European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research

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Online ISSN: 1572-9869
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Article
What are similarities and differences between violent and nonviolent terrorist suspects? Our study aims to answer this question by comparing violent terrorist suspects (VTS) ( n = 57) to nonviolent terrorist suspects (NVTS) ( n = 292) in the Netherlands. Guided by social control theories and using register data from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, Statistics Netherlands, and the Research and Documentation Centre of the Ministry of Justice and Security, we investigated the 2 years leading up to the terrorist suspicion by examining demographic characteristics, household composition, socioeconomic factors, and criminal background. Findings demonstrate more similarities than differences between the groups. Nonetheless, VTS were significantly more often male and had more often a (violent) criminal background. For NVTS, we found possible preventive effects of living with parents and employment. Furthermore, the differences in socioeconomic status (SES) we found urge us to develop a better understanding of the socioeconomic environment VTS and NVTS are part of and whether and how their perception of this environment influences their behavior. Notwithstanding the limitations in our study (e.g., potential police bias in register data, small sample sizes), the analyses provide insight into what factors, and potential underlying mechanisms, need further investigation to understand violent and nonviolent outcomes.
 
Crime, conviction, and prison population rates from 1950 to 2020 (Brinc, 2001, 2005; Eurostat, 2021; Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, 2021). a “Crime rate” is calculated on the number of crimes recorded by the police per 100,000 inhabitants in a year. b “Accused persons rate” is calculated on the number of accused persons by the police per 100,000 inhabitants in a year. c “Rate of persons convicted” is calculated on the number of convicted adults and juveniles per 100,000 inhabitants in a year. A convicted person is an individual who has been pronounced guilty, and upon whom the following sanctions have been imposed: punishment (prison, juvenile prison, and fine), conditional sentence, judicial admonition, security measure, and educational measure, as well as a person pronounced guilty but discharged. d “Rate of persons conditionally convicted” is calculated on the number of conditionally convicted adults and juveniles per 100,000 inhabitants in a year. Data prior to 1973 and for 1992 are not available. e “Prison population rate” is calculated on the number of imprisoned persons per 100,000 inhabitants on 31 December of each year. The prison population rate has been multiplied by 10 to fit to scale. Data prior to 1980 are not available
Article
This paper focuses on a comprehensive study of penal policy in Slovenia in the last 70 years, providing an analysis of statistical data on crime, conviction, and prison populations. After a sharp political and penal repression in the first years after World War II, penal and prison policy began paving the way to a unique “welfare sanction system”, grounded in ideas of prisoners’ treatment. After democratic reforms in the early 1990s, the criminal legislation became harsher, but Slovenia managed to avoid the general punitive trends characterized by the era of penal state and culture of control. The authoritarian socialist regime at its final stage had supported the humanization of the penal system, and this trend continued in the first years of the democratic reforms in the 1990s, but it lost its momentum after 2000. In the following two decades, Slovenia experienced a continuous harshening of criminal law and sanctions on the one hand and an increasing prison population rate on the other. From 2014 onwards, however, there was a decrease in all segments of penal statistics. The findings of the study emphasize the exceptionalism of Slovenian penal policy, characterized by penal moderation, which is the product of the specific local historical, political, economic, and normative developments.
 
Article
The EU has acquired the competence to harmonise individual rights in the field of criminal procedure (Art. 82(2)b TFEU). This was hailed as a positive development helping redress the unbalance towards a too security-oriented development of the Area of Freedom Security and Justice. This article discusses the breath of this competence and designs an analytical framework illustrating what requirements need taking into account to legitimate EU regulatory action in the field of detention. It argues that the wording of the provision, especially its utilitarian framing, strongly limits its potential for the EU to act in at least two areas, compensation for unjust detention and material detention conditions.
 
Article
The European Commission has repeatedly attempted to introduce EU legislation on pre-trial detention but has so far met with an overwhelming reluctance of Member States to address the issue. The latest initiative proposes to adopt an EU recommendation on the rights and conditions in pre-trial detention. This article seeks to highlight gaps in the protection of fundamental rights in national arrest warrant proceedings and whether standards on pre-trial detention alone will offer a solution for the full protection of fundamental rights in a cross-border context. It draws the link between the national arrest warrant, the EAW and the responsibility of the issuing state to guarantee the legality and validity of the national arrest warrant. The article finds that currently, compliance of judicial decision-making with the existing ECHR standards on pre-trial detention cannot be presumed in practice. This compliance also cannot be verified in an adversarial and equal judicial process until after the requested person has been surrendered. In the absence of a judicial process to challenge the legality of a national arrest warrant before the execution of an EAW, protection of the requested person’s rights and access to an effective remedy remains problematic.
 
Article
Risk assessment tools are widely used throughout the criminal justice system to assist in making decisions about sentencing, supervision, and treatment. In this article, we discuss several methodological and practical limitations associated with risk assessment tools currently in use. These include variable predictive performance due to the exclusion of important background predictors; high costs, including the need for regular staff training, in order to use many tools; development of tools using suboptimal methods and poor transparency in how they create risk scores; included risk factors being based on dated evidence; and ethical concerns highlighted by legal scholars and criminologists, such as embedding systemic biases and uncertainty about how these tools influence judicial decisions. We discuss the potential that specific predictors, such as living in a deprived neighbourhood, may indirectly select for individuals in racial or ethnic minority groups. To demonstrate how these limitations and ethical concerns can be addressed, we present the example of OxRec, a risk assessment tool used to predict recidivism for individuals in the criminal justice system. OxRec was developed in Sweden and has been externally validated in Sweden and the Netherlands. The advantages of OxRec include its predictive accuracy based on rigorous multivariable testing of predictors, transparent reporting of results and the final model (including how the probability score is derived), scoring simplicity (i.e. without the need for additional interview), and the reporting of a wide range of performance measures, including those of discrimination and calibration, the latter of which is rarely reported but a key metric. OxRec is intended to be used alongside professional judgement, as a support for decision-making, and its performance measures need to be interpreted in this light. The reported calibration of the tool in external samples clearly suggests no systematic overestimation of risk, including in large subgroups.
 
Article
Children who have been trafficked may experience longer-term mental health consequences with a significant impact on all life domains. Key professionals must be prepared and adopt practices that help to prevent and fight child trafficking and the harm caused. This study aims to explore the current knowledge of professionals from Portugal on child trafficking and perceptions about their practices and skills. The sample consisted of 614 professionals from justice (47.1%), education (19.4%), social (18.9%), and health care (14.7%) areas who completed an online survey. Professionals were more knowledgeable about forms of exploitation and less about victims' profile. Professionals who had direct contact with and/or training in human trafficking presented more knowledge and positive perceptions about their practices and skills. This study aims to raise awareness and develop informed training programs based on professionals’ needs and challenges.
 
Number of femicides in Spain (2004–2021)
Grouping of the perpetrators of femicide (N = 171) based on the dimensions of criminality and psychopathology, on the basis of the four-cluster solution
Article
This investigation studied the interaction between seven risk factors included in the police risk assessment of the VioGén System and found that these factors formed groups based on the dimensions of violence and psychopathology. The 171 femicides analysed were categorised into four groups: normalised (23.4%), violent (25.7%), pathological (18.7%), and pathological/violent (32.2%). These groups exhibited significant differences concerning their psychosocial profile and relationship dynamics. One of the main findings is the identification of the pathological type that had not been detected in previous typologies, thus highlighting the importance of the psychological factor when classifying the perpetrators of femicide. These results have important practical implications, as the classification of the aggressor could be a preliminary step taken before the risk assessment, which would make it possible to individualise predictions and improve the protection of the victims as well as the therapies and intervention programmes.
 
Article
An increase in the mobility of persons across national borders coincides with an overrepresentation of foreign nationals in the penal systems of Western Europe, though this phenomenon is not yet well understood. This paper positions itself at the intersection of migration and criminology by examining citizenship disparities in pretrial detention and whether said disparities affect incarceration outcomes. Leveraging a mixed-methods strategy, we make use of individual-level criminal case and interview data from the Netherlands. Our quasi-experimental quantitative analyses show significant and substantive differences in the assignment of pretrial detention to foreign citizens, which affects the risk of future incarceration. Our interviews reveal that citizenship disparities manifest themselves through multiple mechanisms: (i) foreign defendants are viewed as flight risks, (ii) fewer non-prison sanctions are assigned in cases involving foreign defendants, and (iii) pretrial detention is seen as an efficient method for punishment.
 
Rate of pre-trial detention (Council of Europe, n.d.; Irish Prison Service, 2017). Important note: Data for 2018 and 2019 is from the 31st of January not the 1st of September. No Council of Europe SPACE I report was available for 2017 so that data is from the Irish Prison Service Monthly Information Note for the population on August 31st of that year
Article
Ireland has a comparatively low pre-trial detention rate by European standards, at around 14 pre-trial detainees per 100,000 population. This article seeks to explore one factor which may explain a lower use of pre-trial detention in Ireland: its legal culture. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with judges, prosecution lawyers, defence lawyers and probation staff, the article finds that the constitutional protection of the right to bail (the key alternative to pre-trial detention in Ireland), an enduring legal tradition which historically prohibited the use of a risk of offending ground, and shared views and assumptions about the objectives of pre-trial detention hearings amongst judges, prosecution and defence lawyers, have influenced how such actors engage in the decision-making process about the use of pre-trial detention. The article argues that more attention needs to be given to the role of legal culture to examine why detention rates differ across Europe.
 
Article
Quantitative recidivism risk assessment can be used at the pretrial detention, trial, sentencing, and / or parole stage in the justice system. It has been criticized for what is measured, whether the predictions are more accurate than those made by humans, whether it creates or increases inequality and discrimination, and whether it compromises or violates other aspects of fairness. This criticism becomes even more topical with the arrival of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act. This article identifies and applies the relevant rules of the proposed AI Act in relation to quantitative recidivism risk assessment. It does so by focusing on the proposed rules for the quality of the data and the models used, on biases, and on the human oversight. It is concluded that legislation may consider requiring providers of high-risk AI systems to demonstrate that their solution performs significantly better than risk assessments based on simple models, and better than human assessment. Furthermore, there is no single answer to evaluate the performance of quantitative recidivism risk assessment tools that are or may be deployed in practice. Finally, three approaches of human oversight are discussed to correct for the negative effects of quantitative risk assessment: the optional, benchmark, and feedback approach.
 
Article
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major concern across the world, and its prevalence assessment has been a priority in numerous countries. However, data about IPV prevalence in Portugal is scarce and not up-to-date. This study aims to estimate IPV prevalence in Portugal. A community sample of 1392 adults (77.4% female, mean age = 34.95 years, SD = 12.80) was collected through a web-based survey, between March and June of 2020. Participants completed a sociodemographic questionnaire and the Conflict Tactic Scales-2 (CTS-2). Accounting for all forms of IPV, a past-year prevalence of 64.4% and 64.6% were found, for victimization and perpetration, respectively. Regarding gender or sexual orientation, no significant differences were found in the past-year or the lifetime prevalence, neither concerning frequency. Directionality and dyadic concordance types were analyzed and showed that most violence was bidirectional. Having perpetrated violence in previous intimate relationships was the most influential factor when predicting past-year perpetration or victimization. Other significant predictors were age, being victimized before 15 years old, cohabitation with the intimate partner, and drug use, but the last two were only significant for victimization. Findings support the idea that IPV is a relevant phenomenon, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. It is the first nationwide, gender-inclusive study to do so in Portugal. Studies based on different samples might provide important evidence to prevent hasty conclusions about IPV prevalence and patterns and to guide empirically driven policies.
 
Article
The European legal framework is not devoid of norms that are directly or indirectly applicable to facial recognition technology for identification purposes within law enforcement. However, these various norms, which have different targets and are from multiple sources, create a kind of legal patchwork that could undermine the lawful use of this technology in criminal investigations. This paper advocates the creation of a specific law on the use of facial recognition technology for identification in law enforcement, based on existing regulations, to specifically address the pressing issues arising in this domain. The ultimate aim is to allow its use under certain conditions and to protect the rights of the people involved, but also to provide law enforcement authorities with the necessary tools to combat serious crimes.
 
Article
Social media groups, for example on Facebook, WhatsApp or Telegram, allow for direct exchange, communication and interaction, as well as networking of different individuals worldwide. Such groups are also used to spread propaganda and thus allow for self-radicalisation or mutual radicalisation of their members. The article reports selected results from a research project analysing online communication processes of extremist groups. Based on data from group discussions in social media, corpus linguistic analyses were carried out, examining quantitative relationships between individual lexical elements and occurring regularities. To this end, four different corpora were built. These consist of data collected in right-wing and Salafi jihadist groups of a low or medium radicalisation level on Facebook and VKontakte via fake profiles, and of group communication in forums, messenger apps and social networks of highly radicalised persons, which were extracted from files of (e.g. terrorism) cases prosecuted in Germany. Quantitative linguistic analyses of social media data continue to be challenging due to the heterogeneity of the data as well as orthographic and grammatical errors. Nevertheless, it was possible to identify phenomenon specific sociolects that point to different levels of linguistic radicalisation. Based on the results of the analyses, the article discusses the prospects, problems and pitfalls of lexicometric analyses of online communication, especially as a tool for understanding radicalisation processes.
 
Flowchart of the study; the abbreviation ARIS refers to the Activism and Radicalism Scale
Areas of interest (AOI 001 to AOI 005) in all three memes analyzed in this study; memes represent (a) empowering a right-wing in-group, (b) inciting violence against out-groups from a right-wing perspective, and (c) deradicalizing content (i.e., emphasizing human unity)
Article
In recent years, online radicalization has received increasing attention from researchers and policymakers, for instance, by analyzing online communication of radical groups and linking it to individual and collective pathways of radicalization into violent extremism. But these efforts often focus on radical individuals or groups as senders of radicalizing messages, while empirical research on the recipient is scarce. To study the impact of radicalized online content on vulnerable individuals, this study compared cognitive and affective appraisal and visual processing (via eye tracking) of three political Internet memes (empowering a right-wing group, inciting violence against out-groups, and emphasizing unity among human beings) between a right-wing group and a control group. We examined associations between socio-political attitudes, appraisal ratings, and visual attention metrics (total dwell time, number of fixations). The results show that right-wing participants perceived in-group memes (empowerment, violence) more positively and messages of overarching similarities much more negatively than controls. In addition, right-wing participants and participants in the control group with a high support for violence directed their attention towards graphical cues of violence (e.g., weapons), differentness, and right-wing groups (e.g., runes), regardless of the overall message of the meme. These findings point to selective exposure effects and have implications for the design and distribution of de-radicalizing messages and counter narratives to optimize the efficacy of prevention of online radicalization.
 
Estimated mean values and latent class proportions for all six latent profiles of right-wing attitudes (i.e., affinity to right-wing authoritarian regimes, trivialization of National Socialism, chauvinism, xenophobia, social Darwinism, and antisemitism) among a sample of German ninth-graders. For each scale, a higher value indicates stronger affirmative attitudes
Article
Given that the normative search for identity and belonging, as well as political socialization , plays an important role during adolescence, this life stage is characterized by high vulnerability to radicalization processes. When investigating the influence of different factors on radicalization processes, latent profile analysis can identify and analyze groups of adolescents with different vulnerabilities. Based on a sample of 6,715 ninth-graders from Germany, we identified six latent classes with specific vulnerabilities to right-wing attitudes as one possible outcome of radicalization. The results show that the class with the highest approval of right-wing statements mainly consists of male adolescents with a high sense of relative disadvantage and social deprivation. Specific family ties constitute a unique feature among those who are indifferent in their attitudes.
 
Article
In recent years, risk assessments for violent extremism have attracted great interest from both scholars and practitioners, and many assessment tools have been developed. After a critical review of this development, the paper examines differences and similarities between the indicators of various violent extremist risk assessment tools and checklists. Based on an interview study with 34 experts in the field of Counter Violent Extremism and 24 (formerly) radicalized persons from the right-wing radical and Salafi-Jihadist spectrum, risk factors were identified and the findings merged and compared with already existing risk assessment tools. The paper will present results especially regarding the risk signals’ occurrence and applicability in the German context. One key finding is that existing assessment tools insufficiently take into account personal contacts in the radicalization process. Thus, the paper—based on the results of a social network analysis—draws attention to the potential and importance of networks. The paper concludes by outlining the potential of risk assessment, suggesting improvements, and raising awareness of the limits and deficits of these tools. The paper thus scientifically addresses the challenge of more security through efficient risk assessment and management. It offers a list of radicalization process characteristics (ARISNA: Assessment of Radicalized Individuals including Social Network Analysis), which is designed to help users analyze the risk of radicalization based on concrete traits of a person and their environment.
 
Article
This article reconstructs four ideal types of biographical self-descriptions outlining radicalisation processes that are based on longitudinal biographical interviews conducted with male (former) right-wing extremists. In the first self-description, the biographers explain how they were born into radicalised families whose ideological norms and values they adopted without question. The second self-description outlines how the biographers’ actions were guided by a longing for stability and community. Initially, ideology plays a tangential role, with involvement in Kameradschaften and violence providing key momentum. In the third self-description, biographers refer to their German heritage and glorify National Socialism. They see themselves as guardians of the German Volk, and partly resort to violence to defend this idea. The fourth self-description outlines engagement with right-wing extremism as an outlet for frustrations with social discrimination. During our analysis, we examine whether any of these ideal types also correspond to self-descriptions given by Islamists, concluding that the latter do indeed describe their pathways into radicalisation in a similar manner.
 
Jihadism—inferior or normal?
Article
We provide empirical support for a positive relationship between social safety spending and the phenomenon of ISIS foreign fighters, particularly among OECD countries. We argue that the problem with social safety spending is not its abuse by recipients but the way it is distributed. When examining the nature of social safety spending, we find that OECD countries that prioritize passive rather than active labor market programs have, on average, proportionally more ISIS foreign fighters. We conclude that social safety spending that supports socioeconomic immobility is significantly associated with radicalization and terrorism.
 
Regional distribution of foreign fighters. Source: Authors’ calculations based on data from Soufan (2015) and Barrett (2017)
Article
A considerable number of foreign fighters who joined the Islamic State (IS) came from developed countries enjoying high levels of democracy and personal freedom. Even after the demise of the Islamic State, the IS “returnees” remain a source of severe security risk globally. Many countries, especially those with a considerable number of IS fighters and returnees, face the challenge of striking the right balance between protecting national security against IS terrorism and preserving fundamental democratic institutions. This paper examines the effect of democracy and personal freedom on foreign fighters joining IS in Syria and Iraq. We also examine whether democracy and/or personal freedom affect the fraction of IS fighters returning home. Whereas the effect of democracy appears to be inconclusive, our cross-country regressions show that countries with a higher level of personal freedom (i) had a significantly larger fraction of their population joining IS, and (ii) receive a significantly larger percentage share of returning IS fighters. Our results are robust across different model specifications and account for possible collinearity concerns.
 
A general model of global online school shooting subculture
Article
Since the Columbine High School-massacre, the world continues to witness school shootings. The current state of research presents us with nuanced categories for understanding the phenomenon, such as the school shooters’ use of media, their psychological features, and their intentions. Similarly, the discussion of preventive measures is equally bountiful. While there are a number of empirical studies that are related to digitalization, a gap in how we theorize the meaning of digitalization persists. Our aim is to provide an integrated synthesis needed for understanding school shootings in the digital era. Via a narrative literature review, we identified three explanatory themes, namely strain, imitation, and digital mediation. These were synthesized in order to explain more thoroughly how individuals come to participate in online school shooting subculture, possibly leading to their perpetration of school shootings. Based on this, a model is presented that excels in its focus on the ever more prominent role of digitality in everyday life as well as in its broad social science and behavioral explanations. Finally, the article provides potential venues for further research along with prevention strategies.
 
Mediation model of total IPV in the relationship between separation and stalking behaviors (n = 284). Note. ** p < .01; *** p < .001
Article
Intimate partner violence (IPV) and intimate partner stalking (IPS) frequently co-occur. However, the relationship between IPV and IPS has raised different interpretations: some researchers defend that they are similar types of crime, and others suggest that IPS is an extension of IPV. Using a sample of 284 male perpetrators from Portugal, recruited from prison and community, in this study, we intended to compare IPV perpetrators with and without IPS behaviors, identify the factors that predict IPS, and explore the mediating effects of the prediction variables on IPS. Results revealed that although similar in some features (e.g., psychopathology, aggression, previous convictions), IPV perpetrators with IPS differentiate from IPV perpetrators without IPS in drug abuse, separation from the victim, frequency of IPV, frequency of psychological IPV, psychopathy, and psychopathy lifestyle facet. However, only the separation from the victim, IPV frequency, and intimate psychological violence frequency predicted IPS. The mediation analyses showed that separation alone does not explain stalking behaviors and that IPV frequency plays an important mediating role. Our study reinforces the link and even the continuum nature between IPV and IPS. Thus, stalking behaviors should be considered in prevention and intervention efforts in this area.
 
Generalized process of bail/remand decision-making in a England and Wales, left panel, and b The Netherlands, right panel
Article
The decision to remand a defendant into custody pre-trial is one of the most controversial criminal justice decisions because it deprives individuals of their liberty while they are presumed to be innocent of a crime. Indeed, pre-trial detention decisions can have significant consequences for defendants, which need to be balanced against the potential implications of bail for public safety and the course of criminal proceedings. Despite this, court-based bail and remand decision-making remains relatively underexplored. In this paper, we compare court-based bail/remand decision-making in England and Wales and The Netherlands. We focus on (i) the procedure and structure of decision-making, (ii) the substantive relevant legal frameworks, (iii) the courts in which the decisions are made and the decision-makers in those courts, (iv) the conditions characterizing the decision task, and (v) the court’s reasoning of bail and remand in custody decisions. Using a comparative and multi-disciplinary approach, relying on Law, Criminology, and Psychology, we make predictions about bail and remand in custody rates in the two jurisdictions as well as the decision performance of court-based decision-makers. These predictions are then evaluated using available (official) statistics and past research. We identify the need to collect more nuanced statistical data on bail and remand in custody rates and point to potentially fruitful avenues for future research. A comparative, multi-disciplinary, evidence-based approach can underpin remand reform in England and Wales, The Netherlands, and beyond.
 
Multinomial logistic regression of typology as a function of age
Multinomial logistic regression of state of health when located as a function of age
Article
Although research on missing persons has globally increased during the past few years, most of the studies conducted have focused on the description of socio-demographic and situational factors associated with this phenomenon. The aim of this study is to explore in-depth the relation between missing person's socio-demographic factors and missing person's typology and outcomes. A full 1-year sample of police recorded missing persons (n = 24,284) was extracted from the Spanish 'Missing Persons and Unidentified Human Remains (PDyRH)' system and a multivariate statistical approach was used. The findings of this research show that, although nationality and gender are mainly important from a descriptive level, age is the socio-demographic variable that better classifies the typology and outcome of missing person cases. These findings suggest that age is a modulating variable of this phenomenon. Thus, there is a need for the conduction of research for each specific age group focused on identifying psychosocial, criminological and geographical risk factors which could explain missing person case outcomes from a multifaceted approach. Considering previous research in the field, the findings of this research are mostly consistent with these previous studies and entail different implications, both at prevention level and in the scope of police investigations.
 
Mediation model testing indirect effect of the victimization index in help-seeking, mediated by subjective severity perception
Article
Stalking is commonly perceived as a gendered crime, predominantly affecting women as victims. However, males can also be victims of this crime. Research has found that men may experience different types of behaviours and their coping and help-seeking may be unique due to individual, interpersonal, sociocultural factors and traditional gender stereotypes that shape perceptions about the seriousness of the crime and whether and/or where victims seek help. Nevertheless, no research has linked these findings to male victims of stalking. Therefore, the present study used a subsample of Portuguese men (n = 76), with a mean age of 40.49 (DP = 18.14), who self-identified as victims of stalking. The objectives were to analyse their experiences of victimization, namely behaviours, dynamics, impact and help-seeking. Moreover, another major goal of the current study was to develop a model to predict the circumstances under which male victims of stalking seek help. Results revealed that when male stalking victims search for help, it is more likely they are dealing with a higher diversity of stalking behaviours and experiencing a greater negative impact on their lives. These findings have important implications for practitioners and underlines macro-level social recommendations for raising awareness about this underreported phenomenon.
 
Article
This article presents findings from a comprehensive mapping exercise of activist responses to, and policy advocacy for, street harassment across the US, UK and Australia. Analysis of activist groups found that the bulk of responses constituted forms of “awareness raising” and documenting the experiences of victims, suggesting that current advocacy is largely situated within the “problem identification” phase of policy development. The extent and focus of activism and advocacy efforts varied across the three locations, with the responses advocated for shaped by local concerns and politics. In particular, activist groups diverged in their support for criminal justice responses to street harassment. Where policy and other initiatives have been developed, these have rarely been evaluated, and there is a clear need to establish an evidence base to better support future policy and practice developments.
 
Article
A main point of contention in the policy areas of prostitution and sex trafficking is whether the purchase of sex should be criminalised, whether fully (in all circumstances) or partly (only under specific circumstances). Particularly, Europe has seen several countries either fully criminalise buying sex or insofar as the person in prostitution is subject to exploitation or coercion. An example of the latter, since 2010, it is an offence in England and Wales (UK) to buy sex with a person in prostitution who has been coerced or exploited by a third party. While the offence was heavily debated before it was adopted, there has been little empirical research on its implementation, particularly by police who are on the front line of implementation. While police statistics on the offence are of questionable reliability, indications are that there has been little application of the offence. This paper explores several potential reasons for this in the context of interviews with 10 police representatives in four areas of England. Factors such as police’s knowledge and awareness of the offence, difficulties with its application, and to what extent and in what way policing of prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation are taking place, may all be playing a role, but do not explain lack of use in all of the areas examined in this research. The notions that there are not enough victims for the law to be applied or that police may be resisting applying the offence because they find the strict liability element of the offence unfair were not supported by these interviews. This research is unique in finding that there may be an issue with police misunderstanding fundamental elements of the offence and what seems to be a lack of awareness of the offence. These findings have implications for the assessment of the enforceability of this and similar offences and policy discussions around such offences.
 
Article
The ever-evolving legal and regulatory landscape and resulting pressure on organizations to adapt and comply is just one of many factors that have turned compliance management into a crucial yet increasingly complicated activity. In recent years, numerous compliance challenges have been reported on and traditional approaches for managing legal and regulatory risks are increasingly being scrutinized. This paper provides an overview of the main challenges faced by commercial organizations and goes on to focus on what is referred to as a holistic, integrated approach to managing compliance. It explores the key characteristics and suggested benefits of the approach, as well as some factual and more substantive arguments in support of its claims and underlying logic. Borrowing from criminological theory, it further argues that despite the potential benefits of a holistic view of compliance, there equally remains room for caution.
 
Article
Criminal policy processes often appear abstract and illusive, but sometimes a single criminal incident causes traceable policy impact. This article is about such an incident. A victim of a grave, violent assault published an opinion piece in a national newspaper, which sparked considerable public debate and policy actions. Some policy actions were new, and others had previously been proposed but repeatedly discarded. Based on an empirical study of the victim’s opinion piece, the ensuing media debate, and subsequent policy actions, we explore why and how certain victim’s stories capture their audience and strike a responsive chord in the public and in politicians. In the article, we analyze how the victim presents the incident as a narrative, and we identify the central features of the media debate and trace its visible impact on victim policies and legislation. We explore how some elements of the story are silenced in the political aftermath and how other elements serve as capital for politicians in pursuing their own agendas. A closer look at the policy changes in the wake of this opinion piece reveals that the story legitimizes certain political decisions and ignores victims’ desire for structural changes. Our study adds to research of “political agenda setting” by investigating the narrative power of an individual case on policy-making and by exhibiting the complex interplay between an individual story, media attention, and policy-making.
 
Article
The focus in this Finland-based study is on violence in close relationships—a term that partly overlaps with the more commonly used ‘domestic violence’, ‘family violence’ and ‘intimate partner violence’. We demonstrate how police officers’ conceptualisations of such violence differ from how it is defined in relevant legal documents. The data consists of the Government Bill and legal text on the subject issued as part of a legal reform enacted in 2010, and of a qualitative sample of freelist responses from 79 police officers. We examined both sets of data using theory-driven directed content analysis and deriving from prevailing theoretical frameworks reflecting the family- and gender-based perspectives on violence. The results expose the predominance of a narrow definition of ‘family’ in police understandings of close relationships, but also a notably broad spectrum of conceptualisations of both physical and non-physical forms of violence. In contrast, the legal definition of a close relationship is broader and encompasses multiple types of relationships, whereas forms of violence are more strictly defined. These findings could explain some of the discrepancies between legal policies on violence in close relationships and police responses to it.
 
The conflicting rights of ex-offenders and their (future) neighbours
Article
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises stable housing as a prerequisite for an adequate standard of living. A home provides shelter and enables personal development, thus contributing to the individual’s well-being. Despite this, however, many struggle to find a place to live. In the Netherlands, people with a history of criminal or anti-social behaviour (‘ex-offenders’) are among those whose search for housing is most problematic. They are sometimes viewed as unreliable tenants or denied access to housing out of fear for recidivism. At the same time, Dutch local authorities—responsible for maintaining public order—may (aim to) prevent an ex-offender from (re) settling in their municipality. Recent legislation in the Netherlands furthermore allows local authorities to screen and exclude people from certain urban areas based on their past behaviour. How do Dutch private and administrative actors decide between ex-offenders’ housing rights on the one hand and other persons’ (feelings of) safety and public order on the other? And how do the laws and policies in the Netherlands concerning the housing of ex-offenders relate to the state’s human rights obligations? Using doctrinal legal research methods and applying a normative, human rights framework, this paper concludes that while there are no out-right violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, several approaches in the Netherlands do appear to be problematic and at odds with international obligations.
 
Adi's age progression illustration.
Article
This study empirically analyses the definition of a ‘missing person’ for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which is part of a wider policy concerning missing persons published by the College of Policing (2016). Four hundred six participants (i.e. police officers and civilian staff) were asked for their viewpoint on (a) the suitability of the current definition, (b) the limitations of the definition and (c) components that should be included in a future definition. Sixty-five per cent of participants did not consider the current definition suitable and identified components they considered inappropriate as well as components they wished to add to a missing person definition. The findings are discussed in relation to the wider context of policy process and policy implementation, as well as the need for a coordinated response across public sectors, and comparability between countries within the EU and internationally. This paper advances policy learning by identifying challenges resulting from utilising the policy and concludes with recommendations in order to inform future policy discussions.
 
Article
Open data promotes transparency and accountability as everyone can analyse it. Law enforcement and the judiciary are increasingly making data available, to increase trust and confidence in the criminal justice system. Due to privacy legislation, judicial open data — like court judgements — in Europe is usually anonymized. And even if the court judgement has been made public, the rest of the case file is usually not published. Therefore, the question arises to what extent criminological research into sentencing can make use of anonymized open data. We answer this question based on a case study in which we use the open data of the Dutch criminal justice system that is available on https://www.rechtspraak.nl/Uitspraken . Over the period 2015–2020, we analysed sentencing in 25,366 court judgements and investigated the relationship between sentence severity and the offender’s use of advanced Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The most important results are, firstly, that offenders who use advanced ICT are sentenced to longer custodial sentences compared to other offenders. Secondly, sentencing research with open data is found to be feasible.
 
Article
Pre-trial detention empowers criminal courts to imprison defendants before they have been convicted of an offence. This is a significant power which should be subject to a rigourous decision-making process. A 2016 study of pre-trial detention practice in England and Wales highlighted concerns about such processes, recommending changes to law and practice in that jurisdiction. In 2017, several of these recommendations became law. This article details a follow-up empirical study, conducted in 2020, which sought to examine the impact of these changes on day-to-day pre-trial detention practice in criminal courts. After analysing the data, the article concludes that the changes in fact had minimal impact on practice, and suggests that changing the law does not necessarily translate into a change in the culture of pre-trial detention practice.
 
Article
Trafficking in human beings is closely related to the cross-border movements of people and smuggling of migrants. However, the victim-centred regulatory approach to this reality internationally adopted places the protection of victims’ human rights at the centre and demands an institutional response focused on their detection and protection. In order to determine whether this type of approach is being adopted in Spain, an online survey was conducted of 150 bodies, units and organisations that may have come into contact with such victims. The research results make it possible to determine how cases of trafficking are brought to light and which bodies are most effective at detecting them. They also offer information about the type of assistance offered to victims and the protection measures provided for under immigration law that are used depending on the type of trafficking suffered. These findings confirm that the institutional response to trafficking in human beings in Spain remains too focused on the trafficking of foreign women for sexual exploitation. Alternatives are proposed to overcome this highly biased response to the phenomenon.
 
Article
This article discusses a unique "natural experiment," the introduction of entry gates at Dutch train stations and the potential effects of this on crime in the areas around these stations. A quasi-experimental study was carried out to show that introducing entry gates correlated with a drop in crime in these areas. After entry gates had been introduced, potential offenders could only enter train stations with a valid ticket, which meant that they would be less likely to enter or leave these stations and more likely to choose other places to hang around in or for entering and leaving trains. A dataset was created in which the crime rates around train stations were registered for each month in the years 2013 through 2018. The changing numbers of travelers at each station were also taken into account, as this variable probably correlates with the amount of crime. A two-way fixed-effects model was run on data for about 260 train stations, with and without entry gates, using the relative crime rate per thousand travelers as the dependent variable. Based on this relative crime rate, the use of entry gates was found to coincide with a decrease of 9% in crime, compared to a situation without entry gates. This study can inform policymakers about the potential effects of entry gates in particular and about situational crime prevention in general. Moreover, it illustrates how implementing measures at various locations at different moments enables the effectiveness of such measures to be tested more precisely and with more confidence.
 
Article
There is consensus that intimate partner homicide (IPH) is a gender crime and that it is one of the most extreme forms of violence. This study aims to identify the differences and similarities between men and women who committed IPH. Data were collected from 75 criminal cases: 12 homicides perpetrated by women against men and 63 by men against women. At the individual level, homicidal women and men showed previous criminal records, substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. The intimate relationships were similar: regarding its duration, they were underway at the time of the IPH, they had a history of previous separations and reconciliations, and also, they had history of abusive dynamics. Regarding the modus operandi of IPH, the victims were mainly killed in the house of the victim and/or the aggressor, usually with a white armour weapon or a firearm and under the influence of substances. Nevertheless, there were specific differentiating factors. Men who committed murder were described as the primary aggressors (79%), while the women who committed murder (46%) were previously documented as victims of intimate partner violence. Attempted suicide/suicide after the homicide was proven in 38% of the IPH offender men, with no women having committed or attempted suicide. The time elapsed between the homicide and the judicial sentence was six times higher for women, and the length of imprisonment was on average three times higher for men. Most of the men were convicted of first-degree murder, while the women were mostly convicted of second-degree murder. Practical implications of the results are discussed.
 
Article
Increasingly, research investigates how the imprisonment of those with child care responsibilities may affect children and their outcomes. However, this research is often conducted in high-income, developed countries, with little known about its impact in low-income, least developed countries. This study starts to address this gap by examining if the imprisonment of those with child care responsibilities in Uganda, a low-income least developed country, may affect child poverty, wellbeing, health, diet, and education. Drawing on 76 interviews conducted with 61 adults and 15 children, participants were asked to recount what affect, if any, imprisonment of the child’s caregiver was believed to have on child poverty, health, wellbeing, diet, and education. The findings reveal that imprisonment was believed to have a largely negative effect on these aspects of children’s lives for most children, hindering government efforts to improve child outcomes and tackle key development challenges. Based on these findings, it is argued that our theoretical understanding of imprisonment and its effects may need to be broadened to include how differing socio-economic policy contexts may moderate the impact of imprisonment on child outcomes.
 
Positive responses of police cadets to police identity disclosure (n = 50)
Negative responses of police cadets to police identity disclosure (n = 49)
Article
The article sets out to examine the stances of novice and senior Cypriot law enforcers towards the disclosure of their identities in anti-riot operations. For doing so, the input of 201 Cypriot law enforcers into a two-phase cross-sectional study is examined. Unsurprisingly, it is demonstrated that, although by rendering police officers identifiable during crowd controls will unquestionably enhance police legitimacy, senior law enforcers oppose such development (regardless of their gender, rank, length of service, post, and experience). However, this is not reflected in the perceptions of police cadets, whose (only) 1-year service at the police seems to prevent them from following in the footsteps of their senior colleagues. To this end, particular aspects of police culture could have a substantive role in supressing procedural justice, that is transparency and justice in identifying deviant police officers during anti-riot operations.
 
Article
Illegal commerce in plants and their derivatives threatens and destroys numerous species and important natural resources, and may cause phytosanitary and health problems. This illegal trade, which has been boosted by the commercialisation of the Internet, has been relatively overlooked in criminological research. Furthermore, the policing of illegal plant markets remains limited and poorly resourced, with law enforcement agencies lacking awareness and technical capacity in investigation and prosecution services. Based on semi-structured interviews with law enforcement officers and other relevant experts, this study, developed in the context of the ESRC-funded project “FloraGuard: Tackling the illegal trade in endangered plants” offers an analysis of the characteristics of illegal online trading in plants and of the actors operating therein, of current policing practices, and identification of the main challenges to be addressed to better assist law enforcement. It concludes by offering practical recommendations to curb this illegal market.
 
Indexed reported offences after the penal code and special laws, subtracted drug law offences, and reported offences after Law of euphoria-inducing substances offences, Penal code section 191 (Kilde: Denmark's Statistics, Table: STRAF20)
Reported offences after LES by police district, index 2007. (Kilde: Denmark's Statistics, Table: STRAF22)
Reported LES offences by police districts, 2007-2017
LES season adjustment factors, 1996-2017
Article
Enforcement intensity towards drug law offences in Denmark has increased since 2004, making Denmark one of the few Western countries that is heading towards a more repressive drug control approach. The aim of this study is to examine patterns and correlates of drug enforcement intensity over time. Policy documents and criminal statistics on drug law offences, from 1996 to 2017, are analysed in the context of the rationality perspective and the theory of policy coherence. Time series analyses and bivariate tests of statistical significance are used to examine enforcement intensity over time, between seasons, and in the gender and ethnic composition of convictions. Three periods are identified, delineated by documents that set forth drug policy aims. From 1996 to 2003, a series of qualitative changes to the legal framework was introduced, followed by a quantitative increase in enforcement pressure from 2004 to 2010 with a focus on Copenhagen. From 2011 to 2017, other regions of the country also increased enforcement. The increased intensity in drug control followed a period of increasing cannabis prevalence rates. The increase in reported minor drug law offences correlated with increased seasonal variations and increased disparity in the gender and ethnicity of convicted individuals.
 
Confiscation receipts totals 2003–18 (£m)
Confiscation receipts 2003–2013 (% of value of orders made)
Values of confiscation receipts by type of offence 2003–16 (£m)
Relative contributions by the police, RARTs and other agenices to total confiscation 2003–16 (%)
Trends in contributions by the police, RARTs and other agencies to confiscation 2003–16 (£m)
Article
The policy and practice of confiscating criminal assets to control crime and recover illicit wealth has come to occupy a central position in national and international policing and security agendas. However, this practice has raised many questions about agencies’ abilities to measure success and also the social impacts of asset confiscation. This article contributes to the crime control debates by exploring contemporary literature and drawing upon a subset of data from the Joint Asset Recovery Database (JARD). The first part of the article briefly outlines the key legislative provisions of asset recovery in the UK. The second part explores what the JARD data tells us about the performance of the confiscation of proceeds of crime approach and it will argue that seizing illicit wealth has not been the main priority for government. It will argue instead that the proceeds of crime approach, originally designed to target the most serious and organised crime, has effectively become a disciplining and symbolic tool against relatively lower level acquisitive crimes. It concludes that while technical measures of impact remain inconclusive, it is more important to subject the ideological underpinnings of the proceeds of crime law to critical scrutiny. Available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s10610-019-09423-5
 
Article
This Special Issue is a collection of seven papers that seek to better our understanding of how urban mobility relates to crime patterns, and how day to day movement of people in urban spaces (urban mobility) is related to spatio-temporal patterns of crime. It focusses on urban mobility, or the dynamic movement of people in relation to crime risk. Moreover, it questions how to best measure this risk using an appropriate crime denominator. Building on the work of Sarah Boggs, this special issue contends that we need more than an appropriate denominator related to the type of crime we are measuring, for example violence based on the number of potential victims present (the exposed or ambient population), or the number of burglaries per households in an area, or the number of shoplifting offences per number of shops present. It argues that this denominator needs to be both ‘crime type’ appropriate, and to be spatially and temporally appropriate. When considering urban mobility as flows of people, the challenge is that the denominator can not be considered as a fixed or static concept, and that we need to consider the ‘dynamic denominator’ challenge. Indeed, crime hot spots which do not account for dynamic denominators may be misleading for resource prioritisation. This special issue explores a range of potential solutions to this including mobile/cell phone data, transportation data, land use data, and other possible measures to address this.
 
Selection of studies according to PRISMA Guidelines (see, Mother et al. 2010)
Reviewed studies by year of publication
Article
We systematically review the effectiveness of police presence. In doing so, we investigate concepts of police presence and differences between reported effects. Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and protocols, we systematically identify and review eligible studies on police presence. Further, quality assessment and findings synthesis are used to map limitations of current research as well as grounds for future avenues. The systematic search strategies yielded 49 studies focusing on testing the effects of police presence or evaluating its measurement. We find evidence that police presence has mostly crime reduction effects on crimes related to motor theft, property, violence and guns. Police presence also reduces calls for service and improves traffic behaviour. Police presence focused on specific areas, times and types of crime achieves maximum effectiveness. The reviewed studies show a high degree of heterogeneity in reporting which limits comparability of findings across studies. Research on police presence presents evidence for significant crime preventative effects of focused police actions and shows strongest effects when focused on certain areas, times, or types of crimes. We encourage future research to focus on police presence en route and its effects, including crime prevention, traffic regulation and fear of crime.
 
Recorded crimes in Rotterdam 2003–2017, including burglaries, illegal drug trade, robberies, (aggravated) assault, battery, rape and sexual assaults, child sexual abuse, and manslaughter and murder
Percentage of respondents who sometimes feel unsafe in the neighborhood
Relative change in neighborhood unsafety scores. a Period 2003–2007. b Period 2008–2017
Descriptive statistics
Article
There is little research on how resident perceptions of neighborhood unsafety develop over time and how changes in these perceptions relate to decreasing crime rates. The present study analyzes and explains trends in perceived neighborhood unsafety within the Dutch city of Rotterdam, based on survey and register data collected in the years 2003–2017 (N = 148.344, 62 neighborhoods). In addition to crime, we also assess to what extent (changes in) the economic status, level of ethnic heterogeneity, degree of residential mobility, and amount of disorder in the neighborhood play a role in how safe or unsafe inhabitants have felt in a 15-year period. We find that unsafety levels steadily declined in the years up to 2007. This decrease was best explained by changes regarding the economic status, victimization rates and disorder level of neighborhoods. After a sudden increase in feelings of unsafety between 2007 and 2008, explained by the shift towards using more self-administrated questionnaires, fear levels stabilized during the remaining years (2008–2017) although recorded crime levels continued to decrease in this period.
 
Article
It is often argued that the work of prison officers involves many value tensions. However, existing conceptualizations seem to be insufficient to address the broad range of such tensions. For example, the tensions are often depicted as binary (‘custody versus care’), operationalizations of the values are inconsistent, and tensions are not always linked to specific difficult situations for prison officers. While building upon existing work, this article looks at these value tensions through a different lens. It reconceptualizes them as ethical dilemmas and uses Moral Foundations Theory to describe the different values involved in those ethical dilemmas. Using interview data collected in a Belgian prison, the article shows how ethical dilemmas are more complex than is often assumed, and that prison officers draw upon a multitude of values to deal with them.
 
Prevalence of cyber victimisation, over the lifetime and in the past 12 months (%)
Logistic regression models for different forms of cybercrime victimisation, average marginal effects AME, and (CI 95%)
Article
This study examines the prevalence of different types of cybercrime victimisation and their shared risk factors among the population of Finland. We examine how respondents’ socio-economic background variables, past offline victimisation experiences, online activity, user skills, and protective measures impact the risk of the most common forms of online victimisation and online polyvictimisation. Our nationally representative survey data were collected from 5455 Finns aged 15 to 74 years (response rate 39%) as part of the Finnish National Crime Survey in 2018. According to our findings, the five most common forms of victimisation were malware, harassment, sexual harassment, hacking, and fraud. Online routines and exposure to potential offenders, along with past offline victimisation experiences, served as notable risk factors for a range of different victimisation experiences online. Our findings show slightly different SES risk factors for victimisation of different online offences, thereby indicating the diverse nature of different types of online victimisation. Our findings also show that young age, better financial situation, high internet use, and user skills, along with past offline victimisation of property crime and violence, associate with increased risk of online polyvictimisation. High user protection decreased the risk of online polyvictimisation.
 
Theoretical model of how flows of people impact on crime based on the routine activity perspective
Bivariate correlations of crime density with bus passenger density for six crime types
Logistic regression analyses for three degrees of hot spot hotness and six crime types, expressed as odds ratios
Article
Places with persistently high levels of crime, hot spots, are an important object of study. To some extent, the high levels of crime at such hot spots are likely to be related to flows of people. City center locations with large flows of people are quite often also hot spots, e.g., hot spots for pick pocketing at a central train station, or hot spots for assault in the nightlife district. This can be related to crime pattern theory, or to the routine activity perspective, which both suggest that flows of people can affect crime. The present study attempts to explore and quantify whether there are differences in the association between flows of people and crime for different crime types. The analysis considers locations with high crime counts for six crime types in the city of Malmö, Sweden. For each crime type, hot spots are identified and mapped, and in order to explore whether, or how, these are related to flows of people, the crime levels are then analyzed in relation to the number of people who boarded a local bus ( N = 33,134,198) nearby. The paper shows that all six crime types are associated with flows of people, although less so for arson and vandalism. This is hypothesized to be due to the relatively constant target availability for these crimes as opposed to the other crime types studied.
 
Subway station open/closure status and spatial network buffers
Bronx robbery hot spots and Bronx subway stations/subway lines
“Crime Normalization Hypothesis” model for the 1/20 mile subway station buffer—subway station closure, resulting crime decline, subway station reopens, resulting crime increase, crime returns to “normal” pre-closure levels. The 178% increase from closure to reopening is equivalent to only a + 8% difference compared to pre-closure, or “normal,” robbery frequency
Article
This paper takes advantage of a natural experiment involving subway station closures to examine how subway ridership is associated with the impact of robbery victimization within spatial network buffers immediately surrounding subway stations in Bronx (County), New York. The New York City subway system is the busiest in the USA, with an annual ridership estimated at 1.8 billion people. Key findings of this research include noteworthy relationships between robbery hot spots and subway stations, as well as substantial reductions in robbery frequency during temporary subway station closures, with larger reductions occurring in closer proximities to the subway stations. There was also a significant robbery pattern “normalization process” that occurred after the closed subway stations were reopened where robbery frequency returned to historically “normal” pre-closure levels. These notable decreases of crime in and around subway stations during the station closure time periods, as well as the prominent increases in robbery when subway stations reopened, should be taken into consideration when planning transit maintenance, conducting crime prevention initiatives, and scheduling crime control strategies.
 
Article
The aim of this study is to assess the nature and space-temporal dynamics of property crimes (theft and robbery) in transport nodes, namely, metro stations and their immediate surrounding areas. The analysis is based on crime data over São Paulo’s metro system from 2010 to 2017. Drawing from environmental criminology theory, the methodology combines geographical information system (GIS) as well as statistical analysis using hypothesis testing and negative binomial regression models. Results show that thefts happen more often inside the station and robberies outside, with signs of possible interaction between these environments. Crime is often highly concentrated in a few inner city and end stations, but it varies depending on location and time. Future research and policy implications of the results add to the contribution of this current study.
 
Article
Alternatives to population-based crime rates were first introduced in 1965. Activity-based crime rates derive numerator data from activity-specific crime events, then match these to time spent in the same activities. Activity-based rates can produce a vastly different picture of risk, not captured by population-based rates. Given that numerator and denominator data may be drawn from different sources using different methods, these rates can create a matching challenge. Yet, dramatic results justify that effort. This paper offers new activity-based crime rate calculations for Canada and Australia, then relates these to prior estimates in the USA. Despite data variations among the three nations, activity-based crime rates give us an overall understanding of crime risk not captured by population-based rates.
 
Top-cited authors
Patricia L. Brantingham
  • Simon Fraser University
Paul J. Brantingham
  • Simon Fraser University
E.R. Kleemans
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Gorazd Mesko
  • University of Maribor
Mihaly Fazekas
  • Central European University