chapter  18
Crime prevention
Pages 22

As the proverb goes, prevention is better than cure. It is much better to stop crime before it occurs by taking preventive measures, for example residents installing anti-burglary doors to prevent burglary. Crime prevention is an important component in criminal justice. First, the benefits of crime prevention are in parallel to those of disease prevention. A sound public health system should provide education and guidance to the public on how to prevent cancer rather than just treat cancer after patients are diagnosed with the disease. In terms of crime, however, many popular media accounts of crime, both real-life and fictional, tend to convey the message that the most effective way to control crime is to arrest offenders. This reactive approach to crime is no more than closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Second, it has been demonstrated in the extant literature that a small number of people commit a disproportionate amount of crime, and that a criminal history is a significant factor of future re-offending (see, for example, Zamble and Quinsey, 1997). It follows logically then that to ‘prevent’ people from having a criminal record in the first place has substantial effects on recidivism, and therefore overall crime in society. Third, crime prevention has economic benefits. Simply put, crime prevention could save money and therefore put to greatest use the resources allocated to the criminal justice system (Swaray, 2006). Last but not least, a particular crime involves a network including the offender, the victim, their family members and the whole community. To prevent it from ever occurring spares the whole network from the impact and damage of crime. Hong Kong is among the safest cities around the world, both in terms of

official crime statistics and crime victim surveys (see Chapters 4 and 5 of this edited volume). While this high level of safety could be attributed to a wide range of factors, the crime prevention efforts made by the law enforcement agencies (particularly the police) and the community at large should not be discounted. This chapter aims to highlight the various crime prevention programmes and initiatives in Hong Kong against the backdrop of international efforts in crime prevention. It is organised into three sections: definitions of

crime prevention, classifications of crime prevention, and selected local crime prevention programmes and initiatives.