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 - crime science. The Jill Dando Fund was set up and UCL 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 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.
- The History of the JDI
The JDI is the first institute in the world devoted to crime science. Research is concentrated on new ways to cut crime and increase security, drawing upon UCL's vast experience in related disciplines, including architecture, economics, engineering, geography, medicine, psychology, statistics and town planning.
It brings together 30 top research departments and research groups across UCL all with a working interest in the field of security and crime. The JDI aims to promote multidisciplinary research in crime and security and also promote multidisciplinary conferences, events, training and short courses in these fields. Partners and clients include organisations from academia, industry, commerce and government.
In order to offer formal degree qualifications, UCL created the Department of Security and Crime Science as the teaching arm of the JDI. The Department offers an undergraduate programme, master's courses and PhD programmes. Its alumni have gone into roles within Government, the security services and academia.
- 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:
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.
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.
- Jill Dando - A biography
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. 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.