Crime science is a study of criminal activity that focuses on reducing levels of crime. This distinguishes it from criminology, which studies crime evidence to determine how, when, and by whom a crime was committed. The practice of crime science, despite its name, is not always a solely scientific pursuit and many involve a blend of methods and sources. Crime science is still a very new area of study and profession, and remains a far smaller field than traditional criminology.
The factors involved in reducing crime resemble a many-headed hydra. Economic issues, politics, accessibility, psychology, and opportunity are all factors that can lead people to crime. Crime science tends to focus on measuring and obtaining data about all the possible reasons and ways crime is committed, then working out means of reducing crime through the systematic targeting of each issue.
One of the main principles of crime science is that crime is often preventable. If all crimes were committed by inherently violent psychopaths, it would be extremely difficult to find means of stopping crime, short of locking all potential psychopaths up. In fact most crime is committed by regular people motivated by unusual circumstances. By focusing on changing the circumstances, crime scientists attempt to prevent crime from having the opportunity to occur.
There are now several universities and institutes that offer degrees or courses in crime study. The science is more widely known in the United Kingdom, where the first crime science institute, the University of Central London Jill Dando Institutes was established in 2001. Several other UK-based colleges and institutes now offer degree and certification programs that specialize in the field.
Crime scientists often work as risk management or security analysts. One of the major factors in eliminating the potential for crime is eliminating the risk for crime through well-managed, comprehensive security systems. In addition to working with businesses to devise full security management programs, crime scientists may also be involved in the development of tools and products that improve security capabilities.
Another major pursuit of workers in this field is the production of crime maps. These maps show patterns of crime by type and date and may be useful to both law enforcement and the general public. Crime scientists may also work on mapping analysis, or finding the reasons behind a pattern of high crime in an area and working on solutions that will help reduce the problem.