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The ESRC Priority Network: Social Contexts of Pathways in Crime (SCoPiC), a four site UK research consortium, was inaugurated on the 1st of October 2002 and continued under ESRC funding until the 31st of December 2007. Its main objectives have been:

  • to achieve a better understanding of how the interaction between individual characteristics and behavioural contexts leads to change and stability in offending across time (pathways into and out of crime)
  • to promote multidisciplinary research into the causes of crime
  • to assist in the development of improved public policies to reduce offending and enhance individuals' life chances, particularly in disadvantaged urban areas.

To achieve these objectives, the Network has cultivated new research, analysed and advocated different approaches to policy and prevention, developed working groups to advance theory and research methods, and disseminated knowledge through conferences, workships, publications, etc.

To cultivate new research, the SCoPiC Network has overseen four research projects at four leading UK universities: the University of Cambridge, King's College London, the University of Sheffield and the University of Huddersfield. The London, Cambridge and Sheffield sites hosted studies which examined one of three critical epochs in behavioural development (childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, respectively) while the Huddersfield site analysed current approaches to policy and prevention and explored effective methods for translating empirical research into sound guidance for policy makers and practitioners. To learn more about these research sites visit the Studies section of our website

The Network has also actively assembled several working groups to deal with aspects of theory development and methodology. These working groups included investigators from SCoPiC research sites as well as collaborators from around the UK and the world. The Network has also established collaborative links with a number of UK national and international studies which have allowed leading longitudinal researchers to share methodological advancements and compare cross-cultural differences. These links will survive beyond the tenure of the Network and continue to facilitate communication and cooperation between academics in this specialized and influential field of research. To learn more about these collaborations visit the Collaborative Studies section of our website.

Finally, the Network's main activities have involved the dissemination of knowledge, namely through four annual conferences; a number of workshops involving SCoPiC and collaborative researchers, policy makers and practitioners; and an expanding set of publications. To learn more about SCoPiC activities and publications visit the Highlights and Conferences sections of our website.

Overall, the Network has achieved its objectives and has developed lasting interelations between UK national and international research groups which will continue to further its aims and benefit the study, and explanation, of stability and change in offending over the life course.

‘Too often different approaches – the study of social factors and individual characteristics, for instance – have been dealt with separately in research, and this problem has been reflected in crime prevention initiatives with similar limitations. We need a more integrated approach, understanding how different factors interact and how these interactions vary in different times and places.’

Network Director, Per-Olof Wikström