Crime Rates and Environmental Denominators

Keith D. Harries

DOI: 10.2190/04A6-1D26-HJCN-JJ5C


The basic purpose of the research discussed here is to show that the expression and analysis of crime in the form of frequency counts of population-based rates may be inappropriate in various law enforcement, criminal justice planning, and research applications. It is suggested that rates incorporating environmental denominators may provide a more satisfactory expression of crime in some circumstances. Various problems associated with the use of frequencies and population-based rates are outlined. Using robbery as a sample crime, a rationale is developed for the use of specific denominators indicative of the environments with which it is typically associated. A factor analysis of robbery rates based on various denominators suggests that several can provide information about the robbery "surface" that differs significantly from the information obtained when population is the denominator.

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