Sydney Law School lecturer discusses misconceptions about crime

20 October 2017

Punishment isn’t always the answer to reduce crime.

Sydney Law School lecturer discusses misconceptions about crime
Host Chris Neff – Open for Discussion podcast

How do we encourage people not to break the law? Most times we think of crime, it’s after the fact. But what if through certain measures we could stop a crime before it happens? No, it’s not a Tom Cruise movie, simply the idea that through certain measures, the opportunity for crime may be removed.

Dr Garner Clancey from Sydney Law School joined Open for Discussion to chat crime statistics and the strategies used today to prevent crimes. Dr Garner Clancey, a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Sydney Law School, is an expert in crime prevention and statistics and over the past 25 years has worked with NSW Police, the Department of Juvenile Justice and other government organisations on a number of crime prevention strategies.

Here, Dr Clancey shares four misconceptions about crime:

Myth 1: The crime rate is going up

We’re not in the grips of a crime wave. In fact, the overall crime rate in NSW has been declining since the turn of the millennium. In the UK the crime rate began declining around 1995, while in the US it began to fall in 1990, 1991.

And the falls have been quite dramatic. For example, in the year 2000 there were approximately 82,000 incidents of burglary per year in NSW, while last year it was only 32,000. And the murder rate in the state is the lowest it’s been in 40 years.

Problem is, no one can explain the major drop—it’s criminology’s “dirty little secret!

Myth 2: Closed circuit television is a good prevention tool

CCTV can be successful in preventing thefts from shops; however, the data shows that for public places it’s really not all that useful.

People may not know the cameras are there, especially if they’re intoxicated, so continue with the behaviour anyway. And those watching the cameras may not realise anything criminal is going on so can’t do anything to stop the crime.

Some cameras aren’t even monitored, so are only helpful for identification once a crime has been committed.

Myth 3: Putting people in prison stops crime

Prison is a big investment without a great return.

It costs the state approximately $200 a day to incarcerate an adult in NSW, while it costs nearly $1,000 a day to incarcerate a juvenile. It’s further reported that nearly half of those leaving prison today in NSW will return to prison within two years.

Myth 4: All crimes are reported equally

For those crimes that people need to report for insurance reasons, such as car theft or house break ins, we know the statistics are fairly accurate—not much goes unreported. Unfortunately, the opposite is true for sexual assault and domestic violence. This means that the recent rise in those crimes is only telling part of the story.

Listen to Dr Garner Clancey on SoundCloud, subscribe on iTunes.

Christopher Pepin-Neff is a lecturer in Public Policy in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. His research interests include theories of the policy process, policy analysis, the role of policy entrepreneurs, and comparative public policy.

About the University of Sydney Law School Juris Doctor

The Sydney Law School is Australia’s first. Since its inception, it has been at the forefront of developments associated with both the teaching and research of law. Its strong sense of commitment to the fundamentals of law is combined with a commitment to innovation and the exploration of issues at the cutting edge.

The Sydney JD comprises the core legal subjects required throughout the world for professional accreditation coupled with the study of a wide range of elective subjects which allows advanced learning in both specialized fields and law in general. Teaching and learning methodology includes a wide range of formats to allow individual choice, a deep understanding of the law, independent research and the development of the skills and ethics inherent in modern professional practice.

Program: Juris Doctor
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Duration: 3 years
Semester intake: March
Application deadline: Candidates are strongly encouraged to apply a minimum of three months prior to the program start date.

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