Australian and Canadian cities have divergent histories in terms of their crime prevention and safer community initiatives, due to different structures of governance and variations in interest group politics. However, the similarities between the two nations are more striking than their differences. An examination of the past 15 years of senior government support for local crime prevention initiatives reveals a striking lack of consensus about the ‘crime problem’ to be combated, resulting in an inconsistent and discontinuous set of supports.
This paper briefly outlines the state of crime prevention and community safety initiatives in both countries, followed by an analysis of practical and theoretical dilemmas in getting to the first stage of community safety planning, that of problem identification. I will pay particular attention to the difficulty experienced at all levels of government in accommodating the notion of difference, particularly gender difference, in problem analysis. Universalist assumptions and the gulf between rhetoric and meaningful action continue to block local abilities to make communities safer and prevent violence.