The report of the NETIAM workshop on Mathematical Modelling of Criminality in the Urban Environment may be downloaded in pdf format by using link at the bottom of this page. The executive summary of the report is given below.
Through a series of five workshops at different venues across Europe, the European FRAMEWORK 6 project NETIAM (New and Emerging Themes in Industrial and Applied Mathematics) aims to use mathematics in the formulation of unexplored multidisciplinary challenges, to increase awareness of this role across academic disciplines and end-users, and to identify strengthening mechanisms for multidisciplinary collaboration.
In its first Thematic Workshop, held in Firenze, Italy on 7-8 June 2004, the NETIAM project explored opportunities for multidisciplinary research under the title Mathematical Modelling of Criminality in the Urban Environment. The workshop was attended by some 24 researchers from 9 countries, including social scientists, geographers, physicists and mathematicians.
There were three opening presentations on challenges in crime mapping, the geography of crime and the sociology of crime. In these presentations, the participants sought to identify the key observations that will underpin any realistic model of criminality within a closed urban community.
The immediate result was the decision to separate into two breakout sessions charged with identifying the theoretical framework within which each of the following themes could be considered quantitatively:
- Modelling acts of crime
- Modelling criminal behaviour
The outputs were
- Acts of crime
- Acts of crime are perpetrated over relatively short time and length scales, as evidenced by phenomena such as repeat victimization, burglary localization, hot spots and crime elasticity (better law enforcement in one area makes neighbouring areas vulnerable). A mathematical model must be able to predict these phenomena in terms of external forces such as weather, law enforcement and ease of access. It must be a spatio-temporal model, which may be continuous or discrete and which could draw analogies with biological predation under the action of foraging predators.
- Criminal behaviour
- Criminal behaviour depends on many urban indices such as poverty, education, ethnicity and housing, and criminals must be classified according to, say, juvenile, adult, drug-dependent etc. Hence a population dynamics model is called for similar to those that have been successful in describing homelessness and contagion in mathematical biology. The model could be continuous or agent-based, it must apply over relatively long time scales and it must be capable of being eventually incorporated into a larger social network model.
When these two themes were drawn together in the closing session, it became apparent that not only should they be developed jointly, because of the close coupling of many of the variables, but also that a control space theme should be constructed; this would model the interactive coupling with the effects of social and law enforcement policy and public opinion.
The programme of each of the NETIAM workshops is highly flexible, interactive, and responsive to emergent ideas, so distinguishing them from more traditional conference and seminar events. The Firenze workshop has provided insight into the mechanisms and challenges in stimulating ideas for novel multidisciplinary research topics and collaborations; these aspects will be addressed more fully in the subsequent capstone Plenary Workshop in March 2005.
The proceedings and output from the Firenze workshop are recorded in this report for dissemination amongst the workshop participants and the wider public and research communities. The report is intended as a resource of ideas for future multidisciplinary research activity on the topic of Criminality in the Urban Environment and related areas. It is also the first of four Thematic Workshop reports which will form the basis of the NETIAM Plenary Workshop in March 2005, in which the ideas emerging from the Thematic Workshops will be integrated into substantial themes and collaborations for novel and multidisciplinary research.