In Cohen and Felson's (1979) routine activities theory, the presence of a capable guardian serves as the key component in the crime event model, one that can disrupt, either directly or indirectly, the interaction between a motivated offender and a suitable target. Unlike the other components of the theory much less is known about the nature of capable guardianship. This article reports the results of a test of the Guardianship in Action instrument, first developed by Reynald (2009), for measuring guardianship potential at residential properties. It was found that guardianship intensity at the property level can be measured via direct observation, and the measurement of guardianship intensity is enhanced by including measures of the physical and social environment that can enable or hinder guardianship activities. The article lends further support to the thesis that residential guardianship combines physical potential for guardianship as well as acts of monitoring and intervention. The implications for theory, research and practice are discussed.
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Only residential addresses were included in the sample. This was done using a selection variable for each street segment that identified it as (1) residential only, (2) industrial only, (3) government only, (4) commercial only, (5) mixed land use, and so on. This information was obtained from city planning files available for the city. Only those street segments that were identified as ‘residential only’ or ‘mixed land use’ were used when drawing the sample.
A Spearman's coefficient was used due to the ordinal level of measurement of the variables included.
More information on the diagnostics run and distribution of the dependent variable is available from the authors.
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We are extremely grateful to the editor Bonnie Fisher and the anonymous reviewers for insightful comments.
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Hollis-Peel, M., Welsh, B. What makes a guardian capable? A test of guardianship in action. Secur J 27, 320–337 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1057/sj.2012.32
- routine activities theory
- residential property
- social observation
- crime prevention