UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science


Catalina Mellado


Sociologist, MSc.
Sociologist from the University of Chile and MSc of Social Research Methods from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Advanced knowledge on quantitative and qualitative research methods. Experience on research on a range of topics within Public Security Policies, such as Young Offenders, Crime and Drugs, Criminal Justice System, Police Accountability, Neighbourhood and Gender violence, among others.
Research interests: Urban crime, neighbourhood effects, police institutions, criminal justice system.

Research project

Multilevel explanation of homicide concentration and patterns in LAC cities as a function of processes of social disorganization and opportunity


For the last century, Social Disorganisation Theory (SDT) and associated theoretical principles such as collective efficacy have provided explanations for the geographical distribution of crime. This theory considers neighbourhood effects, and how social, cultural and organisational traits interact with structural characteristics to influence crime rates. Research on SDT has had mixed results when tested outside North American cities. In Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) cities, the processes of urbanisation, social dynamics, organisational structure and cultural influence in neighbourhoods differ from the North American experience (Villarreal & Silva, 2006). Understanding how SDT influences crime, in particular violent crime, in the urban settings of LAC cities requires examination.

This research aims to contribute to the criminological framework of Latin America and the Caribbean by providing empirical evidence about the relevance of SDT in these settings. What may emerge is an adaptation of SDT for it to be applicable to LAC settings, or the creation of a new theory that explains how neighbourhood effects influence patterns of violent crime in LAC cities. Improving our understanding about how SDT influences violent crime can in turn improve the policies that are used to prevent crime in neighbourhoods and more widely inform improvements in urban planning.


Homicides, Violent Crime, Latin America, Community-based Criminology