World crime trends and emerging issues and responses in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice

The present document was prepared in accordance with the practice established pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 1990/18.

Crime prevention is often interpreted narrowly, focusing on techniques to resolve local crime problems. But what can be learned from broader crime trends, where national or international issues are at stake? The present report contains a brief overview of some of the most dramatic shifts in crime trends, and asks what these examples might imply about the role of the criminal justice system, and crime policy generally. Can targeted interventions really make a difference on a national or international scale?

The report contains an overview of some large-scale, dramatic reductions in different crimes and how they came about. It asks what can be learned from those crime prevention success stories. Taking advantage of the fact that the United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems captures both crime and criminal justice data for a large number of countries, the present report also contains an overview of striking regional reductions in homicide and of the issue of whether trends in the national criminal justice responses of the regions had any impact.