Loughborough University
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Of targets and supertargets: a routine activity theory of high crime rates

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journal contribution
posted on 2006-02-08, 17:56 authored by Graham Farrell, Ken Clark, Dan Ellingworth, Ken Pease
Empirical work has shown that high crime areas have disproportionate amounts of repeat victimisation. However, there is inadequate theoretical explanation. As a move towards a theory we consider a mathematical model of crime rates grounded in routine activity theory. Using the binomial distribution, victimisation is measured as a series of Bernoulli trials, with crime measured for each of incidence (crimes per capita), prevalence (victims per capita), and concentration (crimes per victim). The model is then revised so that a proportion of targets progress to become chronically victimised "supertargets". The notion of supertargets is introduced to refer to the 3 or 4 percent of chronically victimised targets that account for around 40 percent of victimisation. We demonstrate theory-testing relating to crime requires the inclusion of the crime concentration rate to incorporate repeat victimisation and indicate how mathematical modelling may, in turn, illuminate the crime concentration predictions of routine activity theory.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies

Research Unit

  • Midlands Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice


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FARRELL, G., CLARK, K., ELLINGWORTH, D. and PEASE, K., 2005. Of targets and supertargets: a routine activity theory of high crime rates. Internet Journal of Criminology.

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This article was published in the journal, Internet Journal of Criminology [© NUP]. It is also available at: http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/ijcarticles.html.


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