Mapping the future

Derek Johnson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review

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Individual space time patterns of serial burglary offenders: mapping risk for operational responses This paper reports on research into the space-time behaviour of burglary crime, in particular that of individual serial offenders, and on an extension to the use of the near repeat phenomena in operational policing in Bournemouth as reported at last years’ conference. Analysis appertaining to serial burglary offending over a period of several years was undertaken with access to full offending histories. Little research has been undertaken on this issue with the use of individual offender data, previous work predominantly utilising recorded crime data with reference to crime scene behavioural indicators. Two stages were involved, the first of which can be described as ‘area analysis’, the purpose being to ascertain if space-time clusters (or ‘near repeats’) were manifest in recorded crime data for the study area. The results were used to inform the second stage comprising of crime series’ analysis of identified prolific burglary offenders to establish their propensity to commit offences close in space and close in time. The work required the development of a new methodology to ascertain and describe potential space-time patterns of individuals. Closest offending behaviour of individuals was established in terms of both time and distance and descriptive statistics with measures of skewness utilised as indicators of overall behaviour. The results add to previous academic findings in the field of crime prevention, providing further evidence that current ‘repeat offence’ crime reduction policies need reviewing and expanding to take account of the element of contagious risk apparent in burglary crime. Concerning individual offending behaviour indications from this work are that most serial burglary offenders commit ‘near repeat’ burglaries, there is a common range of time spans and distance bands within which such offending is carried out. The result of this recent research strongly suggests that serial offenders identify minimum distances from previous offences within which they will prefer not to offend further until a certain minimum time has elapsed. In other words offenders mentally place spatial and temporal buffers around past crime locations and avoid offending within the spatial buffer until the time buffer has ‘expired’. In an effort to retain an operational output the author further developed empirical analysis of serial offending patterns in order to identify small space spatial behaviour of active serial burglary offenders. Simple spreadsheet functions are used in such a way that a serial offender’s personal space-time buffers can be determined as his/her series of crimes develops. This in turn suggests areas and time spans where an offence is unlikely to take place and therefore conversely where the risk of offending is greater. Such mapping therefore creates both enforcement and reduction opportunities that are empirically led. Dorset Police are currently utilising this new analytical method in order to enhance identification and linking of crime series and provide additional evidence led pro-active enforcement opportunities. To date it has proved to be a useful and valid tool, in particular for planning both overt and covert patrol/observation strategies that will be exampled within the presentation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008
EventNational Crime Mapping Conference 2008 - Manchester, UK
Duration: 1 Jun 2008 → …


ConferenceNational Crime Mapping Conference 2008
Period1/06/08 → …


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