Research Key

Community Policing as a Strategy for the Reduction of Crime in Cameroon

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International: $20
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Executive Summary

Aim:  The aim of this study is to identify literature on crime prevention programmes and practices in developing countries.

Objective: To summarise studies of crime prevention programmes and practices in developing countries.

  • To summarise studies that help develop methodology for the analysis and evaluation of crime prevention programmes and practices in the search for evidence-based ‘what works’ research
  • To identify the degree to which such studies identified make specific reference to, and/or show the impact of such interventions on the

Main Results:

A total of 91 studies published between 1980 and 2002 were included in this review. Intervention types: The review included 82 studies with programmes and 31 studies with practices and this included 18 studies that had both programme and practice.

Using Sherman’s crime prevention institutional settings and two new additional settings health and media. The studies were broken down as follows: community based crime prevention: 63 studies; family based: 6 studies; school based: 14 studies; labour market and crime risk factor: 10 studies; preventing crime in places: 12 studies; policing for crime prevention: 45 studies; criminal justice and crime prevention: 55 studies; crime prevention from a health perspective: 3 studies; crime prevention using the media: 1 study.

Poverty focus of studies: 31 studies had a poverty focus; 37 studies had some reference to poverty and 25 studies had little or nothing by way of a specific poverty focus.

Regional perspective of studies that met the inclusion criteria: East Asia and the Pacific: 13 studies; Europe and Central Asia: 1 study; Middle East and North Africa: 3 studies; South Asia: 14 studies; Sub-Saharan Africa: 34 studies; Latin America and the Caribbean: 18 studies; Worldwide and others: 8 studies

Implications and Further Research:

There seems little dispute that, whatever the setting, widespread crime disrupts prospects for growth and development and reduces the quality of life for citizens, particularly the poorest groups. Despite the importance of crime reduction as a key social and economic target, the quality of research on criminal justice policy, and criminal justice interventions in particular, remains rather modest.

The central finding from our review is that there is little research on criminal justice policy in developing countries that uses the best practice rigorous scientific methods of the kind advocated by Sherman (1997) and Welsh & Farrington (2001) in the US and the UK. The research is largely descriptive or qualitative and produces few quantitative results of sufficient quality to contribute to an ‘evidence base’. It tends to be broad-brush analysis of the relationship between environmental and policy factors on the one hand and offender behaviour on the other. It rarely focuses on clearly defined interventions with pre-defined outcome measures and targets. It rarely has any ‘experimental’ dimension, such as a control group, and relies on making inferences about the prospects for crime reduction (prevention) from very noisy data. In many cases it is opinionated or relies on assertions that cannot be, or have not been, tested.

We argue that there is scope for making much greater use of experimental and related methods in the analysis of criminal justice policy. Most critically this approach relies on the use of policy pilots that make direct comparisons of outcomes achieved with and without clearly-defined criminal justice policy interventions. Comparisons of this kind are essential in order to derive reliable findings about the effectiveness of interventions and to begin building a reliable ‘evidence base’.

We go somewhat further and argue that this experimental approach nests naturally inside a broader framework of economic evaluation based on the principles of cost effectiveness analysis (CEA) and cost-benefit analysis (CBA). Use of this methodology is expanding rapidly in related fields, including the assessment of health care interventions. The Centre for Criminal Justice at York is fleshing out these methods at present for application in the UK as part of a major review of the Crime Reduction Programme launched by the Home Office in 1999.   We give some indications of how we think this framework might be applied to criminal justice policy in developing countries.

The very limited application of quantitative models to criminal justice policy issues in developing countries, evident from our review, underlines the ‘green field’ status of the area at present. Constructing a more solid foundation both for developing an evidence base on effectiveness and for conducting economic evaluations of Criminal Justice interventions in Developing Countries will be a major task. But it is a task that could bear substantial fruit

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