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.
Alex R. Piquero and Douglas B. Weiss
This article gives an overview of the heterogeneity observed in delinquency and criminal careers. It begins with a discussion of the classic age–crime relationship, which has formed the basis for much of the theoretical, empirical, and policy discussion regarding crime and criminals. Following this, it discusses the criminal career framework that parcels the longitudinal patterning of criminal offending into different dimensions, and overviews the theories it helped to generate. Furthermore, the article reviews some of the key empirical investigations that have assessed hypotheses emerging from these theories. It then highlights several promising future research directions that are anticipated to help fill some of the gaps in understanding the heterogeneity among offenders. It concludes with a brief discussion about the policy implications emerging from theoretical and empirical literature surrounding offender heterogeneity.
Luca Berardi and Sandra Bucerius
The literature on generational differences in crime and victimization in the United States and Western Europe reveals striking variations in patterns within and across racial and ethnic groups. By the turn of the twentieth century, scholars had already begun to disaggregate offending patterns across immigrant generations. Findings can be disaggregated by crime (e.g., homicide, violent crime, delinquency, and substance abuse) and types of victimization (e.g., nonfatal and fatal). Among the challenges in measuring generational differences in crime among immigrant populations are a shortage of available data that accounts for generational status, definitional issues with key terms such as “immigrant” and “native-born,” and both the need to and difficulties in disaggregating data by race, ethnicity, and types of crime.
Juvenile Delinquents and Juvenile Justice Clientele: Trends and Patterns in Crime and Justice System Response
Howard N. Snyder
This article presents an empirically based profile of the law violating behavior of youth and the juvenile justice system's response to such behaviors over the last generation. It begins with documenting trends in juvenile violent crime and drug abuse behavior using reports on or by victims and juvenile offender self-reports. Following this, it discusses trends in juvenile law-violating behaviors known to law enforcement using arrest statistics. The juvenile justice system's response to law-violating behavior is not a mechanical process. The article also explores trends in the juvenile justice system's responses to these officially recognized behaviors. The statistical resources used to build this picture have unique characteristics that need to be understood to interpret the findings properly. Finally, it mentions the decision makers that play a role in deciding whether or not juvenile crime trends mirror juvenile arrest, juvenile court referral, and juvenile out-of-home placement trends.
Ramiro Martinez and Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco
Recent population changes, public anxieties, and political concerns about foreign-born newcomers have brought studies of immigration and crime to the forefront of criminological theory, policy, and research. A burgeoning body of research examines the effects of immigration on crime and patterned differences in criminality between immigrants and the native-born. A number of influential theoretical frameworks can be drawn upon to formulate predictions that immigrants are likely to commit a disproportionate amount of crime. The specialized literature provides data that supports the opposite conclusions—that immigration does not increase crime and that new immigrants have lower crime rates than native-born residents. More research examining the indirect effects of immigration is needed. However, immigrants rarely commit a disproportionate amount of crime. Politicians’ claims that immigration exacerbates crime problems lack empirically basis.
Louise Grove and Graham Farrell
This article introduces the concept of repeat victimization, which is defined as the repeated criminal victimization of a person, business, place, vehicle, household, etc. Four decades worth of research determine that most crimes are repeats of some kind, and that crime is not randomly distributed. It states that the evidence strongly suggests that avoiding repeat victimization can be an effective crime-prevention strategy. It then considers the effectiveness of former efforts to prevent repeat victimization and looks at how prevention efforts were developed and subsequently implemented.
Despite the serious policy implications of research on the influence of race and ethnicity on crime, definitions and measurements of these constructs vary across the major sources of crime data. Important generalizations can nonetheless be drawn. Overall, Native Americans, blacks, and Latinos are more likely to be affected by crime than are whites and Asians. There is much scholarly debate on the causes of these differences, partly centering on methodological differences between data sources. Two central issues—definitions and measurements of race and ethnicity in major crime data sources and the lasting effect of these methodological variations on theoretical explanations aimed at understanding their connection—need to be much better understood.
Reka Solymosi and Kate J. Bowers
Environmental criminology emphasizes the importance of situational factors associated with increased risk in terms of crime opportunities. One branch of research in this field is oriented toward strengthening the scientific approach to understanding the link between exposure to risk and crime. To achieve this, we need data about how potential victims and potential offenders spend their time, and what places they visit as part of their daily activities. This chapter lays out the potential of novel data sets and then considers in detail two of these new approaches. The first approach involves utilizing advances in technology and sensing to develop bespoke surveys created with specific research studies in mind. The second makes use of existing “big data” or “open-access data” sources on people’s everyday interactions with the environment, and combines multiple data sources to make inferences about routine activities and their link to perception of crime and place.
Studying Situational Effects of Setting Characteristics: Research Examples from the Study of Peers, Activities, and Neighborhoods
Frank M. Weerman, Evelien Hoeben, Wim Bernasco, Lieven J. R. Pauwels, and Gerben J.N. Bruinsma
This chapter addresses methods to study situational influences of setting characteristics on adolescent offending. In particular, it describes data collection methods (space-time budget interviews, census data, community surveys, and systematic social observations) that enable precise measurement of what respondents do, with whom they undertake these activities, and in what kind of places (both the geographical area and the function of the location) they find themselves. Such data capture presence in and exposure to different kinds of settings during particular periods in time. This chapter illustrates the usefulness of these method for criminological research by summarizing the results of three sub-studies from the Study of Peers, Activities, and Neighborhoods (SPAN) conducted in the Netherlands. It first discusses the design of the SPAN data collection and the instruments that were used in it. It then reviews each study in turn by summarizing its theoretical motivation, data structure, and analytical strategy, and by describing the main findings it has generated.
Understanding the Distribution of Crime Victimization Using “British Crime Survey” Data: An Exercise in Statistical Reasoning
This chapter focuses upon understanding the data-generating process that gives rise to the frequency distribution of crime victimization count data sampled from the British Crime Survey (BCS). Having described the form of this data, it introduces the problem of explaining the overdispersion of the distribution. It discusses and compares various models of the data that make assumptions about the data-generation process, including risk-heterogeneity, state-dependency, conditional probability, the double hurdle model, and the spells model. Its principal conclusion is that the crime victimization frequency distribution found in BCS data is the heterogeneous product of the mixing of two probability distributions: one concerns victim-prevalence, where zero-inflation predominates; the other concerns victimization-frequency, expressing the long-tail of high-frequencies. This conceptualization sheds new light on some persistent difficulties that might point the way towards future progress in understanding and remedying the distribution of crime victimization among citizens.
Christopher J. Schreck and Eric A. Stewart
Victimization and offending are problems linked to youth. This article is about the victim offender overlap, which is a phenomenon where a person's offending activity and victimization experiences are positively correlated. It highlights the victim-offender overlap, which is a well-documented empirical fact. Although persistent, there are few criminological theories about the victim-offender correlation and this article focuses on insights offered by some of the leading criminological theories, particularly cultural deviance, strain, control, and life-course perspectives. It interprets victim-offender overlap from this vantage point and examines the implications of a life-course approach to the study of the victim-offender overlap. In sum, it provides a review that indicates that the victim-offender nexus is not well understood, notwithstanding the vast literature connecting childhood victimization and mistreatment to offending. Finally, it poses a few questions that are vital to understanding victim-offender correlation, but are unanswered so far.