Victimology of Predatory Crimes and Prevention Techniques: Thefts and Robberies in the Process of Building a Sense of Insecurity

Victimology of Predatory Crimes and Prevention Techniques: Thefts and Robberies in the Process of Building a Sense of Insecurity

Daniele Veratti (Italian Society of Victimology, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1286-9.ch025
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It is a well-known fact that the construction of insecurity is not directly proportional to either the crime rate nor to the violence of crime. It follows autonomous dynamics which are generally linked to psychological and communicative factors. The generation and production of fears are a result of a complex intermixing of exogenous and endogenous factors related to the individual perception of main social phenomena. The chapter, having examined the principal types of robbery and theft, will develop the crime-fear relationship with specific concern in regard to the issue of self-defence. The author will subsequently analyse the tools which favour the prevention of theft and crime, with particular attention to security policies, management of the urban space, types of informal social control, and primary-secondary victimization, paying particular attention to the construction process of collective fears and the new forms of segregation/social exclusion.
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The process of construction of insecurity is not directly proportional to either crime rates or the violence of crime but follows autonomous dynamics in which the psychological and communication aspects play a significant role. To generate and reproduce the fears in individuals are a complex intertwining of exogenous and endogenous factors, attributable both to direct experience (in particular due to the fact of having been the victim of a traumatic event), and to the perception of the main social phenomena, of the crisis situations (economic and employment crises, health and environmental emergencies, natural disasters, etc.), of the care of the territory (and, more specifically, of the urban territory). The study of the relationship between the individual and space (space of life and built space) thus represents a stimulating key to reading the contemporary processes of construction of insecurity and victimization. When the individual perceives himself as fragile, he naturally tends to strengthen his most intimate barriers, closing himself up within “his” space and thus reducing the interaction with everything outside, considered dangerous. This defense mechanism manifests itself both individually and collectively.

In the ancient and medieval ages the walls protected the city and the citizens from the dangers coming from the outside world, today the “new” walls have the function of safeguarding the modern and opulent western societies from the risks of the foreigner, who - coming from the outside - is unknown, incomprehensible and, therefore, dangerous. With the design of the gated community, we try to reproduce the same protective-segregate mode of the ancient city, through the experimentation of hyper-controlled territories.

To the inhabitants of the liquid-modern world - says Bauman (2006, p. 90) - accustomed to practicing the art of liquid-modern life, moving away from discomfort is usually a better choice than facing it. At the first sign of evil, they seek a way out that has a solid enough door to lock themselves in.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Perceived Insecurity: Fear for the individual to remain the victim of an unspecified critical event, regardless of the real environmental condition in which he finds himself and of the real risk to which it is actually exposed.

Urban Segregation: Spatial organization, separated from the urban fabric, of certain categories of citizens who, due to economic, ethnic, defensive or cultural reasons, are far from the “formal” city or decide to leave.

Social Control: Regulation and social defense activities implemented by specific government agencies (formal social control) or by civil society through the active participation of citizens in the social life of the community and in informal instruments of territorial control (natural social control).

Urban Fear: A feeling of frustration and anxiety, developed among the inhabitants of the cities, derived from the fear, not always justified, for the citizen to remain a victim of a crime or a violent event.

Proximity Police: Model of ostensive police that has the function of producing prevention through a constant presence on the territory and a greater closeness to the citizens, with particular attention to the most fragile categories.

Community Policies: Interventions aimed at involving the community through the active participation of citizens in public decision-making processes.

Predatory Violence: A particularly violent criminal action, aimed at neutralizing a victim through disproportionate use of aggression, generally with the intent of stealing a good from them.

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