Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 89–111 | Cite as

Permeability and Burglary Risk: Are Cul-de-Sacs Safer?

  • Shane D. JohnsonEmail author
  • Kate J. Bowers
Original Paper


That crime is concentrated in space is now accepted as commonplace. Explanations for why it clusters at particular locations are various reflecting the range of factors which are held to influence crime placement. In this article, we focus on the role of the permeability of the street network on the location of crime. We first review the research conducted hitherto, summarising the different approaches to analysis and the findings that have so far emerged. Then we present original analyses conducted at the street segment level to examine the issues at hand. In contrast to much of the prior research, in this study we examine the patterns for a large study area in which there is considerable variation in street network configuration. Moreover, and in contrast to all of the previous research, the approach to analysis takes into account the multi-level structure of the data analysed. The findings demonstrate that increased permeability is associated with elevated burglary risk, that burglary risk is lower on cul-de-sacs (particularly those that are sinuous in nature), and that the risk of burglary is higher on more major roads and those street segments that are connected to them. In the conclusion of the paper we outline an agenda for future research.


Crime risk Permeability Cul-de-sacs Street segments 



The authors would like to thank Merseyside police for providing the recorded crime data analysed, and Ken Pease for comments on an earlier version of the paper. We would also like to thank the three anonymous reviewers, Anthony Braga, David Weisburd, and the participants of a crime and place workshop hosted at George Mason University for their helpful comments. This work was supported by the British Home Office Design and Technology Alliance Against Crime.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Security and Crime Science, UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime ScienceUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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