Martin Andresen

Crime, statistics, and crime statistics: searching for patterns with the aim of prevention

The use of statistics to study crime dates back almost 200 years to the work of Adolphe Quetelet and Andre-Michel Guerry. These two scholars, the fathers of positivist criminology, searched for patterns in criminal events and criminals considering age, gender, spatial variations, seasonal patterns, and temporal stability. Despite this long history of quantitative criminology, our statistical literacy lags behind the knowledge frontier with a sub-disciplinary history that teaches a "fear" or distrust of numbers. In this seminar, I will discuss the nature of a subset of criminological data to highlight some of the current state of criminological research. This will be followed by some examples of problems with the way in which we analyze these data, or limitations in what we analyze. I will close with a discussion of a nonparametric spatial point pattern test I developed, hoping to gain insight into its utility.