Professor Paul Ekblom PhD FRSA is passionate about the quality of thinking, communication and knowledge in crime prevention, security and community safety. His Crime Frameworks reflect this passion. They apply to practice, programmes and policy; and to research, theorising and evaluation within Crime Science, design and engineering.
Paul’s vision emphasises clarity of expression and communication, and the systematisation, accumulation and integration of knowledge. He sees these as necessary ingredients of good practice, innovation and adaptive problem-solving. They facilitate the generation of creative solutions to crime and security problems, which at the same time are disciplined, plausible and rigorous in terms of concepts, theory and evidence. They are as relevant to research and evaluation as they are to practical action on the ground.
Approaching knowledge in this way helps to reduce crime and its consequent harms whilst meeting broader societal requirements ranging from eco-friendliness, inclusivity, privacy, convenience, aesthetics and business needs. More particularly it supports an approach that is ‘user-friendly but abuser-unfriendly’ and encourages consideration of ‘what we want more of’ alongside ‘what we want less of’.
Paul is a strong advocate for practical address to crime problems. He believes, though, that the leading edge of research and theorising, while informed and tested by everyday practice, should not be held back or unduly shaped by practitioners’ immediate needs for working knowledge. These needs should be met by purpose-drafted guides, textbooks and toolkits set at appropriate degrees of sophistication, just as advanced medical science is communicated at different levels to inform researchers, top-level consultants, general practitioners and householders.
However, neither practice nor theory can avoid engaging with complexity. There is no point in over-simplifying the message for the sake of easy communication and teaching, because knowledge transferred in this way will be inadequate to tackle the messy nuances, trade-offs and contextual interactions of practical crime and security in the real world. Endowing practitioners with a more advanced knowledge framework will empower them to handle the vastly greater complexity out there (a restatement of Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety) – provided the knowledge is highly-relevant and well-structured for teaching, retrieval and application in adaptive ways to their own particular problems.
And oversimplification can be a false friend: supplying a set of individually simple theoretical models which variously overlap, leave gaps and use inconsistent terminology is dumping the demanding task of synthesis on to each and every practitioner.
Fuller accounts of Paul’s views on oversimplification and its adverse impacts on research, knowledge and practice are here.
Paul’s current work covers:
- Development of knowledge frameworks and ontologies for general crime prevention, community safety, problem-oriented policing, cybercrime, counterterrorism and CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design)
- Innovation, design and evaluation of secure products, places, systems and communications (including lecturing to the Security Technologies module of the BSc in Crime & Security Science at UCL)
- Evolutionary approaches to crime/security in the material world and cyberspace
- Horizon-scanning for future crime problems and security solutions (including lecturing to the Horizon-scanning module of the Masters in Crime Science at UCL)
- Crime, security and climate change
He is especially interested in technology and crime, crime scripts, and crime/ terrorism arms races, often drawing lessons from biological, cultural and technological evolution.
Paul is currently collaborating with the European Forum on Urban Security (Efus) on innovation, technology and climate change, and advising the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) on evaluation.
Paul read psychology and gained his PhD at UCL. As a researcher of long standing in the UK Home Office, he worked on diverse crime prevention action research projects, programme evaluations and policy issues; and horizon-scanning. For 10 years after that he was Professor of Design Against Crime at the University of the Arts London (UAL) based in the Design Against Crime Research Centre (now Design Against Crime Research Lab), Central Saint Martins. He now continues to collaborate as Professor Emeritus at UAL.
Paul is a Visiting Professor at the Department of Security and Crime Science, UCL, contributing to project work and lecturing at the Dawes Centre for Future Crime. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Applied Criminology and Policing Centre, University of Huddersfield, where recent work has centred on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and development of sophisticated counter-terrorism toolkits for UK and EU clients.
Paul has worked internationally with the Australian Institute of Criminology, Government of Abu Dhabi, UN and Council of Europe, the EU Crime Prevention Network, European Commission, European Forum on Urban Security, Europol and its training arm, Cepol. He is keen to maintain EU links after Brexit. In 2018 he received the Ronald V Clarke Award for Fundamental Contributions to Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis.
The material on this site has been drawn from both individual and collaborative work by Paul Ekblom whilst employed in the UK Home Office 1977-2005; University of the Arts London 2005-15; and thereafter (as Professor Emeritus) in association with the Design Against Crime Research Lab Central Saint Martins, UAL; and (as Visiting Professor) the Department of Security and Crime Science, UCL, and the Applied Criminology and Policing Centre, University of Huddersfield.
This website is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ or write to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.
I’d like to thank the many researchers and other colleagues that I’ve worked with throughout my career in the UK and abroad, for providing opportunities, stimulation, and encouragement, and in some cases directly collaborating on projects, publications and presentations. Many of my Crime Frameworks would not have materialised without ideas, or challenges, from them.
For support and encouragement in developing this website I’m particularly grateful to Prof Lorraine Gamman, Director, Design Against Crime Research Lab, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, and her team Ruth Styan and Alexandra Evans.