledge (Tilley 2006) – but interviewing practitioners in depth using 5Is headings can help to make some of this publicly available.

The place of 5Is in evaluation more generally

5Is as a knowledge capture framework

Using the 5Is (sub)headings as consistently as possible helps communication and retrieval. Different crime prevention projects may be organised in very different ways (some may use several methods of prevention). To build in flexibility, writers can vary the order of the description providing that headings are clear. The content – what information is documented – should be chosen on the basis of what is judged to be critical for success of the project; what is newsworthy (including to less-experienced practitioners); and what is needed just to complete the picture and make it intelligible.

5Is guidance material

5Is, complexity and adaptability

5Is – origins

Video interview