Step 8: Use the problem analysis triangle
- For the target/victim, this is the capable guardian of the original formulation of routine activity theory - usually people protecting themselves, their own belongings or those of family members, friends, and co-workers. Guardians also include public police and private security.
- For the offender, this is the handler, someone who knows the offender well and who is in a position to exert some control over his or her actions. Handlers include parents, siblings, teachers, friends and spouses. Probation and parole authorities often augment or substitute for normal handlers.
- For the place, the controller is the manager, the owner or designee who has some responsibility for controlling behavior in the specific location such as a bus driver or teacher in a school, bar owners in drinking establishments, landlords in rental housing, or flight attendants on commercial airliners.
Problem Analysis Triangle
- Repeat offending problems involve offenders attacking different targets at different places. These are ravenous WOLF problems. An armed robber who attacks a series of different banks is an example of a pure wolf problem. Wolf problems occur when offenders are able to locate temporarily vulnerable targets and places. The controllers for these targets and places may act to prevent future attacks, but the offenders move on to other targets and places. It is the lack of control by handlers that facilitates wolf problems.
- Repeat victimization problems involve victims repeatedly attacked by different offenders. These are sitting DUCK problems. Taxi drivers repeatedly robbed in different locations by different people is an example of a pure duck problem. Duck problems occur when victims continually interact with potential offenders at different places, but the victims do not increase their precautionary measures and their guardians are either absent or ineffective.
- Repeat location problems involve different offenders and different targets interacting at the same place. These are DEN of iniquity problems. A drinking establishment that has many fights, but always among different people, is an example of a pure den problem. Den problems occur when new potential offenders and new potential targets encounter each other in a place where management is ineffective. The setting continues to facilitate the problem events.
When crime is occurring, all inner elements of the triangle must be present and all outer elements weak or absent. If potential offenders are constantly present, for example, but crimes occur only when guardians are absent, then rescheduling guardians might be a useful solution. Ask yourself, "What does the problem analysis triangle look like before, during, and after crimes?"
Understanding how problems are created by opportunities will help you think about what might be done to: prevent offenders from reoffending by making better use of handlers; help victims reduce their probabilities of being targets; and to change places where problems occur, be these schools, taverns, or parking lots. In short, right from the beginning, it helps you to focus data collection on those six aspects most likely to lead to practical solutions.
What is Crime Science?
Traditional criminology seeks to improve understanding of the psychological and social forces that cause people to become criminals in the hope of finding ways to change these causes. Crime science takes a radically different approach. It focuses not on the reasons why criminals are born or made, but on the act of committing crime. It seeks ways to reduce the opportunities and temptations for crime and increase the risks of detection. In doing so, it seeks contributions from a wide range of disciplines, including psychology, geography, medicine, town planning, and architecture. Crime science explicitly seeks to be judged by the extent to which it helps to reduce crime on our streets, and in our homes and businesses.
Source: Jill Dando Institute for Crime Science. (2004). www.jdi.ucl.ac.uk