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Crime Prevention

Crime Prevention

"Prevention is the first imperative of justice " (United Nations document S/2004/616, para. 4)

"Crime Prevention comprises strategies and measures that seek to reduce the risk of crimes occurring, and their potential harmful effects on individuals and society, including fear of crime, by intervening to influence their multiple causes." Guidelines for the Prevention of Crime ECOSOC Resolution 2002/13, Annex.

Crime prevention is a multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, and integrated endeavour.

The introduction to the Guidelines for the Prevention of Crime indicates that: "There is clear evidence that well-planned crime prevention strategies not only prevent crime and victimization, but also promote community safety and contribute to sustainable development of countries. Effective, responsible crime prevention enhances the quality of life of all citizens. It has long-term benefits in terms of reducing the costs associated with the formal criminal justice system, as well as other social costs that result from crime." (Economic and Social Council resolution 2002/13, annex), (above) .

In 2005, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), in its Resolution 2005/22 Action to promote effective crime prevention, requested UNODC to achieve a balanced approach between crime prevention and criminal justice responses, and to further develop initiatives on crime prevention. In 2008, ECOSOC, in its Resolution 2008/24 Strengthening prevention of urban crime: an integrated approach, encouraged member states to integrate crime prevention considerations into all relevant social and economic policies and programmes in order to effectively address the conditions in which crime and violence can emerge.

In accordance with the United Nations standards and norms on crime prevention, UNODC actively contributes to international and national efforts to prevent and control crime. UNODC assists requesting member states to enhance the capacity of key crime prevention actors and systems to operate more effectively, with particular attention to vulnerable groups. To that effect,  UNODC works in close partnership with national and regional counterparts, other UN agencies, civil society organizations, academia, the business sector, and other key actors. UNODC also focuses on the development of specialized tools and manuals in support of policy making and the delivery of technical assistance.

Recognizing the multiple causes of crime and as the custodian of the United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice, UNODC promotes strategies, plans, and programmes, which are multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, and which favour civil society participation. Such strategies and action plans are underpinned by the basic principles for the prevention of crime (Guidelines for the Prevention of Crime, ECOSOC Resolution 2002/13, Annex) (above):

  • Government leadership at all levels is required to create and maintain an institutional framework for effective crime prevention.
  • Socio-economic development and inclusion refer to the need to integrate crime prevention into relevant social and economic policies, and to focus on the social integration of at-risk communities, children, families, and youth.
  • Cooperation and partnerships between government ministries and authorities, civil society organizations, the business sector, and private citizens are required given the wide-ranging nature of the causes of crime and the skills and responsibilities required to address them.
  • Sustainability and accountability can only be achieved if adequate resources to establish and sustain programmes and evaluation are made available, and clear accountability for funding, implementation, evaluation and achievement of planned results is established.
  • Knowledge base strategies, policies and programmes need to be based on a broad multidisciplinary foundation of knowledge, together with evidence regarding specific crime problems, their causes, and proven practices.
  • Human rights/rule of law/culture of lawfulness the rule of law and those human rights which are recognized in international instruments to which Member States are parties must be respected in all aspects of crime prevention, and a culture of lawfulness actively promoted.
  • Interdependency refers to the need for national crime prevention diagnoses and strategies to take into account, where appropriate, the links between local criminal problems and international organized crime.
  • The principle of differentiation calls for crime prevention strategies to pay due regard to the different needs of men and women and consider the special needs of vulnerable members of society.


Technical Assistance

UNODC offers assistance:

  • Promoting interventions based on knowledge gained through victimization surveys and crime statistics
  • Providing advisory services for the development and implementation of regional and national strategies and action plans
  • Supporting sector-specific programmes and projects with a particular focus on at-risk youth groups and the prevention of re-offending


For more detailed information on UNODC's work on crime prevention, please follow the links below:


See also:


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