About Us

About Us

The Department of Security and Crime Science has its origins in the Jill Dando Institute (JDI). Jill Dando was a British television journalist who co-hosted the programme Crime Watch. In 1999 she was murdered, and her co-presenter of Crime Watch, Nick Ross, launched a public appeal to set up an institute devoted to crime prevention. The institute bearing her name was established at UCL in 2001 under the Directorship of Professor Gloria Laycock. 

Click here to view Professor Laycock's inaugural lecture, delivered on 26 April 2001: “Scientists or politicians – who has the answer to crime?”

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 still exists as a research institute that spans UCL, drawing expertise from many other university departments with an interest in security and crime reduction.

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.

Page last modified on 04 nov 10 14:00