Tracking Kidnappings in London: Offenders, Victims and Motives

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Surtees, Keith 
Tankebe, Justice 
Bland, Matthew 

Abstract: Research Question: What was the nature of kidnappings in London during a fairly recent 5-year period in the kinds of victims, offenders, motives, types of violence used and levels of injury? Data: We analyse 924 reports of kidnap crimes recorded by the Metropolitan Police Service between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2011. These data included free text information drawn from case notes. Methods: We establish mutually exclusive categories of kidnappings by codifying all crime records, after examining case notes and populated fields from the Metropolitan Police’s crime recording system. Descriptive statistics are used to portray the patterns and nature of these crimes. Findings: The application of a typology of mutually exclusive categories for these kidnappings shows that gangland/criminal/drugs-related cases comprised 40.5% of all kidnappings. Another 21% of all kidnaps were domestic or familial, including honour killings. Just over 10% were incidental to ‘acquisitive’ crimes such as car-jacking, whilst 8% were sexually motivated. Only 6% were categorised as traditional ransom kidnappings. About 4% were categorised into a purely violent category, whilst 3% were categorised as international/political. Conclusions: The investigative and preventive implications of these many social worlds mapped out by this typology are substantial. Each social context may require investigators to possess expertise in the specific social world of kidnapping, as distinct from what might be called expertise in ‘kidnaps’ per se. Investigations and prevention might be re-engineered around targeted intelligence from these diverse social contexts.


Funder: University of Cambridge

Original Article, Kidnap, Targeting, Tracking, Evidence-based policing
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Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing
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Springer International Publishing