My current research projects all come under the heritage crime umbrella.
When we think of ghost towns, we often think about the immediate aftermath of the boom and bust – what drove people to abandon a town or city. I’m interested in the more recent history – why have some ghost towns been preserved, whilst others have deteriorated? How does tourism influence these towns for good or ill? Does urban exploration benefit these sites? What items and infrastructure are stolen from ghost towns? I’m particularly interested in the reasons why stolen items are later returned to some sites, and the role that ‘bad luck’ legends play in this.
Heritage crime takes many forms, some tangible and others less so. For this piece of research I’m looking at whether we can use technology to act as an early warning system of physical damage to heritage assets. I’m using existing data to start with, and hoping to roll it out to live crowdsourcing at a later date (subject to funding!).
Following a pilot project with my friend and colleague Dr Suzie Thomas at the University of Helsinki (we do a lot of work together!) on the security problems faced by museums, we’ve recognised the need for much more work in this area. We’re putting together a bid for a full size study on museum security at the moment. Watch this space…
I worked with Suzie again on a really important book Heritage Crime: Progress, Prospects and Prevention which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. With contributions from around the world, the book explores the problem of heritage crime across a range of contexts. We had a fancy book launch in London with lots of wonderful people and organisations in attendance, and we’re hoping that it acts as a catalyst for more heritage crime work.
In 2011-12 I worked with Newcastle University and the Council for British Archaeology on an English Heritage (now Historic England) funded project to examine the nature and extent of heritage crime in England. This received significant media coverage, and the final report is available here. I’ve continued to work with Historic England ever since – they’re a passionate bunch of people and have got some really strong ideas about how to tackle heritage crime.
I was CI on the project ‘Which burglary security devices work for whom and in what context?’ which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council under the Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (ES/K003771/1) from 2013-15, using victim data from the Crime Survey of England and Wales. Some key findings are here and here.
My earliest research focused on repeat victimisation, culminating in a systematic review commissioned by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention and available here.
You can see my Google Scholar profile here.