Academy Colloquium

Spatial Behaviour and Crime: Theories, Data, Methods, and Applications

19 May 2016  -  20 May 2016
KNAW, Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 29, 1011 JV Amsterdam
+31 20 551 0747
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The aim of the Academy Colloquium Spatial Behaviour and Crime: Theories, Data, Methods, and Applications is to improve research into the role of spatial knowledge and spatial behaviour in crime.

We bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines – criminology, spatial economics, geography, psychology, sociology, geographic information systems, and transport and planning. By asking them to share their knowledge and skills, we hope to enrich the study of crime with theories, data, and methods from a diverse array of disciplines. In addition, promising applications in theory development, data collection, and analysis will be presented and discussed.

Leading theories about spatial behaviour (e.g., utility maximisation, space-time geography, spatial information processing) will be evaluated in terms of their usefulness for deriving hypotheses about the spatial knowledge and spatial behaviour of offenders, victims, bystanders, and law enforcement agents, including choices of destinations, routes, and modes of transport.

Criminology tends to rely heavily on the data of law enforcement agencies, but that data has not been designed to test theories of crime. Crime researchers seldom collect data themselves on the spatial behaviour of offenders, victims, bystanders, or law enforcement agents. If they do, they use traditional modes of data collection, such as interviews and questionnaires. Other disciplines have more experience in measuring spatial knowledge and behaviour through observation, space-time budget methods, automatic GPS tracking devices, smartphones and other wearable devices, and experiments and simulations (including virtual reality). What can these methods offer research on crime, and what are their limitations?

New theories and methods often require new analytical concepts and tools. In the Colloquium we will explore useful methods for analysing new types of data about crime. While some tools have been successfully applied (i.e. discrete choice analysis of crime location choice), many have yet to be explored. How can criminologists move forward and analyse more complex spatio-temporal data structures (multi-day geo-tracking and space-time-budget data)? For example, how can we learn from the escape routes of criminals, and how can we analyse changes in spatial knowledge after residential relocation?


Prof. W. Bernasco (NSCR/VU University Amsterdam) and prof. S. Ruiter (NSCR/Utrecht University)