What’s what? Evaluating the mechanisms of crime reduction projects
|journal||Cahiers Politiestudies (ISSN: 1784-5300)|
|issue||25. Tides and currents in police theories|
|date of publication||Dec. 12, 2012|
The prevailing paradigm of finding out “what works” seems to unite criminological researchers in pursuing the goal of being ‘useful’ for policy and practice in policing. The paper explores the implications of a ‘mechanism-based’ approach to understanding the outcome of local crime prevention projects. It shows how a ‘theories of change’ approach can be developed to understand the process of implementation, and how interventions can be related to outcomes. Drawing on experience of evaluating the Home Office Reducing Burglary Initiative, this paper illustrates some of the contradictions and difficulties of the ‘what works’ paradigm. By comparing the RBI expected theory of change with a set of counterfactual explanations, the evaluation demonstrated the critical importance of understanding the implementation process, especially an emphasis on adaptability and problem solving rather than on planning and compliance.