Tackling the problem of crime in society requires knowledge and the dissemination of knowledge about what works.

The research centre focuses on strengthening three knowledge themes for more evidence-based crime prevention in the police.

  • Strategies to prevent serious violence and the recruitment of young people to crime.
  • Preventive work in local communities to reduce crime and increase safety.
  • Effective and legally secure criminal investigation with new technology.

All in all, research within these themes provides the opportunity to create a more robust national knowledge base that in the long term can contribute to a safer society and to preventing children and young people from becoming involved in crime by making the police's crime-fighting work more effective, reducing crime and increasing safety in residential areas through collaboration, and making better use of technological developments to detect crime and make criminal investigations more effective.

Strategies to prevent serious violence and the recruitment of young people into crime

This theme studies various strategies to counteract serious violence and prevent young people from becoming involved in serious crime. There are currently several ongoing and planned projects linked to this theme and, within the framework of the research centre, these can be further strengthened and developed and contribute to a more robust national knowledge base.

Strategies that have been shown to work in an American context are those based on focused deterrence. Focused deterrence is a crime prevention strategy that targets individuals and groups who are particularly active in crime and combines targeted law enforcement measures with offers of help and support to leave crime. The strategy can also include preventing young people from becoming involved in serious crime by seeking out and offering support at an early stage. Examples of strategies based on focused deterrence to reduce gang violence are the one in Malmö known as Sluta Skjut (Stop Shooting) and nationally known as Group Violence Intervention (GVI) - a strategy to reduce serious violence in criminal environments. The Swedish Agency for Medical and Social Evaluation (SBU) has just released a report emphasising that this is one of the few evidence-based methods against gang violence.

Ivert & Mellgren have followed and researched the strategy in Malmö for several years, and now that it is spreading to a number of other municipalities, there is an increased need to follow this work and conduct new analyses for an expanded and more stable national knowledge base. An initiative against partner violence (Trygg relation - fri från våld), which is based on similar principles, has also recently been launched. There are good opportunities here to build new knowledge that can be disseminated within the police and other co-operation actors, and internationally.

There is also some international research indicating that police action against organised crime can reduce the use of violence in criminal networks. In Sweden, the police in Malmö and Gothenburg have cited their success against criminal networks as a reason for the reduced number of shootings, while the police in Stockholm have claimed that their success against organised crime has resulted in more shootings. Paradoxically, both may be right, and there are opportunities here to study the effects of police raids, for example on information from encrypted chats, on gang crime.

Preventing crime and increasing safety in local communities

This theme studies how the police work together to build a better local community, often focusing on interventions common to a neighbourhood. The focus here is on volume crime and insecurity rather than (gang) violence. This may involve tackling residential burglary, vandalism or drug sales. This includes supporting initiatives such as neighbourhood watch or night-time walking, but also problem-oriented police work in collaboration with municipalities and property managers, as well as location-based police work to prevent crime. The Department of Criminology has monitored and researched such initiatives for many years.

Neighbourhood watch has a proven crime prevention effect, but it is only one of several examples of how organising residents can reduce crime by strengthening the collective ability to deal with problems in a residential area. An area with higher collective ability functions better and also tends to have lower levels of insecurity and disorder. Mellgren, Ivert and Gerell have all researched this type of relationship. The police often work in collaboration with municipalities and property managers to strengthen collective capacity and reduce insecurity and crime, not least in vulnerable areas. This work is often based on what is usually referred to as problem-oriented policing, where a problem is identified, causes are analysed and measures are put in place which are then followed up. Through regular meetings, joint situational pictures are drawn up which are the starting point for the work. Both Gerell and Ivert have been involved in this type of police collaboration, but there is potential here to further develop working methods and produce clear knowledge about what type of interventions work best, and under what circumstances they do so.

Another type of measure that is often deployed against volume crime is hot spot policing, usually by deploying foot patrol officers in places where there is a lot of crime. This is a well-established method for reducing crime in international research, but there is little research on the subject in Sweden.

Effective and fair criminal investigation with new technologies

This theme studies how police investigations can become more efficient and legally secure and how new technologies can contribute to this. Previous projects have dealt with how camera surveillance can play a role in criminal investigations, but knowledge is needed in several other areas.

Society has a far-reaching responsibility to prevent and investigate crime. Failure to do so has significant consequences for family members, but also for the security of society and thus the health and well-being of the population. In addition, detecting and preventing new crime, especially among young people, is made more difficult when a perpetrator cannot be linked to an offence.

A research project on police investigations of serious violent offences is underway at the unit for police work, focusing on what in an investigation causes a case to remain unsolved. Although this is an important area, there is a large lack of research to improve the police's investigative work and research needs to be developed.

Gerell teaches a course for new homicide investigators, where the importance of technical evidence is emphasised. The government has also announced that major investments will be made in new technology, such as automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), increased facial recognition in criminal investigations and a major expansion of camera surveillance. New technology has the potential to greatly change and streamline criminal investigation work. Here, research can play a major role in developing knowledge that ensures that the technology is used in a good way. In addition, there is also an increased use of sound sensors to identify offences. In addition to extensive research on camera surveillance, Gerell has also researched sound sensors to identify shootings in Wilmington, USA, but when this technology is on its way to Sweden, new knowledge will be needed.

Funding for the Centre

The centre is funded by a donation from Länsförsäkringar Skåne.