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Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science

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What is crime science?

Crime science is devoted to finding what works to cut crime. More formally, crime science is the application of scientific methods and knowledge from many disciplines to the development of practical and ethical ways to reduce crime. Unpacking this definition, crime science has the following features:

Crime reduction

First, the purpose of crime science is to reduce crime. Crime reduction may be achieved through the prevention of crimes before they occur, the disruption of crimes that are occurring, the rapid detection of offenders after crimes have been committed, and the management of known offenders to reduce reoffending. Crime scientists actively engage with criminal justice policy makers and front-line practitioners to develop and implement strategies to reduce crime.

Scientific methods and knowledge

Second, crime science involves the application of scientific methods and knowledge. Crime science is an evidence-based, problem-solving approach that embraces empirical research. Crime scientists examine who commits crime and why, what crimes they commit and how they go about it, and where and when their crimes are carried out. Adopting the scientific method, they collect data, generate hypotheses about patterns and trends, and build testable models to explain observed findings.

Multidisciplinary appproach

Third, the methods and knowledge needed to reduce crime can come from many disciplines. Crime science is multidisciplinary, and in particular, seeks to bring social and physical scientists together to find new ways to cut crime. Architecture, biology, chemistry, computer science, criminology, economics, engineering, epidemiology, geography, industrial design, mathematics, medicine, psychology, sociology, statistics, and town planning can all contribute to crime reduction.