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Understanding Situational Crime Prevention

Our Principal Consultant, Brad Poynting, recently attended a session run by Professor Stephen Smallbone in which the Professor shared a very simple message with big implications. He said, “We need to focus on ‘where dunnit’ and not ‘who dunnit’.” The Royal Commission has highlighted for us very clearly that focusing on identifying potential offenders based on personality traits and physical observations is unlikely to improve the level of safety offered to children. Again, Professor Smallbone provided a summary of this idea with only a few words, “often times, the only remarkable thing about a perpetrator is that they are a perpetrator. They are unremarkable in every other way.” Instead, Professor Smallbone advocates that we should focus on the environment and culture of the organisation itself in order to prevent child sexual abuse and a theoretical approach which does just that is Situational Crime Prevention (SCP).


SCP is by no means a new concept and it is not even a new concept as a prevention tool for child abuse and neglect. SCP seeks to prevent crime before it occurs in the first place. By focusing on the factors that enable crime, in this application, child sexual abuse, occurring in organisational settings. It does this by:

·         Increasing the effort

·         Increasing risk

·         Reducing the reward, and

·         Removing the excuses.


The Institute of Child Protection Studies at Australian Catholic University has released a short paper titled, ‘Understanding Situational Crime Prevention for Child Sexual Abuse: What services need to know.’ The paper was written by Sam Morley and Daryl Higgins which provides a brief conceptual overview of what SCP is, how it can be implemented in organisations and provides an introduction for organisations to conduct a self-risk assessment to determine how vulnerable their organisation is to child sexual abuse.


The sad reality is that all organisations that provide services to children are vulnerable to child sexual abuse – and all types of abuse and neglect. At Poynting Consulting & Advisory, we specialise with working alongside organisations to help them determine their level of risk and implement tools such as SCP to mitigate against that risk. If you would like to talk to our Principal Consultant about how PCA can work with you, please use our Contact page to start a conversation today.

Bradley Poynting