One way of doing that is through Target Hardening, where you can reduce crime levels just by putting some simple obstacles in the way of easy crime targets. Most often people break into cars that are easy to steal, not particularly expensive cars; people break into houses that are not particularly well secured, not ones that are expected to have that many high value goods in. These are crimes if not of desperation, then of relative deprivation.
But in some cases you can reduce crime just through putting a few extra gateways between a potential offender and their target, and the existing doorways and windows you make more secure - all of that is quite capable of putting off many marginal offenders. Someone who really wants to get in there will still get in there somehow, but most offenders are going to wander around trying to find something that's quite easy. And if there's nothing around in the area of which they're aware - because they don't always travel that far either - then actually you just see a general reduction in crime of that type.
There's always a fear when you do hotspot policing, or you harden a particular target, that what you're going to get is displacement, and someone will just move on to another vulnerable target. And that is true to an extent, but it's never 100% displacement. You actually have a real general reduction in crime. By making it marginally harder to engage in that kind of routine criminal activity, people just stop doing it as much. They do something else instead. Hopefully eventually they realise they will be better off if they can find their way into legitimate employment.
What sort of help could security businesses provide to researchers, and vice versa?
We love data. So if there's information being recorded for the sake of insurance claims or local anonymised data about what's happening on premises, that can be really valuable.
And in return researchers can provide a synoptic grasp of how some of this stuff works, in terms of creating environments where crime is less likely to happen.
There's a kind of co-production element to social order, particularly at the street level. So if you have a nice busy high street, particularly at evening times, with people coming in and out, lots of different kinds of people of different socio-economic classes all collected together - it increases street safety.