Civil Remedies Research Paper

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Looking at civil remedies through the broad prism of opportunity theory – which includes situational crime prevention (SCP) and its related theoretical and practical approaches – has a number of advantages for those whose primary interests lie either in civil remedies or in SCP. For those interested in civil remedies and third-party policing (TPP), this analysis does the following:

• Provides an integrated set of articulated concepts, with linkages to other similar approaches, for examining how civil remedies can be used for crime-prevention purposes

• Highlights some of the untapped crime preventive potential of civil remedies For those interested in SCP, this analysis aims to make the following clearer:

• How SCP operates to prevent crime opportunities

• How it might operate differently if civil remedies were used more often

• How it might be expanded to look at the mechanics of the crime-prevention process in more detail

This research paper defines, in detail, SCP, civil remedies, and TPP, and discusses classification systems that have been used to highlight important features of both SCP and civil remedies. It uses four different “approaches” based on SCP and other related opportunity theories to examine how civil remedies could be used as part of SCP. Approach 1 focuses on the 25 techniques of situational crime prevention, finding that almost all of the techniques appear to be compatible with the use of TPP. Approach 2 looks at 25 individual SCP measures, how they operate to limit crime, and how they might be able to be adapted to incorporate civil remedies. Approach 3 looks at the different types of routine-activity controls available in relation to a crime event, how these controls could operate to prevent crime in terms of the SCP techniques, and how civil remedies might be able to be used to assist this process. Finally, Approach 4 uses a single crime script to illustrate the application of a civil remedy to a crime-prevention initiative, for use in planning, implementation, and evaluation. In effect, it unpacks and repackages the multiple layers of control involved when civil remedies are used in crime prevention. Although the potential uses of civil remedies are very broad, the need for careful assessment of potential effectiveness and efficiency, and the possibility of overregulation and other unintended consequences, is stressed. Caution is also recommended with the possible expansion of the use of civil remedies into criminal lifestyles as part of an opportunity-theory approach.


An Opportunity-Theory Approach: Situational Crime Prevention And Related Approaches

“Situational crime prevention” refers to the attempt to alter settings or “situations,” in which potential offenders might otherwise find themselves, so that it is less likely for crimes to occur at that time or place, in that manner, against that target, or with as severe an effect (see Clarke chapter in Wortley and Mazerolle 2008). It does not rely on understanding any long-term motivational characteristics of these potential offenders. Instead, it uses a variety of techniques to block crime opportunities or otherwise make crime less attractive for potential offenders. Its focus is on the more proximal causes of behavior and is intended to limit the harm before it occurs.

A number of different theoretical and practice perspectives have influenced the development of SCP theory and practice since it was developed initially by Ron Clarke and others (see discussion in Clarke 2010). Only two of these perspectives are discussed at length here – the routine activity approach (RAA) and the rational choice perspective (RCP). Although other perspectives, e.g., designing products against crime (see Ekblom 2005), and crime pattern theory (see, e.g., Brantingham and Brantingham chapter in Wortley and Mazerolle 2008), are useful for understanding the full scope of the use of civil remedies in crime prevention, RAA and RCP are particularly useful for highlighting the features of SCP that provide the sharpest focus for understanding civil remedies and third-party policing in terms of SCP and the opportunity-theory approach.

Civil Remedies

A civil remedy has been defined as “an action taken by an authoritative body – a legislature, a court, or an administrative agency – to enforce compliance with prescribed conduct or to impose a cost for failure to comply” (Mann 1992, p. 1908). As Cheh (1991) has pointed out, traditionally, with the exception of behaviors subject to regulatory safeguards, those who harm another person have been potentially subject to criminal law sanctions brought by the state or to civil law remedies sought by the harmed party. Only in the last 40 years or so has the civil law been used by the government, in her example, by the US federal government to bring divestiture and treble damage actions against businesses run by both white-collar and organized-crime offenders under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). At its best, the threat of this civil action is meant to disrupt criminal activities in a manner that may not be achieved through the ordinary workings of the criminal law where punishable behavior is set out in a statute and then punished if carried out. The civil aspect of this legislation not only focuses on other aspects of the crime or crimes, it allows the government to use a branch of the court system that has a lower standard of proof than is required in a criminal proceeding, where guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is used. Although Cheh (1991) pointed out some legal limitations to their use, civil remedies can be used both when the focus of the remedy is on the primary actor, the offender, and when they are used against another party who is not directly involved in the criminal activity. Because they are available and legal, however, does not necessarily mean that they are suitable, in terms of their crime-preventive effects, or desirable, in terms of their unintended consequences. These issues are discussed below in the section entitled “Potential Controversies.”

Third-Party Policing

“Third-party policing” (TPP) is the term used by Buerger and Mazerolle (1998, p. 301) to refer to “police efforts to persuade or coerce nonoffending persons to take actions which are outside the scope of their routine activities, and which are designed to indirectly minimize disorder caused by other persons or to reduce the possibility that crime may occur.” They noted that, in practice, this persuasion or coercion most often operates through civil law regulations. The “third party” is the one who is forced to do the “policing.” The term refers to actions undertaken through a variety of partnerships between police and other agencies and addresses both crime-preventive aims and crime control (Mazerolle and Ransley 2005). One could argue also that efforts by other crime-fighting elements within the government, such as a prosecutor carrying out community prosecution (Boland 2001), are also included under the TPP umbrella.

Civil Remedies And Crime Prevention

Civil remedies include such a broad group of actions that they do not easily fit under a single label developed for discussing crime prevention. For example, in the well-known typology of crime prevention developed by Brantingham and Faust (1977), which uses a public-health-model approach to the prevention of crime, a civil remedy such as a zoning code could be used as a form of primary prevention to prevent clubs from opening in an area, thereby changing what might otherwise be a potentially favorable environment for selling drugs. Another civil remedy, such as a curfew, might be used as a secondary crime-prevention measure to prevent teens (a group at risk for delinquency) from driving after midnight except in special circumstances. While a third civil remedy, such as an offender-notification provision, might be targeted at convicted felons as a form of tertiary prevention (of those who have displayed the unwanted behavior or condition).

Civil remedies can also be examined according to the means used to achieve a crime-prevention result. In terms of social prevention, the civil remedy is used to change social relations as a way of preventing crime in the future. For example, civil injunctions have been used to prevent gang members from associating with other gang members (Maxson et al. 2005), with the intention of disrupting the group’s social relations. In terms of situational crime prevention (SCP), civil remedies can be used as part of an effort to reduce the opportunities for a potential offender to do crime in a particular setting or situation. An example of this type of application is when a city uses housing-code enforcement to get a landlord to alter the physical environment around a public housing unit so that many of the conditions favorable to drug sales are eliminated (Green 1996). Although civil remedies can operate within a variety of crime-prevention frameworks, in this research paper, the focus is on using the integrated concepts associated with SCP, and its related theoretical perspectives, to examine how civil remedies are or can be used to effect opportunity reduction.

One major advantage of the situational approach, when compared to traditional rehabilitative or early-prevention approaches, is that it does not require preventers to be able to identify who the offender or potential offender is. This has implications for the use of civil remedies as part of a situational scheme, namely that preventive techniques or interventions that do require identifying offenders are not, strictly speaking, examples of SCP. Thus, they are subject to the same types of constraints related to detection that traditional post-offense policing faces. But they face another type of constraint or criticism that does not usually relate to SCP: The state is trying to impose a negative sanction on behavior without providing criminal law safeguards, as noted previously (see, e.g., Cheh 1991; Mann 1992).

Just as not all civil remedies fall under an SCP umbrella, not all SCP fit under a TTP umbrella. While a situational measure can be carried out by non-policing parties who are subject to civil sanctions for nonperformance of some required action, SCP does not require that the measures be carried out either with non-policing third parties nor does it require a threat of civil sanctions for these parties to carry out situational measures. Figure 1 sets out a simple framework for understanding the usual legally derived mechanisms that operate to influence potential criminal behaviors. The “surrounding circumstances” that civil remedies (and criminal penalties) may influence are the situational aspects of behaviors, including those controlled by third parties.

Legal Framework For Understanding Civil Remedies

In their book onthird-party policing (TPP), Mazerolle and Ransley (2005, pp. 74–75) looked atthe broad range of legal actions that could be used for some type ofcrime-prevention enforcement through a third (non-law enforcement) party. In their table on legal frameworks (pp. 74–75) for TPP, they presented a typology of thefour types of authority that can be involved in legal enforcement actions:

1. Statutory provisions (such as a statewide or nationwide law)

2. Subordinate or lower-level legislation (such as a citywide ordinance)

3. Contracts (agreements between individual parties)

4. Torts (based on the legal duties between parties, which can arise based on the relationships between parties or on statutorily imposed duties of care)

Statutory provisions and subordinate legislation can include both civil and criminal ramifications for those whose behavior falls within the provisions set out. Contracts and torts are both subject only to civil law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies, on the other hand, do not ordinarily use contracts and torts as formal enforcement measures, although these agencies may work in partnerships with other parties who can use contract or tort enforcement to try to achieve a crime-preventive purpose. It is important to understand the legal framework underlying the civil remedy used when planning a preventive campaign that seeks to use such a remedy because this will help the preventer gauge the mechanism of the control available, as well as its obvious legal limitations.

Types Of Civil Remedies

When planning for a crime-prevention campaign, it is also very important to understand all of the different types of civil remedies that might be available for use. Within the legal framework they set out, Mazerolle and Ransley (2005, pp. 74–75) also provided examples of types of interventions that use the civil law as an enforcement mechanism. They list seven types of statutory remedies:

1. Orders to control behavior of offenders, which includes both precursor behaviors and behaviors associated with more serious types of criminal actions

2. Movement and association limits, which includes limits imposed on types of people and types of situations with which a party can interact

3. Conduct licensing, which relates primarily to retail or service establishments

4. Formalized surveillance, which focuses on those who have been convicted of a crime

5. Property controls, which relate to real property owned or managed by private or public parties

6. Mandatory reporting by professional service providers

7. Civil forfeiture, which focuses on the proceeds of crime

As noted previously, these types of civil remedies fall under the general umbrella of SCP to the extent that they are situationally, and not offender, focused.

Mazerolle and Ransley (2005) also included three categories of subordinate legislation: (1) orders under regulatory codes primarily related to health and safety issues; (2) product and service standards such as those that might make crimes associated with the products easier to carry out; and (3) controlled zones that limit or allow certain types of behavior within them. Product standards legislation falls under the general category of designing crime out of products, an area of opportunity theory that has seen a great deal of theoretical expansion recently (see Ekblom 2005). Crime pattern theory (CPT), which centers on the theory and practice of environmental criminology (see Brantingham and Brantingham chapter in Wortley and Mazerolle 2008), emphasizes the study of movement patterns of potential offenders and crime targets, along with other types of crime patterns. This aspect of opportunity theory is particularly useful for studying the effects of zoning – a civil regulatory remedy.

Approach 1: Focusing On The Situational Crime-Prevention Techniques Themselves

To understand how SCP works in practice and how this practice relates to civil remedies and TPP, one place to start is with a general introduction to the types of opportunity-reducing techniques that are considered to be situational and how they may operate to reduce crime. Here, the focus is on the most-recent SCP classification scheme – 25 techniques organized according to how they operate to affect offender decision making (see Cornish and Clarke 2003). Cornish and Clarke set out a table that organized the 25 specific techniques into five general categories of techniques with five specific techniques each. Smith and Clarke (2012) have recently produced a parallel table that sets out an explanation describing each of the 25 techniques and the five organizing categories. Here, the five general categories from Cornish and Clarke (2003) are provided along with summaries of their descriptions from Smith and Clarke (2012, pp. 306–307). The descriptions from Smith and Clarke included references to the concepts of offender, crime target (or victim), and target guardian derived from the routine activity approach (RAA), which is discussed in detail in this research paper under “Approach 3,” and in the following section.

• Increase the effort – which focuses on blocking the offender’s actions or movement, thereby stopping the crime from happening – includes the following techniques:

1. Target harden – affect how an offender might get to or use a target

2. Control access to facilities – limit how an offender might gain access to a place

3. Screen exits – monitor how an offender might exit from a setting where a crime can occur

4. Deflect offenders – change potential offender’s movement patterns

5. Control tools/weapons – limit access to or use of things that make it easier to do the crime

• Increase the risks – which focuses on the guardian’s potential role in detecting the crime and capturing the offender – includes the following techniques:

6. Extend guardianship – encourage unofficial guardians

7. Assist natural surveillance – make it easier to see criminal behavior

8. Reduce anonymity – increase likelihood of identifying offenders

9. Utilize place managers – use new or existing employees

10. Strengthen formal surveillance – pro-vide official guardians or increase their effectiveness

• Reduce the rewards – which focuses on decreasing the value of the target for an offender or otherwise making it harder for the offender to achieve his or her purpose – includes the following techniques:

11. Conceal targets – limit offenders’ ability to see targets

12. Remove targets – take potential targets away or reduce their value

13. Identify property – mark potential targets

14. Disrupt markets – make the transfer of proceeds difficult

15. Deny benefits – make it difficult to use targets for the purposes intended

• Reduce provocations – which focuses on the situational stimuli that may, in some situations, lead to crime – includes the following techniques:

16. Reduce frustrations and stress – make settings and procedures calm

17. Avoid disputes – limit situations that encourage disputes

18. Reduce emotional arousal – limit insulting behaviors in a setting

19. Neutralize peer pressure – lessen stimuli that encourage the desire to gain approval through crime

20. Discourage imitation – limit details of modus operandi that can be copied

• Remove excuses – which focuses on strengthening the situational controls that may limit the offender’s ability to excuse or ignore his or her criminal behavior in that situation – includes the following techniques:

21. Set rules – detail which behaviors are unacceptable

22. Post instructions – set out how to behave in the setting

23. Alert conscience – put up reminders about behavioral requirements

24. Assist compliance – make it easier to do acceptable behaviors

25. Control drugs and alcohol – make it easier to limit intake of behavioral disinhibitors

In terms of TPP, only strengthen formal surveillance (technique 10) on its face, focuses on more formal types of policing. Yet, even with this technique, two of the three measures set out in the original table by Cornish and Clarke (2003, p. 90) – “burglar alarms” and “security guards” – can be used by third parties.

Approach 2: Looking At Particular Situational Measures And Civil Remedies

This approach alsofocuses on the 25 SCP techniques set out in Cornish and Clarke (2003), but itexplores in more detail whether civil remedies could, at least theoretically,be used to help achieve the type of modification to the situation intended withthe SCP measure. Table 1 looks at each of the 25 techniques, focusing on onemeasure set out as an example in the original table (Cornish and Clarke 2003).Each row of Table 1, performs the following: (1) links these measures to a crime,(2) sets out how the measure operates (drawing on the discussion in Smith andClarke 2012), (3) includes the focus of the preventive measure (discussed in Smith1998), (4) identifies the controller, using concepts derived from the routine activityapproach (RAA) that are discussed in the next section, (5) provides theprobable super controller (drawing on the work in RAA and also discussed indetail below), (6) describes the potential source of authority of a civilremedy (Mazerolle and Ransley 2005, discussed above), and (7) includes the typeof intervention, also using the terminology of Mazerolle and Ransley (2005) setout earlier in this research paper.

Civil Remedies Research Paper

In Approach 1, whichlooked just at the technique itself and how it tended to work to affect a potentialoffender’s behavior, only one technique (technique 10 – strengthen formalsurveillance) appeared to be unlikely to allow TPP incentives to be used withit. Looking specifically at the examples of potential measures that were setout in the original table, however, demonstrated that this conclusion wasoverbroad because individual measures that use this technique could be carriedout by third parties and not just police personnel. The analysis set out inTable 1 confirms that it is important to look at specific measures in order tounderstand the types of incentives that might be used to carry them out. Here,another type of measure, roadside speed display boards (a measure that can beused to alert conscience (technique 23)) may be used primarily by police agenciesand may not be amenable to the use of a civil remedy incentive, even though thetechnique itself is not so limited.

Civil Remedies Research Paper

Table 1 has several other uses as well. It allows a prevention planner to see how different types of measures could be used in terms of their theoretical and operational purposes, unpacking the variety of controls that may be operating when a situational technique is used. It also illustrates that many of the measures in the original Cornish and Clarke (2003) table are linked to place and consequently to place managers. This suggests the importance of place in crime prevention (since common measures were in the table) and also suggests the overall importance of place in crime commission.

Approach 3: Focusing On Controllers And Third-Party Policing (TPP)

Examining the manner in which a situational change is affected (which is what SCP has traditionally focused on) has limitations for understanding how SCP and opportunity theory can be linked to the use of civil remedies. This is because it does not necessarily dictate who can deliver or implement the needed change. Even the descriptions set out in Smith and Clarke (2012) do not cover all of the possible controls that might be operating with each technique. This distinction can be illustrated using SCP technique 18, reduce emotional arousal. For example, enforcing good behavior on the soccer field (the second measure listed under technique 18 in Cornish and Clarke’s (2003) original table, not shown here) can be carried out by someone who controls the venue, someone who is protecting the target of the potential offense, or by someone who can influence an offender, or by all three types of people present in the situation. This focus on who “controls” the elements that converge to produce a crime event is central to the routine activity approach and is also central to understanding how civil remedies are, or could potentially be, used to persuade or coerce a third party to act to carry out an SCP measure.

The Routine Activity Approach (RAA)

The routine activity approach has developed from the theory set out by Cohen and Felson in 1979 that looked at, among other things, the three minimum elements that had to converge for a crime to occur at a particular time and place: the presence of a likely (or motivated) offender, the presence of a target (or victim) for the crime, and the absence of a guardian capable to protect the target and interrupt or prevent the crime. Since 1979, RAA has been expanded to include the following: (a) an additional element needed for a crime, i.e., place; (b) additional parties who could operate on these necessary elements to prevent a crime event from occurring, i.e., a handler to control an offender, a manager to control a place, and a props controller to deal with the instrumentalities of a crime; and (c) the sources of the types of incentives that can motivate guardians, handlers, managers, and props controllers. Most of these developments in RAA were discussed by Brunet (2002). The explanation in this section on RAA builds on Brunet’s work by also providing a detailed explanation of how SCP measures may be able to be carried out by those different types of controllers and, in turn, how civil remedies may sometimes be used to induce other actors to change the situation so that the actors closest to crime events can prevent them. This approach focuses on connecting TPP to a measure when viewing the measure from the perspective of the RAA role.

The Target Guardian

The actions of target guardians, or those who protect the target or victim from victimization, can increase the risk of an offender being detected, captured, and convicted. The mere threat of these consequences occurring may also operate to block or limit crime events (see, e.g., Poyner 1992, for his study of the use of cameras on buses to prevent vandalism by schoolchildren). The ultimate goal is to get the guardian to act, but the focus of the intervention itself, in this case the civil remedy, may be on another controller (such as the place manager, discussed below).

This risk-increaser aspect of the guardian’s role is well explored in Cornish and Clarke’s 25-technique table and in Table 1 (techniques 6 through 10, above). What may be less initially apparent, however, is that target guardians can also operate to increase effort (through technique 1) by making it harder to get to or use a target, such as a car, by strengthening locking devices and to reduce rewards (through techniques 11, 12, and 13) by concealing, removing, or marking a potential target to make it less visible, not present, or not suitable for the potential offender’s purposes. Target guardians can also help to reduce provocations in situations through helping those present avoid disputes (technique 17) and reduce emotional arousal (technique 18, as noted previously). The inducements available with TPP may be easily envisioned for some of these measures. For example, legislation may be passed that requires car owners to put steering-column locks on their vehicles (see Webb 1997). Regulations that focus on steering-column locks for new vehicles require the participation of different types of target guardians than would be true for legislation requiring the device be placed retroactively on used vehicles; however, in both cases the guardian would not need to be physically present to influence the likelihood of the event occurring.

The Handler

In 1986, Felson expanded the players affecting the commission of crime events by discussing the role that offender handlers could play in controlling a potential offender. Although Felson took an expansive view of the role of the handler as a social control agent, more recently Tillyer and Eck (2011) have argued that it may be useful to look at the preventive and explanatory role of handlers, particularly in terms of the situational aspects of these roles. And, although the context is situational, the influence itself may rely to some extent on the existing social relationship between the offender and the handler. Tillyer and Eck (2011) set out four primary factors they saw as possibly effecting handler effectiveness: (a) social closeness; (b) willingness to intervene; (c) opportunity to intervene; and (d) knowledge of the situation and environment in relation to the offense. Thus, if one is expecting offenders to be influenced by those likely to be present when crime events are about to happen, then, given the factors identified as possibly important by Tillyer and Eck, it is friends, girl-friends, and potential co-offenders – and possibly teachers, parents, or bystanders – who would be available to be utilized as handlers in this context. Although this was not discussed by Tillyer and Eck (2011), each handler is a potential focus of a third-party policing initiative that might operate as a legal inducement to handling potential offenders, if an appropriate means of regulating the behavior of these potential handlers could be identified. The use of civil or criminal parental responsibility laws, or curfews that punish parents for their child’s noncompliance, could be used as inducements for potential handlers (see Brunet 2002).

There is another waythat SCP theory mayprovide some guidance for thinking about the possible rolesof handlers in TPP. In keeping with Tillyer and Eck’s (2011) contention thatthe situational roles of handlers have not been often explored, most of theexamples of SCP measures set out in Cornish and Clarke’s (2003) 25-technique table would not normally be carried out by handlers. Nevertheless, there are anumber of techniques that appear, on their face, to be open to handlers. Forexample, handlers could be used to do the following: deflect offender movementsaway from potential targets (technique 4); control the tools or weaponsoffenders might use (technique 5); and reduce the anonymity of potentialoffenders by convincing them to wear name tags or uniforms in particular typesof settings (technique 8). In addition, four of the techniques that focus onproviding situational controls (removing excuses) appear to fit fairly directlywith the role of a handler who has some relationship with a potential offender,in particular: setting rules (technique 21); alerting conscience (technique23); assisting compliance (technique 24); and controlling drugs and alcohol(technique 25). Similarly, four of the techniques in the “reducingprovocations” category – avoiding disputes (technique 17); reducing emotionalarousal (technique 18); neutralizing peer pressure (technique 19); anddiscouraging imitation (technique 20) – could be carried out, in somesituations, by handlers. Interestingly, these last two categories of techniques– reducing provocations and removing excuse – were seen by Cornish and Clarke(2003) as special cases. Reducing provocation, in their view, involveslife-threatening cases or cases in which there is repeated exposure tosituation-ally provoking stimuli. Removing excuses would tend to be used forminor criminal acts, either ambiguously criminal or antisocial, and for noviceoffenders or those not commonly doing serious crimes. These types of acts mightbe amenable to interventions from handlers present in the situation, perhapsprecisely because they are special cases either of particularly unusualsituations that might not be normally covered by other types of guardians orbecause handlers might be better able to convince fairly novice or minoroffenders not to do the offense. If handlers are present, they may have “knowledgeabout the situation and environment that allow and/or provoke the offense,”“social closeness to the potential offender,” “willingness to intervene due topersonal investment, either economic or emotional,” and “an opportunity tointervene” (Tillyer and Eck 2011, p.184). When viewed in terms of TPP, twoquestions arise: (1) How would such a civil inducement be framed to focusprecisely on the needed control? (2) Is a civil remedy the most effectiveinducement to use for each of these situations? The general issues raised bythese questions are discussed briefly at the end of this research paper.

The Place Manager

Another expansion of the routine activity approach came when Felson (1986) discussed the importance of place in the convergence of offender and target, without a capable guardian present. Building on this growing number of crime event elements and guardians, Eck (1995) identified the importance of place managers in controlling the conditions in which crime opportunities might be present.

The power of the place manager role can be seen by looking back at Table 1 and noting that techniques 1 through 5, and 15 through 25 can easily be performed by someone who controls the place in which the prevention measure can be carried out. For example, if the target of a residential burglary is an apartment house, then the owner could be the place manager who installs sturdy window and door locks (target hardening the house – technique 1) to make it more difficult for an offender to enter. Place managers can also reduce frustrations (technique 16) by providing more seating in a bus terminal or set rules (technique 21) and require hotel guests to register. In addition, techniques 7 (assisting natural surveillance), 8 (reducing anonymity), and 9 (utilizing place managers) can each involve place managers as controllers, depending on the particular measures used. Examples of measures that fall within these classes include cutting foliage around parking lot fences (to prevent theft of or from cars), requiring those attending schools to wear uniforms (to allow school administrators to identify when students are leaving the school building to be truant), and setting up CCTV to monitor student behavior on buses. Similarly, place managers can disrupt markets (technique 14) by requiring employees to check serial numbers on goods in pawnshops and deny benefits (technique 15) by requiring graffiti cleanup on their property.

In terms of TPP, many of the regulations commonly used in communities center on places – where people live, work, spend their leisure-time activities, or travel through on their way to these places. For example, housing and building codes provide guidelines for construction and upkeep. Safety regulations set up restrictions on the types of protective gear that must be worn at certain workplaces. Licensing requirements determine what types of beverages are sold in an establishment and fire codes set capacity limits on the number of patrons who can be present. Vendor licensing limits who can sell goods on the sidewalks and where the sellers can operate. The enforcement of each of these types of restrictions can, in some cases, induce place managers to act in ways that make crime less likely in a particular place.

Props Controllers

Smith (1998), in her analysis of the role that civil remedies can play in SCP, identified a fourth type of controller, the props controller. The importance of props in the crime commission process had been identified previously in the SCP classifications tables of Clarke (1992) and Clarke and Homel (1997) in the technique of “controlling facilitators,” and more recently in the 25 techniques table of Cornish and Clarke (2003) in the technique of “controlling tools/weapons.” Cornish (1994) used the term “props” – drawing on the dramaturgical aspect of the crime script – to describe these instrumentalities of crime. Despite the importance of these crime facilitators, the role of the “props controller” has not gained wide acceptance in the RAA literature (but see Mazerolle and Ransley, 2005). This is probably because props are not a necessary element of all crime events and the term “controller” has developed a more generic meaning. Nevertheless, “props controller” is used here in keeping with its more crime-specific role (see Table 2, as part of the regulation of spray paint sales to disrupt a graffiti tagging crime script).

Which Type Of Controller?

Sometimes it is difficult to determine exactly how a particular civil remedy operates to affect the prevention mechanism. One example of such a complex case is where local regulations require taxi drivers to post their identification in their vehicles. If the crime that is being prevented is sexual assault of female passengers by drivers, then the question becomes who or what is being controlled. Is it the offender, the place, or the victim? In effect, it can be all three, although usually one of these elements is the one that is primarily affected and the other two elements may change, or be changed, in response. In the case of displaying taxi driver credentials, the potential offender, if he is a licensed driver, is controlled because he loses his anonymity and the risks associated with a sexual assault increase. In effect, the offender has been “handled” by the display of his identity information. The potential target, the passenger, can act as her own guardian as she has the information needed to help her determine whether the driver is bogus and she needs to get out, or better yet, not enter. But both of these reactions to the control cannot occur unless the place is first controlled by the place manager, usually the owner of the taxicab, who is being induced to post driver credentials by the regulation. The owner of the cab may be its driver, but he or she would be acting in the role of the place manager, not the potential offender, by posting the identification. Thus, an issue that first appeared as one of “which type of controller” is operating, can be seen as a situation in which multiple levels of control must operate – the place controller and the handler or the place controller and the guardian – for the crime to be prevented.

Super Controllers

Recently Sampson, Eck, and Dunham (2010) have identified a different type of level of factors that they see as affecting all three categories of controllers – handlers, guardians, and managers. They term these factors “super controllers.” This classification system is similar to “inducement type” identified by Smith (1998, p. 76) as “noncoercive encouragement, civil remedies and criminal penalties,” but it is more extensive (with 11 types) and covers a larger variety of possible influences on controllers. These incentives include the following: (a) formal – organizational, contractual, financial, regulatory, and courts; (b) diffuse – political, markets, and media; and (c) personal – groups and family.

The three main categories are types of controls used. The super controller is given the name of the incentive source, with the incentive playing the role of a super controller of controllers. This is a different type of role than that seen previously in RAA where the roles were less abstract and more easily assignable to a real person either in planning or in practice.

This conception of incentives expands RAA and in a very neat manner ties together RAA and RCP. Sampson et al. (2010) do this by suggesting that super controllers manipulate the same rational choice factors – effort, risk, reward, provocation, and excuses – when seeking to influence controllers’ likelihood of controlling potential crime elements that were identified as important for potential offenders in the SCP 25-techniques table of Cornish and Clarke (2003). This linking together of the elements from rational choice theory which influence potential offenders, with the decision-making elements of ordinary actors who may act as controllers, provides support for Cornish’s (1993) contention that the rational choice perspective should be seen as a meta-theory, or a theory of action, for criminological theory. Sampson and her colleagues said that these five rational choice factors could be used to help understand why controllers – handlers, guardians, and managers – may not always act to control their associated crime elements – offenders, targets/victims, and places – and to help preventers figure out how to overcome these influences.

Thus, there are two ways that this new view of incentives can be useful to TPP: (1) it focuses on the processes that influence controllers (potential TPP actors) – i.e., risk, reward, effort, provocations, and excuses; and (2) it can highlight what is already going on to control crime and this can allow preventers to see if more can be done through employing the types of TPP discussed by Mazerolle and Ransley (2005). This view of super controllers can be applied to TPP even though: (a) TPP overlaps with only two categories of super controllers – regulatory incentives and courts incentives – and (b) regulatory super controllers include not only governmental regulators but also private regulators.

Approach 4: Being Crime Specific – Crime Scripts And Civil Remedies

The rational choice perspective of Cornish and Clarke (see chapter in Wortley and Mazerolle, 2008) was developed to help explain why SCP works. Using concepts such as “purposive behavior” and “bounded rationality,” it adopted a crime-specific approach to examining three different types of involvement decisions related to crime commission – involvement, habituation, and desistance – and two different types of models of the crime event – the event model and the crime script. Applying lessons from research, it stressed the importance of risk, reward, and effort in the decision making of potential offenders. This last aspect of RCP is reflected in the 25-techniques table of Cornish and Clarke (2003), which was discussed in relation to Approaches 1 and 2, above. The crime script, initially developed by Cornish (1994), takes a different approach and focuses on the requirements of the crime itself, the processes that need to occur for the crime event to be completed. When Cornish listed these required actions, he also showed that one could link other factors related to these needed actions, such as reasons for an action to fail or SCP measures that could block an action. In 1998, Smith expanded the number of factors that could be linked to an SCP measure, such as the type of intervenor, the focus of the SCP control, the medium of control (or controller, as discussed in Approach 3 above), the type of inducement (essentially the type of super controller, also discussed above), and the inducement enforcer. Table 2 has been constructed based on the discussion in Smith (1998) as a tool for examining the part that a civil remedy commonly plays in a prevention initiative – in this case, disrupting a tag-writing script.

The distinctly crime-specific approach of the expanded crime script is particularly good for planners to use when one single technique is unlikely to be able to block the crime in the setting where the prevention initiative is needed. Because Table 2 attempts to “unpack” each measure that could be used, in addition to its use in planning, it may also assist at the implementation and evaluation stages when it is important to be clear how each measure may be affecting each action in the crime script. Thus, it is particularly well suited for the application of civil remedies that may require the intervention of a number of different stakeholders or members of a partnership in addition to the usual police intervenor.

Potential Controversies

By noting the many ways that civil remedies might be able to be used to block crime opportunities does not necessarily mean that all of these uses are either problem free or desirable. They may not be the most effective means of inducing someone to act nor the most efficient in terms of money and effort, and there are potentially many unintended consequences possible with both the use of civil remedies and SCP. While there are a number of sources in which these issues are discussed, Mazerolle and Ransley (2005) examine many of the arguments related to the use of civil remedies, particularly those related to overregulation, and von Hirsch, Garland, and Wakefield (2000) present arguments questioning the use of SCP measures that may overreach in terms of privacy interests. Arguments in defense of SCP are clearly set out in the chapter by Clarke in Wortley and Mazerolle (2008). Given the wide range of both civil remedies and SCP measures, it would be wise for planners to assess the types of civil remedies and SCP measures to be used in a particular location carefully prior to implementation. Planners may choose to favor noncoercive measures over the use of civil remedies whenever possible or choose the less-intrusive form of opportunity reduction where there is little difference expected in the crime-reduction outcome. Unintended consequences, such as an increase in fear of crime following an initiative, should not be ignored by planners just because they may be difficult to assess. The potential impact of a measure on area users, as well as potential offenders, must be considered.

Unresolved Issues And Future Controversies

At several points in this analysis, it was not clear exactly how an intervenor would attempt to frame a civil remedy to induce a controller to act. For example, how exactly do you convince a friend ora co-offender to “handle” an offender with a civil remedy? The situation, with its signals of possible danger, might be enough inducement for a co-offender to act, but what about a friend? Not only might it be difficult to envision what might work in such a situation, other than a desire to protect a friend from him or herself, it is not at all clear that the most desirable tool to use in this situation is one that involves coercion by the threat of legal action.

Another unresolved issue or future controversy centers on the place that lifestyle should hold in an opportunity-theory approach. All of the involvement models of RCP list “lifestyle” as an important consideration in the three main stages of offending – initiation, continuation (or habituation), and desistance (see Cornish and Clarke chapter in Wortley and Mazerolle 2008). Cornish (1994) also discussed lifestyle as a future consideration in terms of developing crime scripts. This factor has not been explored widely in SCP, but may be an important factor to consider when thinking about the broad scope of some civil remedies. Caution, however, is warranted since the use of civil remedies to disrupt “criminal lifestyles” would tend to produce more regulation and this regulation might not always be targeted to those parts of the lifestyle that are most closely linked to, or part of, a crime script. Limiting regulation to activities linked closely to crime commission means that it will be less likely to impinge on liberties, such as those involving protected aspects of movement or association.


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