How efficiently can we target prolific offenders?

2006-02-23T15:49:54Z (GMT) by Michael Townsley Ken Pease
This report looks at the magnitude of crime perpetrated by the most active offenders in a particular police area and places it in the context of a research programme which seeks to integrate and render locally useful the major findings of applied criminology. The results are contrasting. In terms of all crime, the group of offenders nominated did not appear to contribute substantially to levels of crime. The level of burglary did not bear any relationship to the availability of nominated burglars. The volume of vehicle-related crime (unlawful taking, theft of and theft from a motor vehicle) did vary according to the number of nominated offenders available. Breaking down to neighbourhood level, only one area displayed a relationship between levels of vehicle crime and the availability of nominated offenders to commit crime. Furthermore, there was some evidence that this group accounted for a component of other crime types, namely burglary and criminal damage. Two areas failed to produce any meaningful relationship between nominated offenders and crime levels. The results have major implications for the mechanism used to nominate prolific offenders and the resources used to target such individuals. It is argued that refinement and local application of the kinds of analysis described here would be of great utility in shaping offender-targeting practices.