Spatial and temporal crime patterns Cluster

The members of this cluster study crime and law enforcement from a spatial and temporal perspective: where does it happen and when does it happen? The research focuses on spatial and temporal variations in crime, and explains them as a function of how potential offenders, potential victims, informal guardians and law enforcement agents make use of the places and areas in their spatial environment during daily and weekly time cycles.

Theoretical perspectives

The cluster’s research programme is strongly rooted in theories that emphasize situational causes of crime (as opposed to individual causes), including not only rational choice theory, routine activity theory, crime pattern theory, and space-time geography, but also broken windows theory and social disorganisation theory.

Research topics

The research topics vary with respect to their focus on actors (offenders, victims, bystanders/guardians, law enforcement), spatial scale (e.g., individual addresses, street segments, neighbourhoods), temporal scale (e.g., hours, days, years) and types of crime (e.g., burglary, robbery, poaching).

Data sources

Many findings are based on the analysis of geo-referenced and time-referenced police records, law enforcement registry data and databases on the locations and characteristics of businesses and other facilities. In addition, information from questionnaires, time use surveys and innovative instruments such as cameras and smartphones is used in empirical research.


Cluster members founded and lead the ESC Working Group ‘Space, place & crime’ and are prominent in the ‘Crime and Place’ Working Group and in the Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis (ECCA) network.



Cluster members

  • Wouter Steenbeek (coordinator)
  • Wim Bernasco
  • Gerben Bruinsma
  • Henk Elffers
  • Nick van Doormaal
  • Andrew Lemieux
  • Stijn Ruiter
  • Sabine van Sleeuwen


Christophe Vandeviver (Universiteit Gent)

Visiting Scholars

Guangwen Song (Sen Yat-sun University, Guangzhou, China)
Luzi Xiao (Sen Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China)

(Inter)national collaborations

Cluster members collaborate with:
VU University Amsterdam
Utrecht University
Gent University
University College London
Temple University (Philadelphia)
Griffith University (Brisbane)
Simon Fraser University (Vancouver)
George Mason University (Fairfax)

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