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Crime Prevention Policy and Government Research: A Comparison of the United States and United Kingdom

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative Sociology Volume: 42 Issue: 1/2 Dated: 2001 Pages: 235-255
Date Published
21 pages

This article examines Garland's (2000) view that both the United States and the United Kingdom have fundamentally similar approaches to crime prevention.


The authors draw distinctions between the United Kingdom's crime prevention approach and that of the United States. They argue that the United Kingdom's crime prevention policy is driven by the research findings on situational crime prevention; whereas, the United States' Federal emphasis on crime prevention is reflected in the 1994 Crime Bill. This legislation signaled a major shift in the Federal Government's emphasis on both crime prevention and the need for improvements in police/community relations. The hiring of 100,000 police officers over the life of the Crime Bill, and community policing became the paradigm for more effective policing and crime prevention through police-community cooperation. There is little evidence that this Federal initiative was research-based. Most police research funded through the National Institute of Justice presented evidence of what did not work in reducing crime rather than what has been effective. As part of this comparison of crime prevention efforts in the United Kingdom and the United States, this article compares the nature of government research in each country. The authors argue that the United Kingdom's approach has been more directive in pressing an agenda. In the United States, there has been more flexibility, which allows for a wide range of interpretations of what is needed and what works in crime prevention. The National Institute of Justice is structurally separate from research and evaluation. Examples of this are provided. Under the increasing pressure for cost-effective approaches to addressing crime, evidence-based policy derived from what research has shown to be effective is critical. A checklist is provided for determining whether an agency's work and policy development is based in research. 3 tables and 31 references

Date Published: January 1, 2001