In order to understand the nature and methods of social crime prevention approach, one needs to frame it within the context of social development and social cohesion. In the United Nations, "social development is considered as one of the three components that define development, together with economic growth and environmental protection" (UN, 2010, para. 3). The Social Perspective on Development Branch of the United Nations Department for Social Policy and Development notes that, "a social perspective advocates a people-centered and participatory approach to development toward an inclusive, just and stable society" (UN, 2010, para. 1). They go on to say, "While public and policy concerns have given rise to a growing framework for economic growth and environmental protection, no such framework has been developed to address social issues" (UN, 2010, para.2). Social development has been used traditionally to address the problems of "social issues" such as "welfare matters" in a negative sense to see them as never being completely "resolved." Professor James Midgley, in his paper on globalisation and social development defines social development as: "The social development perspective insists on the integration of economic and social policy and gives expression to two axioms: first, it requires that economic development should be inclusive, integrated, and sustainable and bring benefits to all; and secondly, it proposes that social welfare should be investment oriented, seeking to enhance human capacities to participate in the productive economy" (Midgley, 2007, p.22). In keeping with the United Nations definition of social development, Ellseworth in his work "Advances in social ecology: journeys in crime prevention, community policing and social development" has identified social development as "social good" (Ellsworth, 2002, p.3) based on the notion of social, economic and environmental capital. Consideration and promotion of social justice is central to social perspectives on development. The creation of social policy is a key instrument. However, the development and implementation of social policy presents many difficulties, since most social issues are value-related. This is probably why "social development is most often defined by reference to specific social problems" (United Nations, 2010, para. 2), including the problems of crime prevention.
One cannot develop a shared meaning with reference to social development without dealing with the concept of building community capacity or social capital. One of four distinct approaches to social capital research has to do with synergy, which "emphasises incorporating different levels and dimensions of social capital and