This 2008 glossary, co-developed with Aiden Sidebottom of UCL, was a first attempt to develop an integrated and rigorous suite of definitions spanning the unclear divide between the fields of crime prevention and security. It was developed in response to reading an otherwise excellent research report which used the term ‘vulnerability’ in four different senses.
The definitions relate to the crime-centred risks, and counterpart security properties, attached to domestic electronic consumer products such as mobile phones or music players, although it does contain more generic terms. It is planned to revise it to take account of more recent thinking, and indeed to produce one overarching glossary.
Terms in italics are defined elsewhere in this specific glossary. Links to definitions elsewhere in Crime Frameworks are also included, in blue font. Unless there is a product-specific nuance, generic terms such as crime prevention, defined elsewhere, have been removed from this glossary. Secure, secured, securing and security products are definitions now made consistent with those developed for the Security Function Framework, in particular the ‘security niche’ concept – how the security aspects of a designed product, place, system etc fit within the wider security ecosystem.
The rationale for the glossary is set out here:
Article: What Do You Mean, ‘Is It Secure?’ Redesigning Language to be Fit for the Task of Assessing the Security of Domestic and Personal Electronic Goods Ekblom and Sidebottom (2008).
Any criminogenic property of product which causes the offender to form the intention to steal it, whether because of its perceived value, vulnerability (including visibility and distinctiveness) and capacity for realisation of value. Attractiveness is also in the eye of the offenders, in terms of what they themselves value and how well-equipped they are to take the product and realise its value.
Sea fishing term denoting unwanted fish caught with the targeted ones. In crime prevention, property stolen incidentally through being associated with the target product, e.g by being in same target enclosure (handbag, pocket, car or house).
A product with the potential to cause harm through a criminal event such as theft or robbery. See hazard under security and risk management.
A property of a product which counteracts and diminishes the criminal harm caused by that product.
A product’s properties which lessen the probability of its theft.
A product’s properties which heighten the probability of its theft.
Any distinguishable physical or informational attribute of the product, which could be incidental or a deliberate adaptation by design. Features individually or in combination confer properties on the product.
Ecological term for environment where members of a particular species population typically lives, and (through evolution) are adapted to. Crime prevention equivalent could be used to denote the environment/s where a particular product or a set of products typically exist. The Risk environment is the risk dimension of the habitat.
Detrimental effect of an event to a product and/or to people, institutions and systems associated with it. The term includes harm to product itself during/after the crime; harm to owner or other parties through loss or damage of product and its informational contents; harm to owner or other parties through collateral loss of or damage to enclosure/carrier (bag, house, car) and any bycatch of other goods taken and perhaps discarded; harm to owner/carrier/householder from theft or robbery event itself; propagation of further harm through misuse of product.
Something with the potential to cause harm, e.g. through a theft event.
Public health term denoting a type of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of the majority of the population (or herd) provides protection to un-vaccinated individuals. Crime prevention equivalent is where criminals’ belief that secure products will dominate the ‘catch’ makes the attempt unworthwhile.
Properties which unintentionally reduce a product’s risk of theft.
An insecure product is one with strong criminogenic, susceptible and criminally hazardous properties, but without effective security adaptations/properties to reduce the elevated risk of theft to some acceptable level of both probability and harm. An insecure product is both vulnerable and valuable to the offender.
Currently refers to consumer electronic products such as mobile phones and laptops, though applicability is more general.
A product’s potential to resist, limit or recover from harm sustained during/after the theft event. See main definition of resilience.
Realisation of value
The process whereby possession of the stolen valuable product is converted into enjoyment, status display, misuse or resale.
See main definition here.
The environment or habitat of a particular product (or other entity): the place or system within which it is located, and which contains sources of criminal risk for it, including offenders and promoters; and sources of security, including various preventers, enclosures etc.
A product is safe and does not need particular security adaptations because it is used only in secure environments, protected by enclosures and surveillance technology and/or people acting as crime preventers.
Something that is secure is less at risk of theft than expected on the basis of its criminogenic, susceptible and criminally hazardous properties, because of specific adaptations to its risk environment.
Note – the secure terms are consistent with the niche concept in the Security Function Framework – how the product fits with the wider security ecosystem.
A secure product, more specifically, is one whose risk of theft is less than expected on the basis of its criminogenic, susceptible and criminally hazardous properties, because it is deliberately adapted to its expected risk environment to be criminocclusive, resilient in itself to harm, designed for incorporation in a resilient system and shielded against misuse. A secure product protects itself:
- By the incorporation of security or securing components.
- By deliberate security adaptations to its inherent causal properties, realised through constructional features and/or materials. These adaptations either work by themselves (such as anti-slash wire mesh incorporated within the fabric to resist mistreatment), or in conjunction with human action such as guardianship (for example where the opening flap of a handbag is fastened by Velcro, which alerts the owner by movement and noise when it’s opened).
Securing products have a subsidiary security purpose additional to their principal purpose (for example the Stop Thief chair is primarily for sitting on but a pair of notches cut in the front of the seat enables a bag to be securely hitched beneath the owner’s knees, in a café or pub).
Security communications, whether text and images (e.g. on ‘beware bag thieves’ posters), semiotics (e.g. the appearance of robustness of a target – Whitehead et al. 2008) or signals (such as audio/visual/electronic alarms or winking ‘armed’ lights), carry a range of information to diverse audiences: deterrent or discouraging messages to the thief, mobilising messages to owners or managers and so forth.
A security product’s principal purpose and design rationale is protecting some other target, person or property against crime.
Deliberate action by crime preventers (here, on a given product or its environment) which reduces product’s risk of theft. See main definition here.
- Primary security – reduces probability of harmful event
- Secondary security – if event does happen, limits harm as it unfolds to product, owner and beyond – i.e. increases resilience of product and system
- Tertiary security – limits propagation of harm that may occur post-event – i.e. increase shielding against misuse of product
A security feature deliberately designed to make the product more secure against the risks typically to be encountered in its expected habitat or risk environment.
The security level of a product is the degree to which its security properties outweigh its criminogenic and criminally hazardous features.
Shielded against misuse
A product incidentally/deliberately difficult for offender to use as resource for crime.
The degree to which a product, its owner or related systems, people or institutions are capable of being harmed by a criminal event or its consequences.
The potential of the owner/user, other parties and information systems associated with a certain product, to resist, limit or recover from harm sustained during/after theft event. See main definition of resilience here.
A threat, in the security sense (as opposed to making threats), is a hazard created, activated or directed through adaptive human malintent. See main definition here.
A product with the potential to meet some purpose of the offender – including for enjoyment, status display, misuse or resale. See also realisation of value.
Any product whose own properties enable it to be seen and taken by the offender. Vulnerability incorporates all criminogenic factors associated with theft of product except the motivation it engenders in the offender.