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Limitations and opportunities
This study focuses on the distribution of crime, and demographic and socio-economic factors examined in the 2001 Census. It focuses on an initial point in time, and therefore it was not possible to examine the change over time in neighbourhood crime rates and related characteristics. The opportunities for analysis were limited by the data available. In the coming years, the new version of the Incident-Based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR2.2) will provide increased access to geocoded crime data, and spatiotemporal series will begin to accumulate. The 2006 Census will also yield new demographic and socio-economic data at the census tract level. In future studies of the Island of Montréal, these data will offer opportunities to focus on the change over time and hence on the causal nature of the factors involved. Poverty on the Island of Montréal has undergone a spatial shift in the past 20 years (Heisz 2005), but what is the situation with respect to crime? Some questions merit special attention: What factors were associated with the shift in poverty from some neighbourhoods to others? What is the impact of the polarization of poverty and its persistence at the neighbourhood level? Was this shift in poverty also accompanied by changes in the composition and levels of crime? Which neighbourhoods are at risk? Understanding factors related to change over time is also important for developing crime prevention and reduction strategies and for evaluating existing programs.
The study presented the first descriptive research on travel patterns of persons charged to their victims using GIS technology on the Island of Montréal. The results revealed that the distribution of concentrations of charged persons' homes differs only slightly according to the relationship with the victim. This raises the following question: Do these concentrations mean that there is a limited number of highly active individuals who move about for crime, or do they instead reflect hot spots attributable to a large number of offenders? In future studies, light could be shed on this question through the linkage of information on persons charged from the UCR2.2 Survey. Also, future studies will have to look at the triangle consisting of victim, person charged and offence location. Some research findings suggest that it is the same individuals who are victims and offenders (Hough and Mayhew 1983; Esbensen and Huizinga 1991; Lauritsen, Sampson, and Laub 1991). According to the General Social Survey, 40% of victims were targeted more than once (Gannon and Mihorean 2005). Multiple victimization cases are closely linked to opportunities for crime, which suggests that if the circumstances of multiple victimization were better understood, prevention strategies could be developed that would have a greater impact at the level of the community. In addition, the geocoded data available for 2001 represent persons charged only, not all accused persons. It would be interesting to compare these results with the spatial distribution of persons identified in criminal incidents and not formally charged.
This study, conducted using police data, provides a specific picture. To better understand the factors related to crime distribution, it would be necessary to have access to data sets from various sources. In the coming years, it would be useful to examine, at the neighbourhood level, the information collected in victim and offender surveys, which in turn would provide a picture conducive to developing new crime prevention strategies.More research aimed at adressing the collective capacity to deploy human and social captial and to transform this into collective efficacy, would also be necessary. As the body of research grows in relation to crime mapping within the Canadian context, it would be interesting to examine the mechanism at play in neighbourhoods representing numerious risk factors without high crime rates. This would contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of collective efficacy.