PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2017, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (7): 886-902.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2017.07.010

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Research progress of criminal behavior from the perspective of geography

Dongping LONG1(), Lin LIU1,2,*(), Suhong ZHOU1, Fangye DU1, Guangwen SONG1, Luzi XIAO1   

  1. 1. Center of Integrated Geographic Information Analysis, School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. Department of Geography, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0131, USA
  • Online:2017-07-31 Published:2017-07-31
  • Contact: Lin LIU;
  • Supported by:
    Key Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41531178;Research Team Program of Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, China, No.2014A030312010;National Science Fund for Excellent Young Scholars, No.41522104;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 41171140;Science and Technology Program of Guangdong Province, China, No.2015A020217003


With widening income gaps and excessive concentration of wealth, China faces serious challenges in developing comprehensive measures to maintain law and order and create a social environment with a desirable level of public safety and social stability. Geography of crime is oriented to social problems—it pays attention to the patterns, processes, and mechanisms of crime phenomenon and aims to contribute to the improvement of public safety and crime prevention. Based on the geographical perspective, this article reviews the progress of research in China and internationally on criminal behavior with regard to crime travel, offender spatial decision, and repeated crime, and makes some recommendations for future research. The review shows that the study of criminal behavior has been developed for many years and has obtained a large amount of results, but there are still some research gaps. (1) With regard to journeys to crime, previous studies have mainly considered individual characteristics of offenders, geographical features, and influencing factors such as the proceeds of crime, without considering the dynamic effects of the environmental factors. Therefore, future studies need to adopt a comprehensive perspective by taking into account the social environment, the built environment, and the ambient population (such as regional flow, commuter population, daily activities, and so on) comprehensively to examine whether a crime is affected by these factors under different spatial and temporal scenarios. (2) With regard to criminal spatial decision, international research examines separately the spatial and temporal aspects of decision making of various types of criminals. Therefore, future research in China on geography of crime should not only consider spatial factors, but also integrate the temporal aspect of crime to improve our understanding of the mechanism of the crime phenomenon. (3) The impact of past activities and experiences on sequential crimes by repeat offenders is largely overlooked. Hence, systematic analysis of repeat offenders should be strengthened. Future research should focus on, but not limited to (1) comprehensive empirical analysis of crimes; (2) research on co-offending groups; (3) the use of big data to analyze the patterns of offenders’ behavior and processes and mechanisms of crimes to provide a solid foundation for crime prediction. Meanwhile, deficiencies of big data should not be underestimated; (4) theoretical research and technological development to meet the need of social security in China, and to provide recommendations for the modernization of the governance system and governance capacity, while enhance the value of research of geography of crime.

Key words: offender, journey to crime, offender spatial decision, repeat offenders, geography of crime