Super Controllers and Crime Prevention

Super controllers and crime prevention: A routine activity explanation of crime prevention success and failure


Security Journal, (2010). Vol. 23, pgs. 37–51. DOI:10.1057/sj.2009.17


Rana Sampson, John E Eck and Jessica Dunham

Why does crime prevention fail? And under what conditions does it succeed? Routine Activity Theory provides the foundation for understanding crime and its patterns by focusing on variations in the convergence of offenders, targets and controllers in space and time. But Routine Activity Theory does not provide a full understanding of why the controllers may be absent or ineffective. This article expands Routine Activity Theory to explain controllers.It claims that the behaviors of controllers can be understood in the context of their relationship with super controllers – those who regulate controllers’ incentives to prevent crime. The article lists and describes types of super controllers. Drawing on a rational choice perspective and Situational Crime Prevention, the article examines the methods super controllers use to regulate the conduct of controllers. Examples are used throughout to illustrate specific points and to show the diversity of super controlling. This article concludes with a discussion of the implication of super controllers for the practice of crime prevention and research into crime reduction methods.

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