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Violence Research Centre


Crime and Delinquency

P. Campana and F. Varese (2020), “Studying organized crime networks: data sources boundaries and the limits of structural measures”. Social Networks
Network studies of organized crime (OC) normally explore two key relational issues: the internal structure of groups and the interactions among groups. The paper first discusses in depth two data sources that have been used to address these questions -- phone wiretaps and police-generated “events”– and reviews issues of validity, reliability and sampling. Next, it discusses challenges related to OC network data in general, focusing on the ‘double boundary specification’ problem and the time span of data collection. We conclude by arguing that structural analysis cannot be divorced from a deep contextual (qualitative) knowledge of the cases. The paper refers to concrete research dilemmas and solutions faced by scholars, including ourselves.


I. Gollini, A. Caimo and P. Campana (2020), "Modelling interactions among offenders: A latent space approach for interdependent ego-networks". Social Networks
Illegal markets are notoriously difficult to study. Police data offer an increasingly exploited source of evidence. However, their secondary nature poses challenges for researchers. A key issue is that researchers often have to deal with two sets of actors: targeted and non-targeted. This work develops a latent space model for interdependent ego-networks purposely created to deal with the targeted nature of police evidence. By treating targeted offenders as egos and their contacts as alters, the model (a) leverages on the full information available and (b) mirrors the specificity of the data collection strategy. The paper then applies this approach to analyse a real-world example of illegal markets, namely the smuggling of migrants. To this end, we utilise a novel dataset of 21,555 phone conversations wiretapped by the police to study interactions among offenders.


A. Schwarzenbach, J. Tankebe & D. Oberwittler (2020). In Their Own Hands: Young People and Self-Justice Retaliation in Germany, Crime and Delinquency,
Strong and viable modern states have limited the use of private force to narrowly-defined situations of self-defense. Yet, evidence from crime surveys shows that a significant proportion of violent and property crimes is not reported to police. Instead of calling the police, people either take no action or employ a variety of mechanisms, including retaliation, to settle disputes. Drawing on data from a survey of 2,921 young people in two German cities, we investigate the propensity of adolescents to resort to self-justice retaliation. The results show widespread propensity to engage in retaliatory actions, particularly among adolescent males of low socio-economic status. Further, attitudes to the police, unsupervised routine activities, and delinquency-related variables were the most influential correlates of propensity to engage in retaliatory actions.


Lawrence Sherman, Peter Neyroud, Heather Strang, Barak Ariel, Matthew Bland, Justice Tankebe, Martin Wright, Eleanor Neyroud et al. How to Count Crime: the Cambridge Harm Index Consensus, Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing, 
Crime statistics require a radical transformation if they are to provide transparent information for the general public, as well as police operational decision-making. This statement provides a blueprint for such a transformation.

A FREE webinar presented by Professor Lawrence Sherman will cover this topic on Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 4pm GMT (11am EST, 8am PST, 3am AEDT - 18th November). Register at



Ana Paula Loch, Roberta Corradi Astolfi, Maria Alvim Leite, Cassio Henrique Gomide Papa, Marcelo Ryngelblum, Manuel Eisner, Maria Fernanda Tourinho Peres (2020). Victims, bullies and bully–victims: prevalence and association with negative health outcomes from a cross-sectional study in Sao Paulo, Brazil. International Journal of Public Health
Objectives To estimate the prevalence of self-reported bullying as victims, bullies or bully–victims among 9th grade adolescents in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil; to investigate association between bullying with negative health outcomes. Methods Cross-sectional data were obtained in 2017 from a sample of Brazilian adolescents (n = 2680) using a structured, self-administered questionnaire. Bivariate and multivariate Poisson regression were employed to assess in which extent the experience of bullying in position of victim, bully or bully-victim affects adolescents’ health. Results Prevalence of bullying victimization was 18.3%, while victimization/perpetration and perpetration corresponded to 10.42% and 4.9%, respectively. Adolescents who experienced bullying victimization were more likely to present high levels of internalizing symptoms, to report self-harm, to present negative self-rated health and to use tobacco, when compared with those not involved. Bullies were more likely to use alcohol and to binge drinking. bully–victims presented a higher prevalence of all health outcomes, except for tobacco use. Conclusions Our findings highlight the effect of bullying in adolescents’ health, regardless of the position. Planned intersectoral efforts between parents, health and education systems to prevent bullying could therefore reduce negative health outcomes during adolescence.

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