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With this research we will be focussing on changing patterns of crime and victimisation across time and space. This work will have a particular focus on the development of indicators and risk assessment tools for reducing harm and vulnerability, taking into account the identified drivers and patterns of crime. 

This work is connected with our broader theme of Spatial inequalities, as well as Justice, Well-being, Age and Gender inequalities.

Research Papers

Police use of the new Covid-19 powers: Using administrative data to analyse and evaluate practice

Photo showing the torsos of two police officers in yellow high visibility uniforms

McVie and fellow collaborators at the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR)

Research questions: 

The report scrutinises Police Scotland's use of temporary new powers of enforcement introduced to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and asks the following questions:

  • Are the temporary powers being used appropriately, with enforcement being used only as a last resort?
  • What is the public's perception of the police use of these temporary powers?

Type(s) of inequality and how inequality is defined:

Differences in the use of the powers in terms of absolute numbers and rates per capita.

Approach or method used:

Understanding how intersectional advantage and disadvantage affects criminal career trajectories in Queensland, Australia: a multilevel approach

Matthews, McVie and collaborators at Queensland University, Australia 

Research questions: 

How does the association between adult conviction trajectories and early youth justice sanction vary by sex and indigenous status?

How does the association between adult conviction trajectories and childhood trauma vary by sex and indigenous status?

Type(s) of inequality and how inequality is defined:

Inequality is defined as the difference in estimated probability of convictions class membership between non-indigenous men, non-indigenous women, indigenous men and indigenous women.

Approach or method used:

Testing the relationship between changing patterns of crime and stop and search in Scotland: the impact of the introduction of a new Code of Practice

Jahanshahi and McVie

Recent changes to stop and search legislation, policy and practice in Scotland has significantly reduced the use of the tactic.  In a wider context of rising violence in the UK, this has raised questions over the extent to which the reduction in stop and search has impacted on crime rates, and especially violence. 

This paper addresses the following research questions:

·         What is the relationship between rates of stop and search and patterns of crime in Scotland?

·         Has the introduction of a new code of practice on 11th May 2017 caused a ‘shock’ in terms of this relationship?

·         Does this relationship vary according to type of search power used and type of crime studied?

·         Is there any variation in the relationship between stop and search and crime rates across Police Divisions?  And is this contingent on level of deprivation  across divisional areas?

Type(s) of inequality and how inequality is defined:

The changing profile of crime victims in Scotland: Has the crime drop resulted in greater concentration of inequalities?

McVie, Norris, Pillinger and Skott.

Building on previous work (McVie, Norris and Pillinger, 2019) this analysis aims to explore the factors that have influenced growing inequality in the experience of victimisation over the period of the crime drop in Scotland.  Key research questions are:

·         To what extent has the crime drop resulted in a widening gap in risk of exposure to victimisation (based on frequency and type of crime)?

·         What factors explain this widening gap in the risk of exposure to victimisation?

·         To what extent could any widening inequality be a result of economic stress (potentially as a result of the financial crash) as opposed to other social characteristics of the Scottish population?

Type(s) of inequality and how inequality is defined

We focus principally on the issue of inequality in exposure to crime victimisation.  In doing so, we take account of differences according to age, sex, socio-economic status, economic stress, educational level and health conditions.

The impact of early inequalities and adverse experiences on offending and criminal conviction over the life-course

McAra and McVie

Poverty and early justice system intervention are known to be key contributors to offending behaviour amongst young people and, even more so, to contribute to inequality in exposure to justice system contact.  In recent years, attention has started to focus on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the extent to which people who come to the attention of criminal justice organisations are impacted by these.  In Scotland, for example, policing and prisons policies have started to develop ‘trauma informed practice’ in order to engage more compassionately with individuals who may have experienced ACEs. However, the full extent of the relationship between ACEs and offending or criminal justice system contact is not entirely clear; and there are some concerns that a narrow focus on ACEs deflects attention away from the impact of other known risk factors, including structural poverty and negative system effects. 

The research questions guiding this paper are:

·         To what extent do ACEs impact on offending behaviour in adolescence?

Hidden inequalities in the exposure to crime in Glasgow and Manchester

It is well evidenced that exposure to crime varies across urban space, with crime concentrating within a small proportion of locations (Weisburd, 2015; Rey et al, 2012; Braga et al, 2010). Further evidence suggests the spatial pattering of crime is associated with deprivation (Livingston et al., 2014). Thus, certain types of communities bear a disproportionate burden of recorded crime and with that, disorder and vulnerability. Building on the work of Hope et al (2001), this research will seek to assess whether there are also hidden inequalities in the exposure to crime. In other words, are certain types of community less likely to report crime and, therefore, experience an even greater burden of crime than that manifest by recorded crime? Relatedly, if certain types of community are more likely to report crime, do they capture a disproportionate amount of police resource?

The spatial reordering of poverty and its association with property and violent crime in Glasgow and Birmingham 2001-2016

There is growing evidence of the spatial reordering or suburbanisation of poverty (Kavanagh et al., 2016; Bailey and Minton, 2017) and its detrimental impact on the life chances of poorer people (Zhang and Pryce, forthcoming) in UK cities.  This paper extends this body of research through exploring the potential association between the spatial re-ordering of poverty and crime. The strength of the association between poverty and crime, once a bedrock conclusion of international research, has increasingly been challenged (Dhiri et al., 1999; Hipp and Yates, 2011; Tilley et al., 2011; Metz and Burdina, 2018). However, existing research typically deploys a single poverty measure, does not take account of different crime types, adopts a large spatial scale of analysis and does not contrast findings across different settings.

The crime drop and neighbourhood inequalities in the exposure to crime: A longitudinal study of violent and property crime in Glasgow and Birmingham (2001-2016)

Since the 1990s, a dramatic decline in recorded crime has been observed across many developed polities (Aebi and Linde, 2010; Tseloni et al., 2010). Set against this finding, there has been limited attention paid to the crime drop at the neighbourhood level, an exception being Bannister et al (2017) who found marked distinction in the crime drop trajectories of different neighbourhood groupings in Glasgow. Building upon this finding, this paper seeks to explore whether the crime drop has resulted in an increase in inequalities in the exposure to crime. The analysis utilises police recorded property and violent crime in Glasgow and Birmingham, enabling assessment of whether any observed shifting inequalities in the exposure to crime can be considered place specific or part of wider area trends.

Crime cascade networks and their relationship to administrative boundaries and social frontiers

Bannister et al. (2015) found growing inequalities in exposure to crime due to crime rates falling more in some areas than others. This raises a number of questions. How do crime fads and trends emerge? How do they spread to other neighbourhoods? Why are some neighbourhoods impervious to particular fads and trends, but susceptible to others? Where do particular fads and trends start and finish? To what extent is the crime linkage non-spatial? Are neighbourhoods linked through movements in crime linked in other ways?  And how fragile or robust is the network of crime links? To understand inequalities in exposure to crime and why they shift over time, we need to understand the wider mechanism for crime transmission.

Have ethnic minorities decentralised in Scottish cities, and what is the impact on access to employment, schooling and health services?

We have seen significant changes to the centralisation and spatial ordering of poverty in Scottish cities, but we know little about how these effects or their consequences differ for ethnic minorities.
In this research paper we are interested in addressing two key questions:

(1) has there been significant changes to the spatial distribution of different ethnic minorities (particularly in terms of decentralisation and spatial ordering)?

(2) what have been the impacts in terms of their access to employment, education and health services (GP surgeries), and their exposure to pollution, and crime?

We plan to investigate this using similar methodology to that used by Zhang & Pryce (2018) and to focus on inter-ethnic differences.

This research is in development. If you have any questions about this work, please contact Professor Gwilym Pryce.

How have gender and age inequalities in conviction changed over the crime drop in Scotland?

Matthews and Minton (2017) have shown that the crime drop in Scotland is unequally distributed across age and sex, being predominantly driven by lower convictions for young men. We aim to build on this research to examine the roles of demographic change, prevalence (the proportion of the total population who are convicted) and frequency (the average number of convictions for those convicted) on overall conviction rates, identifying whether falling conviction rates are due to fewer people being convicted or the same number people being convicted at a lower rate. This analysis will provide important insights into the potential mechanisms which have led to the crime drop, supplementing existing work in the USA which has focused on young men (Berg et al. 2016) by exploring trends for men and women across the age spectrum. We will also examine how the use of different disposals - imprisonment, community disposals and fines - have changed over the crime drop, and how the use of these disposals have changed for men and women of different ages convicted of different types of crime.

To what extent does gender and poverty impact on the relationship between violence and self-harm?

In 1996, the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted a resolution which declared violence to be a major and growing public health problem at a global level.  The WHO’s definition of violence includes both interpersonal and self-directed forms of behaviour (including self-injury and suicidal behaviour), the rationale being that these are often products of the same underlying factors. Both violence and self-harming behaviour are common in adolescence; however, few studies have examined whether there are causal connections between them or whether these are comorbid psychosocial disorders that are explained by similar aetiological factors, such as growing up in poverty. Moreover, teenage violence is largely perpetrated by young men, whereas self-harm is most prevalent amongst young women.  So there is little understanding of whether gender inequalities impact on any relationship between the two forms of violence.  

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