Review of Related Literature

A review of widely published literature engaged in active and long-standing study in community safety led us to foreign scholarly works, especially to those in the United Kingdom. The UK has long decentralized their community safety platform to more local levels and this is similar with our own Local Government Code of 1991. The UK’s exemplary sophistication in community safety research, their prodigious output, vigorous scholarly collisions, and the prominence of community safety research in the UK may be attributed to the formal, published, occasionally state-commissioned research tradition which was already energetic even in the early 80’s. Unlike in the UK, there seems to be no heated crucible of peer critiquing, theory contestation and refinement in the Philippines’s community safety research – hence, we did not find readily available, published output. Fortunately, we found out that it is not uncommon for UK output in this area to be exported to other countries. In fact, the Australian Government’s Institute of Criminology and Latin American countries like Mexico benefit from British scholarly works like Paul Ekblom’s conjunction of criminal opportunity (CCO). These prove that leading works from the UK tradition have reputed applicability in other contexts worldwide. Furthermore, the wide acceptance of their most influential works gives credibility to an attempt to borrow their output for community safety research in the Philippines – such as this inquiry into a local patrol system.

It is convenient to assume that a patrol system is immediately aimed at community safety. But Paul Wiles and Ken Pease caution that community safety is a multi-pronged effort towards the minimization of the number and seriousness of harm in the community; not only crime, but also accidents, serendipitous misfortunes, social volatility, health risks, environmental undesirables, among others, constitute harm. Conversely, they argue that crime prevention and/or crime reduction is just one of many avenues to community safety.
It is indeed plausible that a conceptual framework which directly subordinates patrol system to community safety may erroneously connote that crime-centered initiatives like patrol systems are the main avenue to community safety. Furthermore, directly subordinating patrol system to community safety exposes an undeniable conceptual gap. Here, the utility of Wiles and Pease’s argument becomes evident: a patrol system is not a direct subordinate to community safety. It can be viewed instead as a strategy of crime prevention, and in turn, crime prevention is an element of community safety.

To avoid the muddled analysis which the literature warns against, the definitions of crime prevention and its distinction from crime reduction deserve mention here. Ekblom’s body of work behind CCO helpfully defines crime reduction as a “present and future-oriented effort to reduce the number of crime and disorder events and the seriousness of their consequences, by intervening directly in the events and in their causes. This can be distinguished from crime prevention which is the “future-oriented efforts to reduce the risk of occurrence and the potential seriousness of crime and disorder events, by intervening in the causes.” Crime reduction deals with chronic conditions and even seeks to intervene in an event as it happens (present and future-oriented). In practice, there is little crime reduction efforts which don’t have preventive aspects. Similarly, successful crime prevention primarily seeks to pre-empt crime (future-oriented) and thus reduce the incidence of crime. Ekblom explicitly labels patrolling as a crime prevention effort.

Paul Ekblom’s framework of conjunction of criminal opportunity, one of the most widely-applied community safety concepts inside and outside Europe, is naturally an important work that cannot be missed. His framework is an integration of both the situation-related and offender-related causes which all conjunct into a crime or disorder event. The framework enumerates 11 pre-cursors of crime and also identifies interventions for each. The literature also enumerates factors which have been observed as central to practical success. According to Ekblom, capacity building-level is crucial and must be buttressed through technical know-how, equipment, money, leadership skills, access to crime preventers, among many others. Alternatively, Leslie Silverlock and Julia Stafford’s work provides a more parsimonious prescription that funding, standards, training and partnership increase chances of success.

Interestingly, Stafford and Silverlock’s claim of the importance of partnership resonates with other studies. Scott Ballintyne and Penny Fraser provide an evidence-based assertion that consultation and dialogue with stakeholders increase the effectiveness of efforts at community safety.

This section only tackled literature directly related to the construction of this case study’s conceptual framework. Other pertinent literature we surveyed will be introduced as needed.