A new book released by Oxford University Press - Breaking Rules: The Social and Situational Dynamics of Young People's Urban Crime, by Per-Olof H. Wikström, Dietrich Oberwittler, Kyle Treiber, and Beth Hardie - reports on the findings of a study that followed the lives of 700 English teenagers for five years.
The study, which is hailed as providing findings that will be of major importance for crime reduction policy and policing, reveals that a mere 4 percent of teenagers were responsible for half of all youth crime in the cohort group studied.
Head of the study, Cambridge Professor Per-Olof Wikstrom, is quoted in today’s Independent on Sunday newspaper (p.6):
“The idea that opportunity makes the thief – that young people will inevitably commit crime in certain environments runs counter to our findings.”
Here, then, is important and solid empirical evidence that supports the theoretical arguments - published as a peer-to-peer article on the excellent Best Thinking website in “Opportunity Does Not Make the Thief”. In that article I present a logical case for why Crime Opportunity Theory is irrational and so cannot be a cause of crime. Moreover, I produced an earlier and identical argument, to that made by the authors of the Cambridge 700 Study, that current
USA and policing
practice and crime reduction policy, based on Crime Opportunity Theory, results
in ineffective crime reduction methods. UK
While Crime Opportunity Theorists are notorious for paying scant regard to dis-confirming evidence, hopefully, police and policy makers will now begin take notice.