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Crime is an act of breaching one or several rules of laws (formal conventions) by which not only an individual, but also the community or the state is harmed. Such acts are forbidden and and punishable by law because some governing authority (via mechanisms such as legal systems) can ultimately prescribe a conviction.[1]

Conditions for crime taking place

In brief, a criminal event happens when a predisposed, motivated and resourceful offender encounters, or engineers, a conducive crime situation. The situation in turn comprises a suitable target in a favourable environment, in the absence of factors (e.g. people) preventing the crime and the presence of factors supportive of it. This has been called the Conjunction of Criminal Opportunity[2][3]

Crime categorisation

Crime can take many forms. In order to have a clear understanding of what constitutes crime, a clear and uniform terminology, and hence a categorisation would be required. At the moment, there does not exist an uniform and widely accepted categorisation of crimes. Rather, this categorisation is done whenever and wherever required. Some existing well-known categorisations of crime include:

Legal categorisation

The following classes of offences are used, or have been used, as legal terms of art:

  • Offence against the person[4]
  • Violent offence[5]
  • Sexual offence[5]
  • Offence against property[4]

EU categorisation

There is no uniform European categorisation of crime. Each country uses its own system to classify and record crime at a very generic level. The collected statistics are reported to a central European database yearly , called eurostat[6]. The crimes in this database encompass the following six categories:

US categorisation

The US statics, recorded by the FBI's subdivision Criminal Justice Information Services, categorises crime with a higher degree of specificity[13], but at the highest level of subdivision only

  • Violent crime and
  • Property crime

are discriminated.

UK categorisation

The UK crime statistics, recorded in the annual report 'Crime in England and Wales'[14], uses yet another categorisation of crimes, the highest subdivision of which is:

  • Property crime
  • Drug offences
  • Other miscellaneous offences

Categorisation by motive

A classification that is developed[15] for use in the urban environment that the types of crime most relevant to urban design, is based on the motivation of perpetrators:

ThievesVandalsRiotersFanaticsBurglarsRobbersExtortionistsFraudsProperty vandalsPerson vandalsProtesterHooligansReligious fanaticEthnic fanaticsCultural fanatics
Classification of crimetypes

The first category of criminals (thieves) is motivated by financial gain. They can be subdivided into:

  • Burglars, who gain wealth by illicitly entering buildings,
  • Robbers, who gain wealth by force of threat.
  • Extortionists, who gain wealth by use of coercion and
  • Frauds, who gain wealth by intentional deception

The second category of criminal (vandals) is motivated by amusement (such as bored youth bothering passers-by) or by compulsive behaviour (such as pyromaniacs). They can be sub divided into:

The third category (rioters) is motivated by impulse, often under group pressure, often in a situation with a high level of excitement or arousal. Two subtypes of rioters are:

The fourth and last category is motivated by conflict in beliefs (fanatics) and tries to impose rules or beliefs upon others by use of coercion. The level of coercion can vary a great deal, ranging from mental abuse to mass killing. DIT IS EEN VORM VAN TERRORISME DUS HIER NAAR LINKEN EN DIT UITLEGGEN> Mogelijk is er een 5de categorie terroristen, naast fanatics. Hoe gaan we hier mee om? Subtypes of fanatics are:

  • Religious fanatics, who try to impose religious beliefs or religious rules
  • Ethnic fanatics, who coerce specific ethnic groups and
  • Cultural fanatics, who try to impose cultural beliefs (for example about animal welfare in the fur industry, globalism or conservationism) upon others.
Taxonomy of crime types used in the Securipedia; 'security issues'

None of these categorisations know an EU wide base of use (at least not among parties the urban planner would be involved with). This is why two categorisation of crime were developed: The categorisation for use at the conceptual level, and a categorisation for use at the plan level. The categorisation of crime at the conceptual level is developed from the above mentioned categorisation by motive. The constituent crimes are called Security issues and are categorized to the prime concern to the urban planners in a conceptual stage. The categorisation of crime at the plan level conforms with the arrangement of a dataset of recorded crimes of the police force area of West Yorkshire Police, which is used as a basis for the calculation of empirical risk.

Frequency of crime

Crimetype statistics in the EU
Crimetype statistics in England and Wales 2010-2011

An indication of the relative size of crime types recorded in the eurostat database and their development through the years is given in the figure to the right.[16]. In this figure, we can discern the large differences in rate of occurance between faily commonplace crimes, like vehicle theft or violence and more extreme crimes, like homocide.

As an illustration of the variability in the way and level of detail crimes are recorded in the various member states, the crime statistics of England and Wales of the year 2010-2011[17] are presented in the figure to the right.

Footnotes and references

  1. from: wikipedia
  2. [Secured by design - Safer Places]
  3. Ekblom, The conjunction of criminal opportunity,
  4. 4.0 4.1 For example, by the Visiting Forces Act 1952
  5. 5.0 5.1 For example, by section 31(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, and by the Criminal Justice Act 2003
  7. Definition: This is defined as intentional killing of a person, including murder, manslaughter, euthanasia and infanticide. Causing death by dangerous driving is excluded, as are abortion and help with suicide. Attempted (uncompleted) homicide is also excluded. The counting unit for homicide is normally the victim (rather than the case).
  8. This includes violence against the person (such as physical assault), robbery (stealing by force or by threat of force), and sexual offences (including rape and sexual assault).
  9. Robbery is a sub-set of violent crime. It is defined as stealing from a person with force or threat of force, including muggings (bag-snatching) and theft with violence. Pick-pocketing, extortion and blackmailing are generally not included.
  10. Domestic burglary is defined as gaining access to a dwelling by the use of force to steal goods.
  11. Motor vehicles include all land vehicles with an engine that run on the road which are used to carry people (including cars, motor cycles, buses, lorries, construction and agricultural vehicles, etc.).
  12. Definition:This is defined as the illegal possession, cultivation, production, supplying, transportation, importing, exporting, financing etc. of drug operations which are not solely in connection with personal use.
  15. Developed in the Secure haven project (in Dutch) and adapted for use in the Securban tool component and this wiki.
  16. Derived from Eurostat crime statistics database "Crim_gen"