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Offender Residential Concentrations: A Longitudinal Study in Birmingham, England

Langton, Samuel Hugh (2019) Offender Residential Concentrations: A Longitudinal Study in Birmingham, England. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The overarching aim of this thesis is to advance understanding into the geographic distribution of offender residences, that is, where known offenders live. Although this strand of research emerged amidst the earliest studies in spatial criminology, contemporary research has since favoured the examination of offences, much at the expense of offender residences. This shift has occurred despite there being strong theoretical and empirical reasons for studying both. To revive interest into offender residences, and achieve the aim of this thesis, three key themes are identified through a comprehensive review of existing literature, relating to spatial scale, longitudinal stability and explanation. From these, three research questions are posed, the answers to which constitute the original contribution of this thesis. Firstly, what is the most appropriate spatial scale to study offender residential concentrations? Secondly, to what extent do offender residential concentrations demonstrate stability over time? Thirdly, how can we explain the longitudinal (in)stability of offender residential concentrations? To answer these research questions, analysis is conducted on longitudinal police recorded data of known offender residences in Birmingham between 2007 and 2016, supplied by West Midlands Police Force, and census data under Open Government Licence. The methods deployed are largely inspired by the (considerably more advanced) offence strand of research, and include descriptive statistics, extensive (spatial) visualisations, multilevel variance partitions, novel longitudinal clustering techniques and spatially lagged multivariable regression models. Findings suggest that small (‘micro’) spatial scales are most suitable for studying the geography of offender residences. The degree to which concentrations demonstrate longitudinal (in)stability varies by the methods deployed, but findings suggest a reasonable degree of volatility over time, some of which is due to the individuallevel residential mobility of offenders. Longitudinal trends can be explained by a number of demographic characteristics, including deprivation, ethnic diversity and housing tenure. Discussions emerge from these findings which have implications for methodology, theory and policy, opening prospect to generate avenues for future research.

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