Patricia L. Brantingham, Paul J. Brantingham, Justin Song, and Valerie Spicer
This chapter discusses advances in visualization for environmental criminology. The environment within which people move has many dimensions that influence or constrain decisions and actions by individuals and by groups. This complexity creates a challenge for theoreticians and researchers in presenting their research results in a way that conveys the dynamic spatiotemporal aspects of crime and actions by offenders in a clearly understandable way. There is an increasing need in environmental criminology to use scientific visualization to convey research results. A visual image can describe underlying patterns in a way that is intuitively more understandable than text and numeric tables. The advent of modern information systems generating large and deep data sets (Big Data) provides researchers unparalleled possibilities for asking and answering questions about crime and the environment. This will require new techniques and methods for presenting findings and visualization will be key.
Sara K. Thompson
Most criminological theory and research on the black homicide victimization is grounded in the American context, which raises important generalizability issues given the exceptional level of lethal violence that is used as the standard in this inquiry. This case study examines the social and spatial distribution of black homicide victimization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada between 1988 and 2003. Results suggest that, as in American cities, blacks in Toronto are over-represented as homicide victims and offenders, but there are important differences in the spatial distribution and ecological correlates of this violence. These findings highlight the importance of cross-national research when investigating the generalizability of findings from U.S.-based research on racially disaggregated homicide rates.
In recent years, the field of social simulation has been dominated by the individual, or agent-based, computational model (ABM). ABMs provide unique means to explore complex social systems by allowing researchers to construct explicit models of the individual actors and interactions that make them up - people, peer groups, companies, nations, trade, reproduction, victimization, and so on, This chapter aims to provide the reader with a primer in the social simulation method and in particular the application of ABM in the field of environmental criminology. It begins by discussing the rationale behind the ABM approach. Subsequently, drawing on two illustrative simulations, it summarizes fundamental processes involved in designing, constructing, verifying, calibrating, validating, and utilizing ABM. It concludes by discussing some of the overarching strengths and limitations of the approach, and by discussing several areas of research that might aid in furthering the use of ABM within the field of environmental criminology.
This article discusses key methodological issues that are germane to understanding some of the parameters for developing a sound knowledge base on temporal crime patterns. It then surveys the landscape of what we currently know, focusing initially on the description and explanation of crime trends in the United States and elsewhere through the late 1950s, then addressing comparable themes since that time, which are labeled as the “contemporary period”. The concluding section outlines directions for future research.
Deciding on the “Appropriate” Unit of Analysis: Practical Considerations in Environmental Criminology
One of the primary decisions of any research endeavor is to identify where the information necessary for successfully completing the study is going to come from. In traditional criminological research this is a relatively easy question to answer. When we want to know about victims, we study victims. When we want to know about agents of the criminal justice system, we speak to them directly. However, the study of environmental criminology, or crime at places, does not have such a straightforward gatekeeper to this information. This chapter addresses the following question: What is the appropriate unit of analysis for research? It starts by considering the importance of the decision, followed by a series of concerns often associated with this decision-making process. It highlights how changing units of analysis can suggest different ecological patterns. It concludes with a discussion of how these considerations may impact our findings.
John R. Hipp and Christopher J. Bates
This chapter focuses on a different conception of ecological space known as egohoods. It motivates the use of egohoods regarding the three features of routine activities theory: suitable targets, motivated offenders, and capable guardians. It discusses the spatial patterns of these three concepts and how egohoods as a geographic unit are well suited to capture their dynamic processes. It asks: what are the consequences of sociodemographic and business pattern changes in egohoods for the distribution of crime? Does the change in egohoods have similar implications for crime as does the change in meso-units such as neighborhoods, or microunits such as street segments? The chapter provides an empirical examination of these questions using data from the city of Los Angeles from 2000–2010 of robbery and burglary events.
Jacob Stowell and Stephanie DiPietro
Despite a substantial increase in scholarly attention to immigration and crime at both individual and aggregate levels, important gaps in knowledge remain. Much work has focused on the criminal behavior of immigrants, and comparatively little on their victimization. Given political controversies about immigration law reform, the dearth of research on immigrants as crime victims is a critical omission. A comprehensive review of the literature shows no association between increases in the size of the foreign-born population and increased risks to public safety. Analyses of the comparative homicide risks for foreign-born people compared with the American population generally, and for immigrant groups of different national origins, for 1994–2004, a period of exponential growth in the foreign-born population, reveal a number of interesting patterns with respect to immigrant homicide victimization patterns, both between groups and over time.
Exploring the methods behind sexual violence estimates: The Composition and Findings from National and International Surveys
Bonnie S. Fisher and Heidi L. Scherer
This essay documents the innovations that have been made to improve measuring the scope and dimensions of sexual violence over the last four decades. How sexual violence has been defined and operationalized and methodological factors (e.g., context, two-stage measurement process, question wording, reference period, and mode of administration) are compared and contrasted for several national-level victimization data sources. This essay explores the development of a number of national and international surveys designed to estimate the scope and dimensions of different types of sexual violence. This essay also includes a cross-national examination of sexual violence rates focusing on both differences and similarities across countries, concluding with a discussion of unresolved measurement issues. It also provides thoughts on future directions in measuring sexual violence.
This chapter sorts out some of the ideas that are sometimes mixed together under the rubric of “social disorganization.” It argues that (1) social disorganization is really not an independent variable or a theory; (2) rather, it is a composite image of the “delinquency area”—the part of town that also has very high crime rates; and (3) this composite image can be disentangled and then clarified, allowing students to learn it and researchers to sharpen their findings. The chapter extracts four distinct images of the delinquency area in the effort to clarify the topic, help people learn it, and assist researchers.
The importance of spatial-temporal dimension(s) within environmental criminology has made the use and applications of geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial analysis rather widespread. This chapter covers some of the principles and advancements in the use of crime mapping and spatial analysis to study the spatial distribution of crime, primarily through the lens of environmental criminology. Crime mapping is defined as the spatial representation of crime (in the context of criminal events) on a map. Consequently, in order to do so, one must have geographic coordinates for each criminal event to place it on a map. There are three primary ways in which spatially referenced data can be presented: points, lines, and areas. Most often, criminal event data are represented as points (dot maps) or areas (census tracts or neighborhoods, for example), but maps considering lines (street segments) are becoming more commonplace.