Applying the small area estimation techniques to criminological data: methodological foundations and applications

David Buil-Gil and Juanjo Medina will discuss their research in light of recent trends in criminological research to examine small geographical areas, or 'micro-places'.


Criminological research is moving towards the study of small geographical areas, or micro places, to examine the nature and causes of crime and the attitudes towards crime. The criminology of place draws from the empirical observation that crime is concentrated at micro geographical units, which shows the need for the study of small areas in criminology. Moreover, hot spots policing interventions, which target micro places with high levels of crime and disorder, have shown to be successful in reducing crime and antisocial behaviour. Fear of crime and perceived disorder are also concentrated at micro places. Police-recorded offences and crime calls are relatively easy to geocode and map, and geographical and inferential analyses can be drawn from crime maps with a high level of spatial accuracy. However, more advanced statistical methods are needed to reliably map the unreported victimisation, as well as crime perceptions and attitudes towards the criminal justice system. Victimisation surveys, which are the main source of data used in criminology to analyse unreported crime and crime perceptions, are usually designed to be only representative of large geographies, such as cities, counties or regions. Nevertheless, small areas usually suffer from small and zero sample sizes, which do not allow producing direct estimates of adequate precision. In this paper we suggest the application of model-based small area estimation techniques as a potential tool to overcome such limitations and produce reliable estimates of survey-recorded victimisation, crime perceptions and associated criminological constructs at a small area level. Small area estimation techniques seek to produce precise and reliable estimates for unplanned domains where small and zero sample sizes do not allow producing direct estimates of adequate precision. We will introduce the main small area estimation techniques and present some applications to variables of criminological interest.

About the speakers

David Buil Gil holds a Bachelor in Criminology from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a Master's Degree in Crime Analysis and Prevention from the Universidad Miguel Hernández of Elche. He is currently undertaking a doctoral thesis at the University of Manchester funded by the Presidential Doctoral Scholar Award of this University. His PhD research is based on the application of small area estimation techniques for the spatial study of emotions and attitudes towards crime at the low area level. He is also Teaching Assistant at University of Manchester an associate researcher at the Crimina Research Center at Miguel Hernandez University. In 2014, he received one of the JAEIntro fellowships of the Spanish National Council of Scientific Research (CSIC), a scholarship he dedicated to research into fear of crime among the immigrant population of the city of Barcelona. This work was awarded by the Archimedes Contest from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, as well as the 2016 Student Award from the Spanish Society for Criminological Research (SEIC). In 2016 he developed a research project on the spatial distribution of fear of crime in Elche, based on the mobile application InseguridApp, a work subsequently awarded by the Crimina Research Center.

Juanjo Medina: I received my BA in Public Law and a Postgraduate Degree in Criminology from the University of Seville (Spain). In 1997 I graduated with an MA in Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. I obtained my first PhD from the Department of Criminal Law at the University of Seville in February of 2000 and a second (long story!) PhD in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University in January of 2002. Both thesis focused on gender violence. My Spanish dissertation was the first survey on intimate partner violence in Spain and my US-based dissertation, relying on GIS and spatial econometric tools, explored the social geography of gender violence in New York City. I was born in Sevila (Spain), the most beautiful city in the world, where I worked as a research fellow of the Andalusian Institute of Criminology, before moving to the USA. I lived and worked in New York working as a research associate at Victim Services (now called Safe Horizon), where I was involved on elder abuse research, and as senior research associate at the Violence Institute of New Jersey (UMDNJ,now part of Rutgers), where I helped to implement public health epidemiological surveillance on violence. I was also a research fellow of the National Consortium on Violence Research (now defunct), as well as a visiting fellow at the Universidade Federal da Bahia (Brazil) and Heuni (Finland).  With all this travelling, it is little surprise I have a strong interest in comparative criminology and criminal justice. I retain an interest in crime and justice in Spain and the Americas. In particular, I am member of a research network based in Catalonya that studies crime and sentencing policy in Spain. I was also the Chief Editor of the official journal of the Spanish Society of Criminology from 2003 to 2005 and continue to collaborate with this journal as an assistant editor. In June 2016 I was elected president of the Spanish Society of Criminology. Since 2000, however, Manchester is home. My work in the UK has covered domestic violence, homicide, stop and search, and gangs. For ongoing work, you can see details in the research tab of this profile.


Please register here for David and Juanjo's seminar.

Location details

Seminar Room G.28,
School of Law
Liberty Building
University of Leeds

For sat navs, please use the postcode for Moorland Road, LS6 1AN. 

The Liberty Building can also be found on the campus map

All welcome. This is a free event, though registration is required.

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