Brian J Francis

Brian J Francis
Lancaster University | LU · Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Professor of Social Statistics

About

298
Publications
65,347
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Introduction
I am a social statistician with interests in preference models, latent class methods for longitudinal data, mixture models and categorical data. I research into quantitative criminology focusing on the criminal careers of offenders and developmental change. I am interested in administrative and survey data and violence and serious offending, including sexual offending, homicide, organised crime. Recent work has focused on high frequency victimisation and gender based violence.

Publications

Publications (298)
Article
In criminal careers research, specialization has usually been defined through prespecifying spheres of criminal activity (violent/nonviolent or sexual, violent, burglary, theft, etc.) and then determining the amounts of criminal activity lying within these spheres over a certain time period. However, there is increasing recognition that some offend...
Article
Full-text available
Escalation in crime seriousness over the criminal lifecourse continues to be an important issue to study in criminal careers. Quantitative research in this area has not yet been well developed owing to the difficulty of measuring crime seriousness and the complexity of escalation trajectories. In this paper we suggest that there are two types of es...
Article
Full-text available
This paper is motivated by a Eurobarometer survey on science knowledge. As part of the survey, respondents were asked to rank sources of science information in order of importance. The official statistical analysis of these data however failed to use the complete ranking information. We instead propose a method which treats ranked data as a set of...
Chapter
The synthesis mechanism given in [4] uses saturated models, along with overdispersed count distributions, to generate synthetic categorical data. The mechanism is controlled by tuning parameters, which can be tuned according to a specific risk or utility metric. Thus expected properties of synthetic data sets can be determined analytically a priori...
Article
Over the past three decades, synthetic data methods for statistical disclosure control have continually evolved, but mainly within the domain of survey data sets. There are certain characteristics of administrative databases, such as their size, which present challenges from a synthesis perspective and require special attention. This paper, through...
Article
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In England and Wales, police consider potential harm in missing person investigations using graded risk assessment. Using 4746 missing person reports made to one police force in 2015, we investigate the extent to which age, sex and police risk factors predict high-risk classifications and harmful case outcomes. We find age, sex and specific risk fa...
Article
A virtual interview with Murray Aitkin by Brian Francis and John Hinde, two of the original members of the Centre for Applied Statistics that Murray created at Lancaster University. The talk ranges over Murray's reflections of a career in statistical modelling and the many different collaborations across the world that have been such a significant...
Preprint
Full-text available
Over the past three decades, synthetic data methods for statistical disclosure control have continually developed; methods have adapted to account for different data types, but mainly within the domain of survey data sets. Certain characteristics of administrative databases - sometimes just the sheer volume of records of which they are comprised -...
Article
Full-text available
To revisit a study on the prevalence of Down Syndrome (DS) in the Fylde of Lancashire and ionizing radiation, using new birth data that allow better control for maternal age. Associations between ionizing radiation and DS prevalence have been controversial. Some studies link temporal variation in prevalence to ionizing radiation; others do not. Cas...
Article
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Cross-sensory correspondences can reflect crosstalk between aligned conceptual feature dimensions, though uncertainty remains regarding the identities of all the dimensions involved. It is unclear, for example, if heaviness contributes to correspondences separately from size. Taking steps to dissociate variations in heaviness from variations in siz...
Article
Accurate records of victims of modern slavery identified by various agencies allow investigators to compare different jurisdictions, track fluctuations in prevalence over time and evaluate preventative interventions. As well as enumerating those victims known to agencies, it would be desirable to know how many are working undetected under condition...
Article
It illustrates how domestic abuse is more likely to occur in the UK on the days when the England national team play in the FIFA World Cup tournament. It also suggests reasons for the correlation.
Article
Full-text available
BACKGROUND Infant mortality in 19th century rural places has been largely neglected: to study it offers new insight into rural demography. OBJECTIVE This study examines infant mortality, and census occupations, between 1851 and 1911 across all the rural Registration Districts (RDs) of England and Wales. METHODS The decadal 1850s-1900s RD-level demo...
Article
The study of nineteenth-century infant mortality in Britain has neglected the rural dimension to a surprising degree. This article maps the change in infant mortality rate (IMR) between the 1850s and the 1900s at registration district (RD) level. Latent trajectory analysis, a longitudinal model-based clustering method, is used to identify the clust...
Article
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Incarcerated populations across the world have been found to be consistently and significantly more vulnerable to problem gambling than general populations in the same countries. In an effort to gain a more specific understanding of this vulnerability the present study applied latent class analysis and criminal career theory to gambling data collec...
Book
Full-text available
The extent of violence against women is currently hidden. How should violence be measured? How should research and new ways of thinking about violence improve its measurement? Could improved measurement change policy? The book is a guide to how the measurement of violence can be best achieved. It shows how to make femicide, rape, domestic violence,...
Chapter
This chapter presents a comparative analysis of England and Wales and the Netherlands through examining criminal lifestyles through conviction data and how they change with age. The analysis has used latent Markov modelling to jointly estimate the crime mix patterns (different offenders have different selections of offences) and the transition prob...
Article
Everyday language reveals how stimuli encoded in one sensory feature domain can possess qualities normally associated with a different domain (e.g., higher pitch sounds are bright, light in weight, sharp, and thin). Such cross-sensory associations appear to reflect crosstalk among aligned (corresponding) feature dimensions, including brightness, he...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Recent work has suggested that specialization is correlated with frequency of offending, but this observed relationship may actually depend on the measuring instrument used. The diversity index is a common method of measuring specialization in such studies, and this paper investigates whether this observed correlation is due in part to the...
Article
The paper investigates the group structure in a terrorist network through the latent class model and a Bayesian model comparison method for the number of latent classes. The analysis of the terrorist network is sensitive to the model specification. Under one model it clearly identifies a group containing the leaders and organizers, and the group st...
Article
Purpose – Organised Crime is notoriously difficult to identify and measure, resulting in limited empirical evidence to inform policy makers and practitioners. The purpose of this paper is to explore the feasibility of identifying a greater number of organised crime offenders, currently captured but invisible, within existing national general crime...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose This paper investigates the use of B-spline smoothers as an alternative to polynomials when estimating trajectory shape in group-based trajectory models. The use of polynomials in these models can cause undesirable curve shapes, such as uplifts at the end of the trajectory, which may not be present in the data. Moreover, polynomial curves a...
Article
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Background: We investigate in this feasibility study whether specific lip movements increase prenatally when hearing a particular sound. We hypothesised that fetuses would produce more mouth movements resembling those required to make the sound stimulus they heard (i.e. mouth stretch) compared with a no-sound control group who heard no specific au...
Chapter
In this chapter we describe a newly developed, objective coding system of fetal facial movements. It is argued that such a system is not only necessary to compare results from different laboratories but also has the potential to be used clinically in order to identify compromised fetuses. Furthermore, the system can be used to record fetal behavior...
Article
Full-text available
The fall in the rate of violent crime has stopped. This is a finding of an investigation using the Crime Survey for England and Wales, 1994–2014, and an improved methodology to include the experiences of high-frequency victims. The cap on the number of crimes included has been removed. We prevent overall volatility from rising by using three-year m...
Article
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The same core set of cross-sensory correspondences connecting stimulus features across different sensory channels are observed, regardless of the modality of the stimulus with which the correspondences are probed. This observation suggests that correspondences involve modality-independent representations of aligned conceptual feature dimensions and...
Article
This paper investigates the use of latent variable models in assessing escalation in crime seriousness. It has two aims. The first is to contrast a mixed-effects approach to modelling crime escalation with a latent variable approach. The paper therefore examines whether there are specific subgroups of offenders with distinct seriousness trajectory...
Article
This article evaluates a new Bayesian approach to determining the number of components in a finite mixture. We evaluate through simulation studies mixtures of normals and latent class mixtures of Bernoulli responses. For normal mixtures we use a “gold standard” set of population models based on a well-known “testbed” data set—the galaxy recession v...
Chapter
The chapter focuses on prevalence of sex offending and sex offenders. The authors use official conviction data which provides long criminal careers for a variety of offenders of different ages; such data is needed to fully investigate changing rates. It is important to distinguish between changes in number of individuals committing a sex offense, a...
Book
The need to stop rape is pressing and, since it is the outcome of a wide range of practices and institutions in society, so too must the policies be to stop it This important book offers a comprehensive guide to the international policies developed to stop rape , together with case study examples on how they work. The book engages with the law and...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
~~~ Note: the below abstract is what I submitted for the conference, but unfortunately I haven't managed to get the data yet so the presentation is entirely methodological. I will be giving a similar presentation at Eurocrim in September, but I will (hopefully!) have got the data by then and so will be able to include some results as well. Accordin...
Article
Full-text available
This article suggests a new approach for modelling longitudinal paired comparison data. As individual preferences may change from one time point to another, we propose extending the basic log-linear Bradley–Terry model by incorporating a Markovian structure with temporal within-comparison dependence parameters and parameters indicating the amount o...
Article
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One way to assess fetal health of smokers is to ask mothers to count perceived movements, an unreliable method hiding differences in prenatal development. The aim of this pilot study was to assess subtle fetal movements in ultrasound-scans and establish whether they differ in fetuses of mothers who smoked and non-smoking mothers. This longitudinal...
Article
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Sociological and criminological views of domestic and gender-based violence generally either dismiss it as not worthy of consideration, or focus on specific groups of offenders and victims (male youth gangs, partner violence victims). In this paper, we take a holistic approach to violence, extending the definition from that commonly in use to encom...
Article
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Introduction While the rate of most violent crime is falling, the fall in the rate of domestic violence has stopped. There has been a general reduction in many types of crime since the 1990s. But in violent crime where the perpetrator is a domestic relation, this fall has stopped, even though for other perpetrators the fall is continuing. There is...
Article
This research evaluates the identification of group structure in social networks through the latent class model and a new Bayesian model comparison method for the number of latent classes. The approach is applied to a well-known network of women in Natchez Mississippi. The latent class analysis reproduces the group structure of the women identified...
Article
Research suggests that fetuses open or close their mouth in relation to directed movements but it is unclear whether mouth opening anticipates the touch or is a reaction to touch, as there has been no analysis so far of (1) the facial area of touch and (2) the sequential ordering of touch and mouth movements. If there is prenatal development of the...
Article
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This longitudinal observational study investigated whether foetuses change their hand preference with gestational age, and also examined the effects of maternal stress on lateralized foetal self-touch. Following ethical approval, fifteen healthy foetuses (eight girls and seven boys) were scanned four times from 24 to 36 weeks gestation. Self-touch...
Article
Objectives This study aims to establish whether empirical evidence exists to support the anecdotal view that the Fédération Internationale de Football Association world cup football (soccer) tournament can be associated with a rise in reported domestic abuse incidents, when viewed remotely via television. Method A quantitative analysis, using Pois...
Article
Full-text available
Background Human lateralized behaviors relate to the asymmetric development of the brain. Research of the prenatal origins of laterality is equivocal with some studies suggesting that fetuses exhibit lateralized behavior and other not finding such laterality. Given that by around 22 weeks gestation the left cerebral hemisphere compared to the right...
Book
Full-text available
The study provides an overview of the worldwide best practices for rape prevention and for assisting women victims of rape. It reviews the international literature and offers selected examples of promising practices. It addresses the comprehensive range of policies in the fields of gender equality; law and justice; economy, development and social i...
Article
A 35-year follow-up of a series of 317 middle-class offenders in England and Wales suggests that the dangers of employing offenders may be more limited than expected. Although 40% were subsequently convicted, only 8% were subsequently convicted of offenses that directly and adversely affected an employer. This work should challenge the “exaggerated...
Article
Full-text available
Policies aimed at managing high-risk offenders, which include sex offenders, often assume they are a homogeneous population. These policies also tend to assume the pattern of offending is the same for all sex offenders, and is stable. This study challenges these assumptions by examining the life course offending trajectories of 780 convicted adult...
Article
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Background With advances of research on fetal behavioural development, the question of whether we can identify fetal facial expressions and determine their developmental progression, takes on greater importance. In this study we investigate longitudinally the increasing complexity of combinations of facial movements from 24 to 36 weeks gestation in...
Article
This article discusses the use of mixture models in the analysis of longitudinal partially ranked data, where respondents, for example, choose only the preferred and second preferred out of a set of items. To model such data we convert it to a set of paired comparisons. Covariates can be incorporated into the model. We use a nonparametric mixture t...
Article
Purpose To examine the long-term sexual recidivism risk of juvenile sex offenders in England and Wales, and to compare the risk to that of a first time sexual offense for non-convicted juveniles. Additionally, the study explores the long term sexual recidivism risk of other types of juvenile offenders, and the long term violent recidivism risk of t...
Article
Full-text available
Although some research suggests that fetuses yawn, others disagree arguing that is it simple mouth opening. Furthermore there is no developmental account of fetal yawning compared with simple mouth opening. The aim of the present study was to establish in a repeated measures design the development of fetal yawning compared with simple mouth opening...
Presentation
Full-text available
It is commonplace in social science to ask respondents a set of attitudinal items, but there is very little guidance as to how to model such data. This talk attempts to address this lack of guidance. We will see that the methodology proposed will vary according to the purpose of the analysis and the philosophy of the researcher.
Article
The long-term outcome for middle-class offenders after conviction is an under-researched area in criminology. This present study considers 317 offenderswith a follow-up of at least 35yearswho are seeking white-collar employment after conviction. On the basis of their previous criminal history, five clusters of offenders can be identified using late...
Article
This paper considers the analysis of paired comparison experiments in the presence of missing responses. Various scenarios for how missing data might arise in paired comparisons are considered, and it is suggested that the most common types of missing data mechanism would be either missing completely at random or missing not at random. A new model...
Article
Hypothesis Since understanding of normal neuromaturation of the fetus allows for the identification of abnormal patters of development (Allen 2005) our newly developed method (e.g., Reissland et al 2011) could serve as a roadmap of normal development of fetal facial movements from 24-36 weeks gestation. Results In 15 healthy fetuses we found analys...
Article
Following Karwoski, Odbert, and Osgood (1942, Journal of General Psychology 26 199-222), it is proposed that cross-sensory correspondences can arise from extensive, bi-directional cross-activation between dimensions of connotative meaning. If this account is correct, the same set of cross-sensory correspondences (eg brightness with high pitch, high...
Chapter
The main aim of this chapter is to focus on the patterns and characteristics of homicide in England and Wales. There is an initial consideration of definitions of homicide together with the legal position (including some proposed changes). Then there is a discussion of homicide rates from 1998 to 2008, thus identifying important trends. The analyse...
Article
Full-text available
Fetal facial development is essential not only for postnatal bonding between parents and child, but also theoretically for the study of the origins of affect. However, how such movements become coordinated is poorly understood. 4-D ultrasound visualisation allows an objective coding of fetal facial movements. Based on research using facial muscle m...
Article
Full-text available
Several models and risk assessments that estimate nutrient transfer from agricultural land have been developed. The majority of these associate increased particulate or total nutrient transfer with increased slope and do not make any inferences on the impact of slope on the transfer of nutrients in solution. These models and risk assessments are in...
Article
Although a number of studies have found that maternal stress affects the fetus, it is unclear whether jerky fetal movements observed on ultrasound scans are indicative of fetal stress, or whether they are part of normal development. The present study was designed to examine the relationship between jerky fetal arm movements in relation to fetal age...
Article
Peatlands are important terrestrial carbon stores and consequently it is necessary to ensure they are well managed. Many peatlands were drained using open ditches and this has been associated with an increase in dissolved organic carbon concentrations. Therefore, recent peatland restoration schemes include blocking these open drains using a variety...
Article
Bigger objects look heavier than smaller but otherwise identical objects. When hefted as well as seen, however, bigger objects feel lighter (the size-weight illusion), confirming that the association between visual size and weight has a perceptual component. Darker objects also look heavier than brighter but otherwise identical objects. It is uncer...
Article
Co-convictions are court convictions made at the same time as a more serious conviction. Their importance has been little recognized.We investigate their value using data on two separate serious crimes. Taking official conviction careers in England and Wales (1979—2001) for blackmail (n = 5774) and kidnapping offenders (n = 7291), we considered how...
Article
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Using Danish registers for a 1980 birth cohort of 29,944 males with parental information and following up these cases for 25 years, the study considers four paradigms of crime reduction (parental child rearing, structural factors around adolescence, locality and individual resources). Focusing on offenders with first-time convictions for shopliftin...
Article
Peatlands are important terrestrial carbon stores but their environmental degradation has led to concerns of increased carbon loss. Many peatlands have been drained using open ditches and this practice has been associated with enhanced dissolved organic carbon loss and water discolouration. Recent peatland restoration schemes have therefore include...
Article
Full-text available
The training of postgraduate students in transferable skills is becoming increasingly important in the UK across disciplines. For postgraduate statisticians, a crucial ability is to be able to develop consultancy skills. These include the ability to interact with a client, to distil the nature of the problem, to choose a suitable methodological app...
Chapter
Full-text available
The use of relevant and appropriate datasets is recognised as an important prerequisite in teaching statistics to non-statisticians. Such examples help to provide motivation for the student and can aid both understanding and performance. While impressive resources such as the Data and Story Library and the datasets section of STATLIB exist, there i...