Reducing the harm caused by victimisation is the key motivation that drives my work.
I remember being fascinated with crime as a child. Like many teenagers growing up in the 1990s I thought I wanted to be a criminal profiler, so I pursued a BA(Hons) in Criminology and Sociology at Keele University (UK). I worked as a temp at my local police HQ (Kent Police) in university vacation periods, which enabled me to gain a good overview of many policing departments, and the business portfolios held by Chief Officers. I remember bumping into the then Chief Constable in the photocopying room, and discussing an old report I'd found of his. Little did I know at the time this was Sir David Phillips, the architect of intelligence-led policing.
After graduating I became a Police Crime Analyst, which is where my love affair with data began. I found the role highly interesting, but the constraints of the culture a little frustrating (my colleagues were suspicious of me because I read for pleasure!). I looked to advance my skills by enrolling in a new MSc. in Crime Science at UCL in 2005 after a chance meeting with Prof Ron Clarke who was promoting the newly launched 55 steps manual for crime analysis.
During my MSc my centre of gravity was disrupted. I began to think about crime in an entirely different way. Both my misspent youth and my experience as a crime analyst resonated with one of the central principles of Crime Science: that much crime is committed by opportunists. In my day job I used the SARA problem solving process to generate more insightful analytical products, and integrated knowledge about crime reduction into the recommendations I was responsible for making. In short, I became willingly indoctrinated by Crime Science.
When a job came up at the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science I jumped at the opportunity. I still to this day don't know why they gave me the job, but it changed my life in wonderous ways. In my 15 years there (it grew into the UCL Department of Security and Crime Science) I worked on a diverse portfolio of research projects. Initially these were supporting police forces and other government agencies with analytical products and lots of crime maps. I also trained a large number of practitioners and policy-makers with my colleague Dr Spencer Chainey, which meant I could keep up with what was going on at the coal face.
In recent years I have worked on several projects with the College of Policing. These have ranged from assembling the evidence base in crime reduction and police training, to generating new evidence via systematic reviews. I also worked with a team to complete a large-scale evaluation of a stalking prevention programme, which was fascinating and has crystallized a strong interest in gender-based violence.
In October 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, I began working for the New Zealand Institute for Security and Crime Science. Whilst the change to a new job is slightly terrifying in the current circumstances, I am really excited about the prospects of advancing Security and Crime Science research there, and building a new community of Crime Scientists. Watch this space!