Latest research

Crime Caught Camera: Special issue of the Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency

NSCR researchers Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard and Wim Bernasco guest-edited an issue of the Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency. The issue (February 2018, Volume 55, Issue 1) is completely is devoted to state-of-the art empirical research based on footage captured by surveillance cameras.

In their concluding essay, Lindegaard and Bernasco observe that criminologists rarely observe their actual object of study, criminal behavior. They argue that the current omnipresence of video recording devices may become a game changer for criminology as it provides an objective account of the behavior of perpetrators, victims, and bystanders. What follows is a brief summary of the contents of the articles published in the special issue.

Lasse Liebst, Marie Heinskou and Peter Ejbye-Ernst used CCTV footage of 217 cases of violence in night-time economy settings in Copenhagen. They demonstrate that when bystanders intervene, their likelihood of victimization is low, and affected by group membership, incident setting and type of intervention

Floris Mosselman, Don Weenink and Marie Lindegaard use footage of 23 shop robberies from Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to explore how perpetrators use guns and other weapons not only to underline their lethal power, but also as part of their bodily posturing aimed at achieving dominance.

Kim Møller obtained 1095 CCTV-recorded cannabis transactions from the police of Copenhagen, Denmark. He  used them to estimate the monetary value of the trade and relate it to time of the day and weather conditions.

Victoria Sytsma and Eric Piza used CCTV footage of 98 transactions in an open-air drug market in Newark, NJ, to develop a crime script of drug-selling that includes three distinct phases.

Dale Willits and Dave Makin footage of body-worn cameras provide by a police agency, to study the effects of gender race and behavioral factors on whether the police used force, on its type and its severity.

Anne Nassauer uses CCTV recordings of 20 convenience store robberies posted on online video platforms to analyze why some robberies fail. She finds that failure is most likely when robbery rituals are broken because perpetrators or victims display unexpected behaviors or emotions.

Identifying Hot Spots of Critical Forage Supply in Dryland Nomadic Pastoralist Areas: A Case Study for the Afar Region, Ethiopia

The threat of overgrazing looms large in dryland nomadic pastoralist areas and identification of areas with critical forage supply is needed to activate timely policy responses. Yet, most dryland areas are notoriously under-researched and data paucity is the rule rather than the exception. Moreover, pressure exercised on forage supply arises from simultaneous visits of herds that frequent the same location during the same period; hence commonly anecdotic evidence of individual herd movements is grossly inadequate for hot spot identification.

Our study uses the Afar Region in North East Ethiopia as a special case to addresses the above concerns and does this as follows. First, it makes a spatially explicit balance of fodder supply by combining rainfall dependent yield functions with land use maps; and informed assessment on fodder demand is based on data consistency checks of livestock statistics concerning herd size, composition and geographical distribution. The novelty in our approach is found is a migration model effectuated through a transition matrix that relates livestock levels to seasonal migration routings for all Afar sub-clans jointly. Confronting concurrent livestock migration patterns with available fodder allows to identify critical hot spots that jeopardize sustainable development of the drylands.

In general fodder supply balances with demand indicating that the current institutions favor a sustainable dryland management. Some critical areas come to the fore, especially, near fringes of Highlands and in the southern part of the Afar. A sensitivity test shows that ‘Baseline’ scenario is close to the ‘Best’ but under ‘Worst’, the Afar region would fall into despair. We conclude that the model is a useful tool to inform policy makers on critical areas in the Afar region.

Gift giving by the powerful

In the jungle economy described in Piccione and Rubinstein (The Economic Journal, 2007), agents differ in power, property rights are indefensible and coercion governs the bilateral exchange of resources. The law of the jungle rules: stronger agents lavish themselves with the economy’s resources before weaker agents can access them. In our article Pareto Efficiency in the Jungle, we analyze situations in which stronger agents can withhold goods they do not wish to consume from weaker agents. Inefficiencies arise in the economy and only voluntary gift giving by the powerful can restore efficiency. We even show that voluntary bilateral trade can be necessary to serve the common good.

The microeconomic idea of an efficient jungle has its underpinning in the political philosophy of John Locke. In his famous "Second Treatise of Government" Locke argues the no-spoilage proviso that legitimate property rights are incompatible with wasting resources. Locke's second proviso that one can only privately acquire goods from the common pool as long as "there is enough, and as good left in common for others" is, obviously, violated in the jungle.
By Harold Houba (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam); Roland Iwan Luttens (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam); Hans-Peter Weikard (Wageningen University)