Terms, definitions and concepts overview

  • Why terms, definitions and concepts are important
  • The limitations of those in current use in Crime Science
  • The costs of imprecision
  • The remedies

Why are terms, definitions and concepts important?

Crime prevention, security, crime reduction, crime control and community safety are terms which have been used in various times and places, to:

  • Define the scope and content of a field of practice, policy, programme funding and execution, and research
  • Define curricula for education and training
  • Shape (and be shaped by) public debate
  • Aid capture/storage/search/synthesis/retrieval in knowledge bases

Beyond the specifics of terms and definitions, it is often the underlying concepts that are badly-articulated, confused or in some cases, not thought through at all.

What are the limitations of current terms, definitions and concepts in Crime Science?

What are the costs of imprecision, and by implication the benefits of sharpening up?

  • Cross-disciplinary working between researchers, and between professionals in different fields is inhibited, and misunderstandings can jeopardise collaboration and partnership activity.
  • Communication and collaboration between speakers using different languages, or with non-native speakers, is inhibited.
  • Knowledge management – capture, synthesis, retrieval – is inefficient and error-prone; likewise education, training and guidance.
  • Use of Artificial Intelligence (e.g. in toolkits, search and analysis of data and knowledge bases, simulations through agent-based modelling) is constrained since computation requires an ontology with a complete and logically consistent suite of definitions.
  • Building logic models and defining useful indicators are inhibited, jeopardising the planning of implementation, and the undertaking of progress monitoring and process/impact evaluations.

What are the remedies?