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Where can offenders be found when they are not committing crimes? A cross-sectional survey of British police officers on non-crime locations

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Ariel, Barak 
Felson, Marcus 


To date, the bulk of research on place and crime has concentrated on crime scene locations and home addresses of both victims and perpetrators. Beyond these locations, less is known about where offenders can be found during regular, non-criminal activity. These ‘non-crime locations’ provide information about offenders’ lifestyles, their relationships with co-offenders, their preferred spots, and the places beyond the spatiotemporal boundaries of the crime where they may plan, manage, or deal with the aftermath of their behaviour. Yet there is a lack of systematic evidence, with the available research relying on local ethnographic designs, small samples or both, as access to such data was limited. This study utilises a novel approach by relying on the professional experience of intelligence police officers assigned to deal with serious and organised crime in the West Midlands County of the United Kingdom to determine the whereabouts of three types of non-crime locations: (a) hangout spots, (b) recruitment spots and (c) contraband hideout spots. Results suggest that offenders frequently visit gyms, specific restaurants, or private residences (not unlike locations where normative people hang out), and new members can be recruited anywhere. Drugs and firearms are strategically hidden near vulnerable persons. According to police officers, offenders are unconcerned by surveillance in these spots and choose venues not usually owned by criminal groups. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications are discussed.



Co-offending, Contraband spots, Hangout spots, Non-crime locations, Recruitment spots

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