Report on ESDS Government Research Conference: Crime, Safety and Community
Article dated: 2 December 2009
The ESDS Government annual research conference, held in November 2009 at the British Academy London, focused on the topic of Crime, Safety and Community, showcasing recent research using ESDS datasets. Professor Paul Wiles, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Home Office, chaired the one-day conference.
Two papers, drawing on the Offenders Cohort Index, looked at offending behaviour: Professor Brian Francis addressed specialisation and escalation among offenders, while Professor Keith Soothill explored the risk of offending among ex-offenders and non-offenders, and whether and/or when ex-offenders should be treated like non-offenders.
Helen Chester drew on the British Crime Survey (BCS) to explore property crime using multi-level modelling and found that household characteristics explained more of the variation in property crime victimisation than area-level characteristics. However, a number of important issues appeared to affect this assessment, namely the way that 'area of residence' was defined, the sampling strategy of the BCS, and the selection of variables included in the models. These issues were discussed, together with recommendations for further research, policy and practice.
Professor Tim Hope used the BCS and the Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey to explore the distribution of crime victimisation in the population and his results suggest that delivering crime prevention to the general population as a whole, rather than targeting chronic victims, would produce better results. Dr Emily Gray reported on her work using the BCS to look at a new way of measuring the fear of crime, which differentiates between destructive worry that erodes quality of life and constructive worry that motivates vigilance and routine precaution.
The final paper, which looked into who buys stolen goods, was given by Dr Mike Sutton who used the BCS and the Offending, Crime and Justice Survey as context for his qualitative work with thieves and fences. The research identified six market types for stolen goods and the paper discussed the need for national crime surveys to assess which of the six markets play major roles in facilitating theft.