Environmental criminology focuses on criminal patterns within
particular built environments and analyzes the impacts of these
external variables on people's cognitive behavior. It forms a part of
criminology's Positivist School in that it applies the scientific
method to examine the society that causes crime.
2 Practical applications
4 See also
Environmental criminology is the study of crime, criminality, and
victimization as they relate, first, to particular places, and
secondly, to the way that individuals and organizations shape their
activities spatially, and in so doing are in turn influenced by
place-based or spatial factors.
The environmental criminology approach was developed in the 1980s by
Paul and Patricia Brantingham, putting focus of criminological study
on environmental or context factors that can influence criminal
activity. These include space (geography), time, law, offender, and
target or victim. These five components are a necessary and sufficient
condition, for without one, the other four, even together, will not
constitute a criminal incident (Brantingham & Brantingham: 1991).
Despite the obvious multi-faceted nature of crime, scholars and
practitioners often attempt to study them separately. For instance,
lawyers and political scientists focus on the legal dimension;
sociologists, psychologists and civil rights groups generally look to
the offenders and victims, while geographers concentrate upon the
location of the event. Environmental criminologists examine the place
and the time when the crime happened. They are interested in land
usage, traffic patterns and street design, and the daily activities
and movements of victims and offenders. Environmental criminologists
often use maps to look for crime patterns, for example, using metric
topology. (Verma & Lodha: 2002)
The study of the spatial patterns of crime and criminality has a long
history. In the Chicago School, Robert Ezra Park, Ernest Burgess, and
other urban sociologists developed the concentric zones model, and
considered geographic factors in study of juvenile delinquency.
Geography was also considered in law enforcement, through use of large
pin maps to show where crime incidents occurred. Mapping and analysis
of crime is now entering a new phase with the use of computerized
crime mapping systems by the police and researchers, with
environmental criminology theories playing an important part in how
crime patterns are understood. Other practical applications of
environmental criminology theory include geographic profiling, which
is premised on the idea that criminals take into account geographic
factors in deciding where to commit crimes. (Bartol and Bartol, 2006)
Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) is another
practical application, based on the idea that situational factors such
as the environment (poor lighting) can make crime more likely to occur
at a particular time and place. CPTED measures to reduce the
likelihood can include added lighting, making the place less conducive
Concentrated areas of high level of crime, known as crime hot spots,
may have situational factors that help explain why the particular
place is a problem. Could be that the place is poorly supervised, has
poor "place management", has poor lighting or other characteristics.
Changing some of those situational factors may help reduce levels of
crime in that place.
Bartol, Curt R. & Anne M. Bartol (2006). Current Perspectives in
Forensic Psychology And Criminal Justice. Sage Publications.
Brantingham, P. J. & Brantingham, P. L. (1991). Environmental
Criminology. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
Verma, Arvind & Lodha, S. K. (2002). "A Typological Representation
of the Criminal Event." Western
Criminology Review 3(2). 
List of environmental lawsuits