Inequality and crime

Adam’s research around inequality and crime falls into two separate strands: first, the impact of geographical socio-economic inequalities on crime outcomes and, second, the analysis of spatial inequalities in crime outcomes.

Geographical inequality and crime outcomes

One strand of analysis uses multivariate multilevel statistical modelling to seek to isolate the independent effect of spatial economic inequality on the prevalence of crime outcomes. In contrast to much of the existing literature, a particular interest is to examine the theoretically and intuitively plausible notion that local (rather than regional or national) inequality matters in terms of driving crime outcomes. In this vein analyses across local authorities in England find consistent statistical evidence for a positive link between increased inequality and increased crime across five separate crime types, even after controlling for a host of other factors. Further analyses in London and South Yorkshire drill down to the neighbourhood level and explore the relevance of a range of separately sized local inequality measures on neighbourhood crime levels. These analyses find that local inequality can matter, but only in certain socio-spatial local contexts. Further research plans to extend these analyses to national scale in order to explore in greater detail which socio-spatial contexts both enable and mitigate these apparent linkages between local inequality and crime.

Inequality & crime: 1

Inequalities in crime outcomes: distributions, concentrations and persistence

A second research strand focuses instead on the mapping and spatial statistical analysis of crime outcomes. As part of this interest Adam has used regression-based small area estimation techniques to calculate fear of crime estimates down to small area level (MSOA level) for the whole of England. This work has continued into his running of an ESRC National Centre for Research Methods network into small area estimation techniques incorporating spatial microsimulation, statistical and agent based across academic colleagues and the Office for National Statistics and Teagasc. Alongside Alasdair Rae in Town & Regional Planning, a separate research strand uses publicly available geocoded crime data to analyse spatial distributions, concentrations and persistence of key crime types across England for the first time.

Inequality & crime: 2

Related publications

  • Whitworth, A. (2012, in press). Local Inequality and Crime: Exploring how Variation in the Scale of Inequality Measures Affects Relationships between Inequality and Crime. Urban Studies.
  • Whitworth, A. (2012). Inequality and crime across England: a multilevel modelling approach. Social Policy and Society, 11(1)
  • Whitworth, A. (2012). Sustaining evidence-based policing in an era of cuts: estimating fear of crime at small area level in England. Crime Prevention and Community Safety, 14(1)
  • Whitworth, A. (2012). Too big and too slippery to tackle? Public Servant magazine for the civil service
    Online version