Predicting Crime: The review of Research
Based on the preceding analysis, the following recommendations for future crime research and forecasting in Canada are made:
- A dedicated funding stream should be provided for an integrated research program that examines and maps crime trends, forecasts future crime rates and patterns, and estimates the impact of crime (i.e., costs) for both the present and the future.
- The Federal Government should convene a multi-sectoral working group to coordinate and/or undertake this research. The mandate of this group should be to (a) promote, conduct, and/or coordinate systematic research that anticipates the nature and scope of crime and its impact on Canadian society over the next 20 to 30 years; and (b) develop policy and program recommendations to be implemented in the present and future to minimize the impact of future crime trends on Canadian society. This group should also promote ongoing research programs to encourage “horizon scanning” to identify and prepare for future crime trends and threats.
- This working group should be multi-sectoral, including representatives from governmental, academic, and private organizations. Criminal justice agencies (e.g., Justice, Solicitor General, and the RCMP) as well as Statistics Canada should assume the lead on this committee. Representatives from Statistics Canada should be drawn from CCJS as well as other relevant disciplines (e.g., economics, demographics). The participating academic and consulting community should be multidisciplinary and include criminologists (with different areas of specialization, such as youth, violence, property crime, economic crime, organized crime, etc.), economists, and econometricians. Participants from the private sector should include those from such industries as computers, telecommunications industry and the Internet industry in particular (e.g., the Canadian Association of Internet Providers), insurance, and private security, and forensic accounting.
- The Federal Government, in consultation with or through this working group, should enact mechanisms to continually assess the wider impact of new technology on crime and the criminal justice system. This should include a program that would address crime at all stages of a product's life cycle, and involve working with manufacturers, retailers, and customers in developing secure products. This research should lead to concrete measures to minimize the use of new technology for criminal purposes. These initiatives should also be promoted at the international level, given that much of the new technology introduced into Canada originates from abroad.
- Funding should be provided to focus scientific and technological attention towards crime reduction, especially in regards to telecommunications-based crime.
- These initiatives must be placed in the context of an increased emphasis on incorporating crime reduction into the mainstream of public policy and private sector decision-making.
One of the lessons from this research is that greater emphasis should be placed on anticipating and responding to future crime cycles. In turn, this will require the development and implementation of more rigorous and integrated research methods that can predict more accurately the scope, and as importantly, the nature of future crime cycles. Crime trend analysis and statistical modelling should be combined with qualitative research that identifies new targets for criminal activity as well as how criminality will evolve and impact society.
While the accuracy of crime predictions and impact assessments will always be scrutinized, research in this area can be useful for (criminal justice) policy and programs. Future crime trends and their impact on Canadian society should be anticipated in order to develop policies and programs that anticipate and minimize those crime trends that will have the greatest negative impact on society. In short, the utility of this integrated research program is to predict alternative scenarios of future crime patterns and trends, as well as those factors that drive crime, so that they can be addressed in the present, subsequently minimizing their future impact.
Below is a graphical depiction of a conceptual framework for a comprehensive, integrated, and systematic policy research program that would develop forward-thinking policies and programs aimed at minimizing the future scope and impact of crime.
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