A piece of research based on Sheffield and North Yorkshire shows up the modern travelling criminal as a myth.
It?s taken for granted that criminals are travelling further thanks to the motor car, and marauding crims are hitting edge of city and rural commercial and home premises. A piece of research based on Sheffield and North Yorkshire shows up the modern travelling criminal as a myth. The message for private security managers is that it pays to keep criminals the other side of the perimeter, because areas they are not familiar with, many don?t travel to. Also, burglars of your site may be living or at least with a friend or girlfriend or place where they buy drugs quite nearby – so it might pay to laern about those places. Paul Wiles and Andrew Costello found: ?the vast majority of offender movements are relatively short; much travel associated with crime is not primarily driven by plans to offend but appears to be much more dependent upon opportunities presenting themselves during normal routines; when offenders do travel to offend it is overwhelmingly local in nature; and even when longer-range travel is involved in offending elsewhere this is mainly in places which have strong traditional connections with the offender?s home location. There was little evidence that offenders? travelling to offend was significantly increasing compared with the past or that new travel opportunities were changing traditional travel patterns used by offenders.? The authors with criminology backgrounds – Paul Wiles has become Director of the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate, which has brought out the research – found that police data and interviews with convicted burglars and car thieves in Sheffield bore out the fact that travel distances to crime have gone up, but only slightly, since 1966. In 1995, the average travelling distance in Sheffield for all offences was 1.93 miles; for shoplifting, 2.51 miles, and for TWOC (taking car without owner?s consent) 2.36 miles. Older offenders tend to travel further than younger offenders. If criminals have come from outside Sheffield, it?s from neighbouring Rotherham or North-East Derbyshire; for example, 56 per cent of all non-Sheffielders convicted of shoplifting at the edge of Sheffield shopping centre Meadowhall were from Rotherham. Roughly the same figures and findings came from a study of North Yorkshire, including rural Hambleton.
What offenders say
When dozens of Sheffield offenders were interviewed, they all knew the city centre. If they avoided areas, it was because they knew nothing about them, or because they were in fear of individuals (usually in the drug trade) or because they were known to local police. If burglars did offend far away, often it was somewhere like Skegness, on holiday – they didn?t travel mainly to offend, but the opportunity was too good to resist. The motivation for crime – and the authors only looked into burglars and car thieves – had a bearing on the small distances most criminals travelled. For burglars, the main motivation was the need for money – ?primarily for drugs?; and for car thieves, more for fun. If burglars were travelling away from home, it was also not very far from what the authros call ?anchor points?, a friend or girlfriend?s home, say, or where they go to buy drugs. Goods stolen are often exchanged for drugs. These findings reflect a general social trend, that poorer people travel less than the rich, and persistent offenders travel less. For details of this 68-page research paper, and others, see www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/index.htm. Or ring 020 7273 2084 or e-mail email@example.com.