My Life in Crime - Public Lecture

4 Apr 2023 5:45 PM

About this lecture: 

Hamilton Professorial Lectures return for 2023 with Professor Richard Wortley at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, 5.45pm Tuesday 4 April.

"My entire professional career has been in the crime field, first as a prison psychologist, then as a researcher and lecturer. My passion is crime prevention – how can we stop crime before it happens? In this presentation, I want to share some of the experiences over the years that have shaped my approach to crime prevention, and some of the research projects in crime prevention with which I have been involved. I want to talk particularly about the prevention of child sexual abuse, both contact offending, and online offending.

The approach to prevention that I take is called situational crime prevention. Situational crime prevention represents a shift in focus from the historical causes of criminality to the immediate causes of crime; from the offender to the offence. The usual question in psychology and criminology about what causes crime is: why did this person grow up to be criminal? What are the biological, developmental and sociological factors that account for their deviance? In situational crime prevention a different question is asked, namely: why did this person commit this crime at this particular time and place? What factors in the immediate environment account for their behaviour? Once we know some of the key situational factors that encourage or enable crime, we can work out ways to change those factors to make crime less likely to happen.

It is sometimes assumed that situational crime prevention might be OK for ‘traditional’ crimes like burglary and robbery, where offenders are making considered choices to commit crime, but is not appropriate for violent and sex crimes, which are seen to be the result of emotional arousal and psychological disorder. My and colleagues’ research on child sexual abuse challenges this assumption. I discuss some of our research that shows that situational factors play a crucial role in child sex offending and that potential offenders can be deterred by changing the situational dynamics that facilitates their behaviour."

Please register to attend.