The development of knowledge on crime prevention construction
and management of metros can be seen as a process that elapsed
in a non-linear fashion. Therefore, these can be divided into
different distinguishable phases. In the early days of metro construction
(1863 till the early 1960's), no consideration whatsoever was
given towards a preventive design, planning, or management of
the metro systems. Crime rates were relatively low and crime prevention
knowledge was virtually non-existent. The only form of crime control
at the time was repression and this was working fine both in the
societies as a whole and within the first constructed metro systems.
This situation changed, however, in the 1960's when the crime
climate in the Western societies began to deteriorate. Crime rates
boosted and conventional repressive techniques proved to be no
longer adequate. The then existing metro companies tried hard
to combat crime with the tactics of 'target hardening'; iron fences,
steel doors, and dog patrols were utilized in the hope that they
could deter crime. Although these techniques had some effects,
they also had serious deteriorating repercussions on the looks
and atmosphere of the metro systems, and consequently, the feelings
of insecurity and well-being of the passengers and metro personnel.
The mid 1970's can be seen as the dawning of a new era. By then,
scientific knowledge on crime prevention techniques had developed
to such a level that it was fit to be put into practical use.
Little by little, metro companies started to benefit from the
newly emerged knowledge and began to devote attention to a more
preventive approach to crime. Target hardening techniques were
abandoned more and more and the preventive focus was directed
more towards the improvement of visibility, social control, and
environmental friendliness. The breakthrough to this latest phase
was made in 1976 when the Washington D.C. Metro opened its doors.
The construction of this system revolutionized metro design as
it had given top priority to crime prevention and, therefore,
incorporated the latest knowledge in that field.
Although there has certainly been an international accumulation
of practical and theoretical knowledge on crime prevention strategies
which are successful within metro systems, this does not mean
that this available knowledge has also been utilized to the full.
Not every new metro system was constructed in a safer way than
its predecessors. Existing systems often had to deal with the
handicap of old but influential bureaucratic organisations and
original system constructions in their ability to radically reorganise
their crime prevention policy and actions. There have been a number
of crime prevention studies on specific aspects of the metro.
However, overall studies on the scope and nature of subway crime
and the possibilities and effectiveness of crime prevention actions
are rare. Crime prevention plans of metro companies are more often
based on the intuition and personal opinions of managers than
on in-depth research. The few studies that have been done are
based on local information and rarely surpass the borders of the
country or even the local system. And saddest of all: crime prevention
knowledge is sufficiently available within the international community
of metro companies, but scattered among the different systems.
This is especially true for knowledge on the various crime prevention
strategies. Some metro companies are real masters in the utilization
of one crime prevention technique (e.g. the facilitation of policing)
but have little to no knowledge of other techniques (e.g. stimulation
of involvement). They think that they are doing their utmost in
combatting crime within their system, but what they don't know
is that their approach is one-sided and ignoring the fact that
crime prevention can only be really effective when it is made
up by a set of mutually reinforcing strategies.
Right now, we are at the doorstep of yet another phase in the
history of metro crime control: the integration of crime prevention
into the general goal for Total Quality Management and a higher
level of passenger service. In this new era, crime control will
no longer be seen as a goal in itself but more and more as a cost-effective
means to establish a friendlier atmosphere, better company image,
and higher revenue. Crime prevention measures will become less
focused on crime prevention alone. They will become more integrated
into the planning and design of the system, the day-to-day management
routine of the organisation, and less obvious to the unweary passenger.
This approach will not only prove to be friendlier; it will also
be more effective in terms of crime prevention and beneficial
to other company goals such as accident and fire prevention, image
enhancement, cost reduction, and revenue increase.