Kirkholt is a public housing area of
This program was directed at an area that suffered high burglary rates compared to the national average. Within that area, burglary victims were targeted for intervention and services. This population was singled out because one of the strongest predictors of victimization is having been victimized previously. In other words, repeat victimization is more probable than first-time victimization.
Many of the program components, especially in the first phase of the project, were put in place based on the connection between repeat victimization and crime prevention. They included:
· Target removal. An important component of burglary that was identified before the project’s implementation was the theft of money from electricity/gas prepayment meters located in the homes. These meters were emptied by the utility company only every month or every 3 months, offering an attractive target. The utility company agreed to replace these coin-fed meters with token-fed meters upon request.
· Natural surveillance. Because repeat victimization was high in Kirkholt, program implementers worked with burglary victims and nearby neighbors to develop “cocoon” watches. These small neighborhood watch programs included the six or seven houses or flats near the victims’ residences. Residents of the cocoon were asked to watch out for suspicious activity. If neighbors agreed to join, they became eligible for the same kinds of security upgrades offered to burgled residents.
· Target hardening. Burgled victims (and those in their cocoon) were offered security upgrades to decrease the chances of a repeat offense occurring at their residence.
The second phase of the project aimed to reduce the motivation to commit crime and thus featured an offender and community focus that complemented the victim focus of the first phase. Components that were introduced during this phase included the establishment of a credit union, a work program, school-based crime prevention programs, group meetings for offenders, and better information for probation officers and courts. The selection of components largely depended on the identification of motivations for burglars engaging in crime. For instance, when a survey revealed that many burglars committed a crime because of financial debt, program organizers developed a group on money management and also arranged for the introduction of a credit union for the area.
The program facilitated the establishment of the Kirkholt Community Crime Prevention Group. This group brought together participants originally involved in two separate activities: the establishment of cocoon and larger neighborhood watch programs and the development of community crime prevention measures. As the program matured, the activities of the two groups started to overlap, and so the decision was made to merge the two groups.
The program continued to evolve throughout the two phases of the project, and many of the components that were initially supported through special funding were absorbed by community agencies. One reason cited for the success of the program was that the focus on delivering services to victims of burglary made the pace of service delivery sustainable. This “drip feeding” approach meant that fewer resources were necessary at any one time and attention could be paced and focused.
A number of local agencies were critical in the success of the program, including the local police, probation services (especially in phase 2 when a probation officer took the lead), victim support services, and the town housing department (which provided the security upgrades).
The numbers of workers needed to successfully carry out this work was considerably less than initially anticipated. By the end of the second phase, only two workers were needed to keep pace with program needs.
Forrester and colleagues (1990) found that the bulk of the reductions in Kirkholt were achieved during the first part of the intervention. After the first phase, the level of burglary fell to 40 percent of its preimplementation rate in the treatment area. This trend contrasted with burglary rates in
A significant reduction in burglary may be due to the removal of cash-fed meters from the homes. Prior to the interventions at Kirkholt, nearly 50 percent of burglaries resulted in the theft of meter cash. At the end of the 1st year of the project, this was reduced to 22 percent and after the 2nd year was only 2 percent. These declines closely matched the overall declines in burglary.
Researchers noted an increased percentage of burglary victims who were classified as “new” residents (a year or less in their residence). An increase from 21 percent to 40 percent was noted for this group. The greatest decreases in victimization occurred in the 19–25 age group, then in the 26–35 group; other age groups’ rates remained fairly steady. Analysis revealed an increase in burglaries in the month of September, which coincided with the peak vacation period for older and retired people.
There was no evidence of crime displacement.