Hirschfield, Alex (2010) Exploring guardianship and broken windows in the context of terrorism: how far are there parallels with crime? In: ECCA Brisbane: Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis Symposium 2010, 5th - 7th July 2010, Morton Island, Brisbane, Australia. (Unpublished)

There are distinct differences between terrorism and crime risk. Despite heightened levels of fear, acts of terrorism are extremely rare, especially, when compared with high volume crime (e.g. burglary, auto theft, criminal damage) and even crimes against the person such as violence and assault. There are clear differences between criminal offenders and terrorists in motivation, ultimate goals and target selection. For example, economic gain and personal gratification underpin most criminal offending, whereas, terrorists are driven by ideology and seek advance a political, ideological or religious cause. For offenders, suitable targets include property, cash, vulnerable people, but for terrorists, may be iconic buildings, establishment figures and religious gatherings.

However, when it comes to capable guardianship against terrorism and crime there appears to be less of a difference with much of this being provided through the vigilance of residents, visitors, employees, law enforcement agencies and surveillance systems.

This Paper looks at the nature and role of guardianship in blocking off opportunities for terrorism and how far this differs from its use as a means of protection against crime. Factors that constitute ‘guardianship’ in the context of terrorism are explored (e.g. vigilance against ‘radicalisation’); those with the capacity to guard against terrorism are identified and the challenges of providing effective guardianship against terrorism are discussed.

Particular attention is paid to how far the mechanisms embedded in the notion of ‘broken windows’ as a trigger for crime, also apply to terrorism. The focus here is on whether or not equivalent factors to indifference to anti social behaviour and vandalism, that signal to offenders that they have the ‘green light’ to offend unchallenged, exist as precursors to terrorism. Possible candidates include desensitisation to and acceptance of hate speech and incitement leading to the justification of and ultimately perpetration for terrorist acts.

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