Crime Impact Assessment, Crime Risk Assessment, Crime Proofing

  • Crime Impact Assessments seek to anticipate the outgoing effects of some activity that an organisation might be considering doing, upon the interests of other people and organisations – such as their desire to avoid falling victim to crime, contributing to higher taxes for extra police services or paying higher insurance premia.
  • Crime Risk Assessments by contrast focus on the incoming risks to that organisation’s assets and activities, from other sources in their operating environment, such as the opening of an unruly pub next door to their shop.
  • Crime Proofing of designs, regulations and potential services addresses how to ensure these have inbuilt security levels commensurate with the crime impacts they might be expected to generate, and crime risks they may be exposed to.

Risk and uncertainty

Definitions of the various assessment and proofing activities

Crime Impact Assessment (CIA), like environmental impact assessment, is the counterpart where the focus shifts to considering the criminogenic or criminally harmful consequences of one’s own proposals.  In economics terms, it treats crime as an externality.

Crime Risk Assessment (CRA) is an endeavour to systematically and rigorously identify the crime risks ‘out there’ which may face some proposed new entity for which we are responsible. These could be a place (such as a new building), product (e.g. a new model of car), service (e.g. a new kind of internet delivery service), business model (e.g. a new kind of banking)… or anything else which could become embroiled in crime in some way. As with risk in general, the twin tracks of risk are probability of a possible kind of criminal event occurring, and harm from its occurrence.    

Variations on the above activities can also be undertaken:

Community Safety Impact and Risk Assessments follow the above pattern.  For example: A Community Safety Impact assessment is an attempt, as systematically, rigorously and transparently as possible, to identify the consequences for community safety of undertaking certain actions, offering certain services or pursuing certain policies at a range of geographical levels.

Crime prevention and community safety actions can themselves have further impacts on other goals – for example excessive street-lighting will have a large carbon footprint, disrupts wildlife’s natural patterns and limits views of the night sky; and badly-designed crime prevention interventions (such as fortified appearance of buildings/fences) can adversely affect community safety itself.

Doing an impact or risk assessment on crime or community safety

Crime Impact Assessment

  • What kind of role might the bin play in crime?
    • Answer 1) Misappropriation – bin itself stolen; 2) Mistreatment – bin itself damaged; 3) Misuse – bin used as ladder, hiding place for loot
Community Safety Impact Assessment

The impact assessment can be taken even further by forecasting the wider effects of the crime and safety consequences in their turn on other policy and practice areas such as sustainability and regeneration. Appropriate policy choices and practical interventions can then be made to resolve or mitigate conflicts and issues.

Crime Risk Assessment

Doing a Crime Risk Assessment involves scrutinising any known current state of affairs, forecast trend or event ‘out there’, in terms of its likely effect on the range of known causes and risk factors of crime. This process can be made more systematic:

In all cases the Crime Risk Assessment is intended to lead to action to manage the risk through:

Crime Proofing

A project on the Crime Proofing of portable domestic electronic items (Project MARC) was undertaken by Rachel Armitage (Armitage 2012). Various industrial and security-related stakeholders rated a range of products such as mobile phones on a) the crime risks to which they were likely to be exposed, and b) the level of security currently incorporated in their design. The aim was to develop a procedure for ensuring that designers (and the manufacturers who commission them) incorporate security levels commensurate with anticipated risk; and that consumers are guided to make appropriate choices of make and model of product to buy, hence applying market pressure on the manufacturers. The research revealed a number of challenges to implementing Crime Proofing on a routine basis.

Regarding market pressure, Johnson et al. (2020) estimated the potential impact of security labelling of Internet of Things-enabled products on consumer choice and willingness to pay. Their findings suggest that the use of a security label represents a policy option that could influence behaviour and that should be seriously considered.

Presentation on impact assessments

The presentation below offers an overview of the various kinds of impact assessments:

Risks to the preventive process itself

Background to Crime Impact and Risk Assessments