Crime Prevention Studies, Volume 13

Analysis for Crime Prevention

Edited by Nick Tilly

Buy this volume from Lynne Rienner Publishers


The Time-window effect in the Measurement of Repeat Victimization: A Methodology for its Examination, and an Empirical Study
by Graham Farrell, William H. Sousa and Deborah Lamm Weisel

Crime control strategies and criminological theory have been increasingly informed by developments in the study of repeat victimization in recent years. As a consequence, the measurement of repeat victimization is an important issue. The outcome of the measurement of repeat victimization can influence the manner in which police and other agencies develop, implement and evaluate crime control efforts. In addition, the results of measurement can influence the theories and explanations that derive from empirical study. Among the several measurement issues that have been identified to date in relation to repeat victimization, a key issue is that of the "time-window effect." The term refers to the fact that the length of the period of observation directly affects the proportion of repeat victimization that is "captured." The present study has two key aims. First, it presents a method to measure the size of the time-window effect. Second, it tests this method empirically with residential burglary data from three cities. The implications for criminological research and crime control practice are then discussed.

Forecasting the Future of Predictive Crime Mapping
by Elizabeth R. Groff and Nancy G. La Vigne

While the use of mapping in criminal justice has increased over the last 30 years, most applications are retrospective - that is, they examine criminal phenomena and related factors that have already occurred. While such retrospective mapping efforts are useful, the true promise of crime mapping lies in its ability to identify early warning signs across time and space, and inform a proactive approach to police problem solving and crime prevention. Recently, attempts to develop predictive models of crime have increased, and while many of these efforts are still in the early stages, enough new knowledge has been built to merit a review of the range of methods employed to date. This chapter identifies the various methods, describes what is required to use them, and assesses how accurate they are in predicting future crime concentrations, or "hot spots." Factors such as data requirements and applicability for law enforcement use will also be explored, and the chapter will close with recommendations for further research and a discussion of what the future might hold for crime forecasting.

Hot Spots and Cold Comfort: The Importance of Having a Working Thermometer
by Michael Townsley and Ken Pease

The effective deployment of police resources is heavily dependent on the quality of analysis available. Over the past decade, the term "hot spots" has come to be commonplace in policing, and it is rare to find a police agency that cannot or does not identify spatial clustering of criminal incidents. Equally rare is the consideration of any other type of clustering. The following study highlights the existence of other dimensions that may provide more accurate tactical directives for the deployment of resources ("hot groups") or at least qualify the spatial clustering ("hot times").

Anticipatory Benefits in Crime Prevention
by Martha J. Smith, Ronald V. Clarke and Ken Pease

This chapter seeks to achieve three things, in decreasing order of importance: (1) To point out the basic phenomenon, i.e., the prematurity of many crime prevention effects relative to the point at which they would occur if they were the product of their presumed mechanism. This is termed anticipatory benefits. (2) To trawl published literature for instances of possible and probable anticipatory benefits. (3) To classify possible reasons for anticipatory benefits and to set out their implications.

Reducing Theft at Construction Sites: Lessons from a Problem-Oriented Project
by Ronald V. Clarke and Herman Goldstein

A building boom in Charlotte, NC led to sharp increases in the number of kitchen appliances stolen from houses under construction. This paper describes a problem-oriented policing project, extending over a period of more than two years, that was undertaken by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to address the problem. A detailed analysis of security practices and the risks of theft was made for 25 builders operating in one of the police service districts in the northern part of the county. This produced the recommendation that installation of appliances should be delayed until the new owners had taken up residence, thus effectively removing the targets of theft. Twelve of the larger builders agreed to experiment with this approach for a period of six months, though systematic checks made by police throughout the period found that builder compliance was variable. Despite this, analysis showed that delayed installation was an effective policy. Appliance theft declined in the district and there was no evidence of displacement of thefts to surrounding districts. The concluding discussion of the difficulties encountered by police in undertaking problem-oriented projects focuses on the vital role of crime analysis, and considers ways to strengthen analytic capacity in police departments.

From the Source to the Mainstream Is Uphill: The Challenge of Transferring Knowledge of Crime Prevention Through Replication, Innovation and Anticipation
by Paul Ekblom

Knowledge, in combination with pragmatic, cultural, organisational and conceptual factors, determines the performance of practitioners such as police, local government community safety officers and product designers. This paper addresses the serious and widespread obstacles to the transfer and application of knowledge generated by professional criminological research, development and evaluation, to the mainstream of practice in the overlapping fields of crime prevention and problem-oriented policing. The emphasis is on those obstacles inherent in the nature and form of knowledge itself. It therefore relates content-free concepts of knowledge management to content-rich considerations of the particular qualities of crime prevention knowledge and how it is applied in practice. It covers key issues of replication, innovation, and anticipation through, for example, foresight activities. It draws on ideas from design, evolutionary epistemology, memetics, more conventional anthropological views of cultural transmission and evolution, and organisational research on diffusion of innovation. The aim is to open up new ways of thinking centring on "genotypic" principles of prevention that apply across contexts and across time - which can provide the works of one of the renowned social scientist that this paper seems almost and exercise in the following of the Donald Campbell trail.

Methodological Issues in Working with Policy Advisers and Practitioners
by Gloria Laycock

This chapter considers what policy advisers and practitioners arguably need from researchers, and what they can reasonably expect. It goes on to discuss the implications of these needs and expectations for the methodologies used in research. But we begin with some definitions - what we mean by policy adviser, practitioner and researcher in this context, and why they need definition.