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Department of Security and Crime Science

About Us

About Us

About the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science

In 1999 one of Britain’s best-loved public figures, the broadcaster Jill Dando, was murdered outside her home in west London. Her co-presenter on Crimewatch, Nick Ross, proposed a memorial to her in the form of a university institute devoted to a new scientific approach to tackling crime. The Jill Dando Fund was set up and University College London was selected to host the Jill Dando Institute. The JDI came into being on the 26th April 2001, the second anniversary of Jill Dando’s death, under the inaugural Directorship of Professor Gloria Laycock.

In 2009, the Department of Security and Crime Science was established at UCL as a separate entity from JDI in order to facilitate the offering of post-graduate taught and research courses. JDI remains as a research institute that spans UCL, drawing expertise from many other university departments with an interest in security and crime reduction. 

What is crime science?

Crime science is a radical departure from the usual ways of thinking about and responding to the problem of crime and security in society. The distinct nature of crime science is captured in the name.

First, crime science is about crime. Traditional criminological approaches are concerned largely with criminality, focussing on distant causes such as poverty, social disadvantage, parenting practices, and school performance. In contrast, crime scientists are concerned with near causes of crime – why, where, when, by whom, and how a particular offence is committed. They examine ways in which the immediate situation provides opportunities and provocations that account for the highly patterned distribution of crime events.

Second, crime science is about science. Many traditional responses to controlling crime are unsystematic and based on untested assumptions about what works. In contrast, crime science is an evidence-based, problem-solving approach that embraces empirical research. Adopting the scientific method, crime scientists collect data on crime, generate hypotheses about crime patterns and trends, and build testable models to explain observed findings.

Crime science is practical in its orientation and multidisciplinary in its foundations. Crime scientists actively engage with front-line criminal justice practitioners to reduce crime by making it more difficult for individuals to offend, and making it more likely that they will be detected if they do offend. Many disciplines contribute to the crime science agenda, including, criminology, sociology, psychology, geography, architecture, industrial design, epidemiology, computer science, mathematics, engineering, and biology.

Please click here to view a video outlining crime science.

This video provides a brief background about crime science and the ways in which this emerging discipline is impacting on a better approach to crime reduction. Highlights from the video include research on how crime may 'migrate' like a disease - thus allowing us to predict where crime may next occur, and innovation to create an anti-theft bike. Practitioners from police and security agencies also give their views on crime science."

Jill was one of a rare breed of presenters who are able to project the warmth of their personality across the television screen. Consequently she was loved by millions, who felt they could relate to her. Whether male or female, old or young, she was admired and invited her into their homes each week.

Born on 9th November 1961 she was brought up in Weston-super-Mare in Somerset . A congenital heart problem made Jill a sickly baby and at the age of eight she underwent life saving pioneering surgery in Bristol to correct the defect. She was one of the first survivors at the time. She progressed through the local schools catching up with her peers and being voted Head Girl at her sixth form college.

Her first job was as a local reporter with the Weston Mercury while attending journalism college in Cardiff . After five years she moved to Plymouth to work with the BBC and from there her career progressed rapidly. Her potential as a national TV presenter was spotted and she was persuaded to move to London presenting Breakfast News. From there she gained a reputation as a journalist who could function with a cool head under the most extreme of pressures.


Before long Jill was presenting the Holiday programme, the Six O Clock News and Crimewatch UK . Her adaptability was renowned and something she recognised herself. "I am a professional chameleon" was a favourite phrase of hers ' when asked which area of television she preferred.

After seven years she decided to leave the Holiday programme to pursue projects closer to home. This potentially created free time in her diary. However, this was not to be. She presented a new series of The Antiques Inspectors and numerous projects were planned. All major BBC events for 1999/2000 involved Jill and she had just won the TRIC award as BBC Personality of the Year for the second time in three years. She was their greatest asset.

Jill enjoyed her fame but never let it get the better of her. She possessed a modesty which made her feel and behave normally despite the adulation and attention. It was an endearing personality trait that meant she treated all people as equal.

On 26th April 1999 Jill was murdered on her own front doorstep by a single gunshot. She had been returning to pick up her post and plan her wedding in September.

The shock and disbelief was universal, making news bulletins around the world. Tributes were paid in the House of Commons and Buckingham Palace . Thousands of people wrote to Jill ' s family and friends to express their sorrow while millions followed developments on the television.

Two newspapers (the Sun and the Daily Mail ) together with Crimestoppers posted the biggest reward in history for information to solve the crime.

The UK lost one of its brightest stars and most gifted presenters. Jill 's achievements in life were remarkable. From the tragedy of her death public subscriptions have created a positive memorial, and something of which she would have been hugely

The forget-me-not and the phrase not for nothing express the determination of friends, family and Trustees to create something good out of the tragedy of Jill's untimely death.

jdiflower The forget-me-not and the phrase not for nothing express the determination of friends, family and Trustees to create something good out of the tragedy of Jill's untimely death.

Page last modified on 12 jun 15 08:50