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Does situational crime prevention require a rational offender?

Wortley, RK; Tilley, N; (2017) Does situational crime prevention require a rational offender? In: Reynald, DM and Leclerc, B, (eds.) The Future of Rational Choice for Crime Prevention. (pp. 8-29). Routledge: Abingdon, Oxon. Green open access

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Abstract

Opportunity preceded choice and choice preceded rational choice in the development of situational crime prevention theory. Rational choice was, thus, a post hoc theoretical supplement to the initial realisation that immediate situations furnish key conditions affecting criminal behaviour and that these situations could be modified for preventive purposes. Rational choice seemed to suggest a general mechanism that could link the situation to the act. Change the situation and the rational choices about what to do will also change. The disposition to offend is not so strong that individuals’ criminal behaviours are inexorable. Choice in general and rational choice in particular filled for a while a theoretical vacuum to make sense of the influence situations evidently exert on behaviour and has been used to inform further research. It also provided a heuristic for practitioners to think about changes to the situation that might influence prospective offenders’ decisions. Yet there is growing evidence that rational choice assumptions are implausible and unnecessary. They may now be inhibiting rather than facilitating progress in research and practice. Their weaknesses may also be detracting from the credibility of situational crime prevention more generally, both in academic and practitioner circles. It is argued here that theory and practice would both be improved by abandoning rational choice as the sole theoretical foundation for situational crime prevention. In its place, we outline ten tenets, which we argue more fully describe the role situations play in crime, and provide a framework for accommodating a wide range of situational theories and perspectives.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Does situational crime prevention require a rational offender?
ISBN: 1138217220
ISBN-13: 9781138217225
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.routledge.com/The-Future-of-Rational-C...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: rational choice perspective; situational crime prevention; environmental criminology; offender decision-making
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10030799
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