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Facets of Environmental Criminology and Stages of Environmental Manipulation

Environmental criminology is a product or an offshoot of traditional criminology that is basically concerned with studying why criminals commit crimes. Thus, this study doctrine assumes that criminal activities and motivations exist, and little can be done to reduce the number of offenders. Thus, environmental criminology’s primary focus is on more than just studying why people commit crimes but on how to address crime itself. As aforementioned, this study stream assumes that crimes already exist; hence, it focuses on how to make it tougher to accomplish criminal activities using multiple environmental manipulations. Environmental manipulation is employed regarding targeted environments, such as residential, transportation, and open areas. This essay utilizes a critical discourse of qualitative analysis on a selection of scholarly resources with deep knowledge in environmental criminology to study multiple facets of environmental criminology as well as stages of environmental manipulation.

Most crime control strategies discussed in previous prompts focus on the offender themselves, assuming that criminal behaviour can be reformed due to the threat of hefty sanctions, such as deterrence-based policies. Environmental criminology, however, assumes a different approach. This criminology doctrine assumes that criminal behaviour cannot be changed; therefore, it focuses on reducing criminal opportunities or making it harder for them to commit the crime. Worall. (2019) points out environmental criminology is not employed as a reactive approach to the criminal problem; however, one of its doctrines, situational crime prevention, dictates that situations can encourage the occurrence of crime, and thus they can be targeted to address future crime.

Environmental criminologists utilize theories that mainly focus on why crime is supposedly concentrated in specific locations or given times. To begin with, the rational offender approach assumes the approach that an offender is a rational being; hence they will weigh the benefits and costs of committing the law. Worall. (2019) captions routine activities theory argues that offenders will choose to commit a crime that poses minimal risks, has high benefits, and requires minimal effort from the offender. The offender will consider a crime with minimal risks affiliated with it such that they can easily access and out of the targeted location without being noticed. Worall. (2019) also outlines another theoretical perspective, the crime pattern theory, that focuses on the interplay between behavioural and awareness spaces. Behavioural spaces refer to targeted locations that offenders have repeatedly visited over their daily lives. Awareness spaces refer to locations that the offender is conversant with.

Now that the study has explored various facets and theories that govern environmental criminology and strategies employed to address criminal loopholes, it is imperative to shed light on the effectiveness of environmental manipulation, which is discussed in four major categories. The first category focuses on the effectiveness of control of criminal opportunities in business areas (Worall, 2019). The second one focuses on residential areas. The third category turns attention to transportation. The fourth focuses on public areas such as open spaces and parking garages.

A large pool of studies has focused on the environmental design in both traditional and high-traffic residential areas both around them and inside them. Some common techniques include property marking, pedestrian access restriction, using closed circuit television monitoring systems (CCTV), target hardening, and other assorted interventions that aid in reducing the available crime opportunities. Target hardening is the most common intervention, involving improved door locks and other multifaceted home security systems. The English public housing research findings indicate the application of this strategy aided in reducing burglary by 52% with the marked treatment areas. However, Worall. (2019) points out that more research should be conducted on this crime prevention strategy. Property marking is another common crime opportunity prevention approach within residential areas known as operation identification.

Some standard environmental manipulation techniques in locations surrounding residential areas include restricting pedestrian access to targeted neighbourhoods and using closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs). Worall. (2019) outlines how pedestrian access can be limited, altered, diverted, or restricted. A paradigmatic example of pedestrian access hails from Chicago included housing project manipulations such as increasing the guard stations equipped with metal detectors, police inspections of the upcoming building, ground floor building access restrictions, and use of building access cards.

According to Worall. (2019), research has indicated that applying the above-mentioned environmental manipulations has significantly reduced given types of crimes. On the other hand, closed-circuit televisions are a novel environmental manipulation technique used in discouraging crime and monitoring places. According to Worall. (2019) the use of this technique can be expensive and cheap. This technology can be expensive because several live cameras are employed as they require multiple observers or guards for surveillance. Fake surveillance cameras also give people the impression that they are being observed, reducing crime opportunities.

Several crimes occur within the public transit systems, such as robberies, vandalism, fare evasion, assault on other passengers, and other less punitive crimes. However, further safety changes have been enacted on major transit systems recently due to the concern of them being terrorist targets. Some of the interventions that have been deployed include improving the physical appearance of the public transit systems, such as intensive graffiti cleanup with major subways such as New York subways. Another imperative intervention assumed is the installation of closed-circuit cameras in the subways, followed by public education, especially among the youth, which effectively reduces crimes related to vandalism and harassment of passengers.

In conclusion, the environmental criminologist has also expressed a high interest in environments such as businesses, mass transit, residences, and areas surrounding residential areas. Car burglary and theft within parking areas such as garages also pose a major threat to environmental criminologists, especially in less monitored regions. Some novel environmental techniques they deploy to address such problems include restricting multiple entries and placing additional guard points, closed circuit cameras, and security guards. Lastly, a study on the environmental criminology field establishes a successive growth in the knowledge, probably due to infrastructural and technological innovations such as the use of closed circuit camera systems, street lighting, and target hardening, amongst many others.


Snaphaan, T., & Hardyns, W. (2021). Environmental criminology in the significant data era. European Journal of Criminology18(5), 713-734.

Worrall, J. L. (2019). Crime control in America: What works? Pearson.


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