Evaluating crime prevention: Lessons from large-scale community crime prevention programs

This article by Anthony Morgan and Peter Homel of the Australian Institute of Criminology discusses the importance of evaluation in crime prevention. They argue that previous evaluations of community crime prevention programs have been of a low standard, and examine some of the factors contributing to this. They give several recommendations for best practice in this area of evaluation.


"A basic principle underpinning modern crime prevention is that it requires the practical application of research and evaluation findings in the development and implementation of strategies to reduce crime (AIC 2012; ECOSOC 2002). Evaluation is therefore an important prerequisite for effective crime prevention. A good evaluation can determine whether a program has been implemented as planned (and if not why not), what outcomes have been delivered as a result, whether the stated objectives of that program have been achieved and the reasons that a program did or did not work. This can inform improvements to that program, as well as decisions about whether it should be continued. It also contributes to the development of a sound evidence base that can be used by policymakers and practitioners in deciding what to do to (and how to do it) to address the crime problems that confront them.

However, despite growing recognition and support for the evaluation of crime prevention efforts internationally (Bodson et al. 2008; Idriss et al. 2010), several reviews of local crime prevention programs delivered in Australia have highlighted notable deficits in both the amount and quality of evaluation practice (Anderson & Homel 2005; Anderson & Tresidder 2008; Homel et al. 2007; Willis & Fuller 2012). This has had important implications for the quality of the evidence base available to decision makers in this country.

In this paper, the factors that have impacted on the standard of evaluation in large-scale community crime prevention programs are examined. Drawing upon a number of crime prevention capacity building projects undertaken by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), several recommendations to enhance the level and quality of crime prevention evaluation are proposed."


  • Forward   1
  • Abstract  1
  • Community crime prevention in Australia  2
  • The crime prevention evidence base  2
  • Evaluation good practice  3
  • The National Community Crime Prevention Programme and Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 funding program  4
  • Recommendations for improving the level and quality of crime prevention evaluation  5
  • Conclusion  10
  • References  11



Morgan, A. and Homel, P. (2013, July). 'Evaluating crime prevention: Lessons from large-scale community crime prevention programs' in Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice (no. 458) pp.441-460.

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