Crime prevention involves much more than criminal law, police investigation, prosecution, sentencing and punishment.
Strengthening crime prevention is a priority of the Federal Government, as expressed in its Coalition Agreement. When it comes to internal security, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is why the Federal Government believes that, along with rigorously pursuing crimes committed, strengthening preventive measures can significantly help fight crime.
Crime prevention follows a three-step model: primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention measures attempt to involve large segments of the population to counteract conditions conducive to crime, for example by seeking to teach children and young people how to resolve conflicts without recourse to violence. Secondary prevention seeks to reduce opportunities for crime, for example through the use of technical devices such as alarm systems or immobilizers to prevent car theft. Lastly, tertiary prevention is directed at those who have committed crimes and seeks to keep them from becoming repeat offenders, for example by teaching them occupational skills in prison.
But crime prevention is not only the responsibility of policy-makers and police at federal and state level; it is also the duty of society as a whole – public and private agencies, the private sector, the media and the population – to take responsibility and do its part to prevent crime.
With this in mind, the German cycling club ADFC, the German Insurance Association (GDV), the bicycle industry association ZIV, the Lower Saxony state criminal police office, the Federal Criminal Police Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior jointly drafted a position paper on preventing bicycle theft with the aim of reducing the high incidence of stolen bicycles. The paper includes recommendations for the police, for bicycle manufacturers and sellers as well as special recommendations for communities and schools.
In order to enhance the effectiveness of preventive measures, activities by relevant organizationsare being coordinated. The federal and state police forces have developed a nation-wide crime prevention programme called ProPK, which informs the public, media and agencies involved in preventive efforts about what to watch out for and how to prevent crime. By conducting systematic surveys, the programme is able to concentrate on current needs, which include drug-related crimes, sexual crimes, theft and break-ins, violence, robbery, fraud and youth crime.
But law enforcement outreach alone cannot reach all possible groups and institutions which could help prevent crime. For this reason, the German Forum for Crime Prevention (DFK), a charitable foundation under private law, was created in July 2001 to serve as a national prevention body. The Coalition Agreement of 20 October 1998 had called for founding such a body in order to fight the causes of crime using prevention. The DFK brings together representatives of government agencies and non-governmental organizations in order to develop and promote interdisciplinary strategies. The DFK creates links between the numerous federal, state and local prevention initiatives, thereby strengthening them and creating a nation-wide network of crime prevention strategies, programmes and measures.
With its decision of 28 May 2001, the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council created the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN), consisting of up to three national points of contact per Member State. In Germany, these are the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry of Justice and the DFK. The points of contact must cover the entire range of crime prevention. The network’s objective is to further develop the various aspects of crime prevention at EU level and to support crime prevention measures at local and national level. It is dedicated to preventing crime in every form, with particular emphasis on youth crime, urban crime and drug-related crime. In addition to promoting cooperation, contacts and the sharing of information and experience, the network’s tasks include gathering and analysing crime data and information about existing measures and best practices of crime prevention.