B4365 - Desistance from violent and non-violent crime - exploring pathways across space and time - 04/07/2023

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Gemma Hammerton | Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol (UK)
Dr Jon Heron, Dr Rosie Cornish, Dr Alison Teyhan
Title of project: 
Desistance from violent and non-violent crime - exploring pathways across space and time
Proposal summary: 

Criminal behaviour peaks in mid- to late-adolescence,
and then declines throughout early adulthood. However, there are
individual differences in the course of criminal behaviour across this time period,
with a small proportion of young people continuing to commit crimes beyond the
peak age for criminal offending. Desistance is defined as “the process by which
criminality, or the individual risk for antisocial conduct, declines over the life course,
generally after adolescence”. Life-course theories of desistance, based on
high-income countries, suggest that ‘turning points’ (e.g., employment) may
encourage desistance from crime, whereas ‘snares’ (e.g., substance use) may
prohibit desistance. Given that nearly 90% of the world’s population live in low and
middle-income countries, and these countries (particularly in Latin America,
and Sub-Saharan Africa) have much higher rates of serious crime than high-income
countries, it is essential to establish whether the process and theories of
desistance are universal and replicable.

Impact of research: 
Overall, this project will contribute new knowledge on robust targets for global crime prevention and strategies to support desistance through triangulating findings from a range of methods making different assumptions to strengthen causal inference. The goals are to: i) shed new light on how, when, and for whom ‘turning points’ can facilitate desistance from crime, ii) identify the obstacles faced in maintaining long term desistance, who is most at risk of encountering ‘snares’, and when, iii) develop a new method to examine mechanisms with a complex, multifaceted exposure (combining latent classes and counterfactual mediation) and use this method to identify modifiable factors that enable individuals to overcome cumulative disadvantage and establish a crime free lifestyle, iv) identify key targets to guide strategies that support desistance from crime and engage in knowledge mobilisation with stakeholders (including policy makers, charities, secondary school teachers, probation officers, and intervention researchers in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa). Alongside dissemination through publishing papers, conference presentations, public engagement, and policy briefings, I plan to hold a stakeholder summit towards the end of the fellowship to disseminate the findings to the network of key stakeholders and co-produce recommendations for the development of strategies to support desistance from crime.
Date proposal received: 
Friday, 23 June, 2023
Date proposal approved: 
Friday, 23 June, 2023
Epidemiology, Addiction - e.g. alcohol, illicit drugs, smoking, gambling, etc., Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Childhood - childcare, childhood adversity, Cognition - cognitive function, Linkage, Methods - e.g. cross cohort analysis, data mining, mendelian randomisation, etc., Physical - activity, fitness, function, Statistical methods