Government, energy & environment

Hot and bothered

Does temperature influence criminal behaviour? Some crime forecasters certainly think so, which gives rise to the intriguing possibility of forecasting future crime waves by looking at long-range weather forecasts. But is this just another example of a culture in which nothing is ever our fault? Alternatively, perhaps the reason there’s more crime during hot spells is simply because more people are out on the streets or even that more people are more likely to be on holiday (thus their houses are empty as a result). There are plenty of examples and case studies to support the notion that hot (and in particular humid) weather produces grumpy and criminally-inclined people, but anecdotally, the opposite also seems to be true. If the sky is blue and the sun is out people tend to be happy. Moreover, crime rates in hot countries are no higher per capita than cold countries although revolutions do seem to occurr more frequently in hot places.  Perhaps the idea of linking weather forecasting to crime forecasting will take off and we'll get crime forecasts alongside the weather on TV each evening.
Ref: Sun-Herald (Aus) 29 January 2005, ‘Criminally hot’, O.Thomson.
Links: crime, crime trends, weather, forecasting

The future of crime

The times they are a-changing. A recent Australian (New South Wales) survey has revealed that people are almost as worried by Internet scams and identity theft as they are by more traditional crimes such as mugging, car theft or burglary. In 2001-02 the most feared crime was burglary followed by car theft and physical assault. The top three in 2004-05 were burglary followed by fraud/credit card theft and car theft. Interestingly, the percentage of people that had contact with police but were unsatisfied with the ‘experience’ increased from 13% to 18%. On a related note, I recently heard of a car that was broken into and an expensive radio and a large collection of CDs were untouched. Presumably the thief was looking for an iPod.
Ref: Sydney Morning Herald (Aus) 4 January 2006, ‘ Fear of crime moves with the times’, G. Jacobsen.
Links: crime, worry, anxiety, fear