community safety

A concept which is sometimes used interchangeably with that of ‘crime prevention’ in criminological debates. The argument that the community can be both the cause (as, for instance, in some of the writings of the Chicago School) and the solution of the crime problem is not new. Ironically, at a time when critiques of post-industrial or mass society are mourning the loss of ‘traditional communities’, the idea that tackling criminal victimization is the responsibility of a broad base within the community has regained prominence in criminal justice policies and practices. Communities have been given a role in local crime prevention through the emphasis on physical measures to reverse the broken window syndrome. Members of the community are encouraged to take a share in deviance control by co-operating with the police and fulfilling their moral obligations as active citizens. However, critics of this philosophy have argued that the idea of citizen involvement in community safety programmes presumes both that we can identify and agree upon who the citizens are that make up a community, and what the crime concerns are for such citizens. In reality, some ethnic, gender, and age-groups are less visible, and (it is argued) their needs are therefore taken less seriously than are those of others in the ‘community’.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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