Short-Term Temporal Clustering of Police-Reported Violent Offending and Victimization

Published date01 September 2018
Date01 September 2018
Subject MatterArticles
Short-Term Temporal
Clustering of Police-Reported
Violent Offending and
Victimization: Examining
Timing and the Role of Revenge
Mikko Aaltonen
, Janne Kivivuori
, and Laura Kuitunen
Objectives: To examine short-term associations between offending and victimization using daily data
on criminal offenses. We also examine the within-individual association between several types of
offenses and victimization and see whether incidents closer together in time are more likely
reflect revenge motives. Method: We use total data on all victims (n¼88,106) and offenders
(n¼60,584) in police-reported assaults in Finland during 2007–2009 to examine temporal clustering
of the two outcomes. Monthly panel data (n¼4,886) on offending and victimization are analyzed
with fixed-effects regression models, while revenge motives are derived from detailed case
descriptions (n¼299). Results: The risk of violent victimization is higher in months following criminal
offending. Although the offending rates directly before and after victimization are low on absolute
terms, we find that these rates are higher around the time of victimization. Violent offenses closerto
victimization incidents are more likely to include the same parties in opposite roles. Conclusions:
Criminal offending increases the risk of victimization in a state-dependent matter. Closer analysis of
situational and motivational dynamics of victimization and offending requires temporally detailed
data, as a substantial share of the victim–offender overlap is explained by incidents that take place on
the same day, complicating the analysis of the temporal sequence of those events.
victim–offender overlap, state dependence, revenge, police records
One of the most consistent empirical regularities in the study of violent victimization is that indi-
viduals with criminal backgrounds have an elevated risk of being victims themselves (Averdijk &
Bernasco, 2015; Jennings, Piquero, & Reingle, 2012). To an important extent, this overlap is likely
Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Corresponding Author:
Mikko Aaltonen, Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, University of Helsinki, PO Box 24 (Unioninkatu 40), 00014
University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
Criminal Justice Review
2018, Vol. 43(3) 309-324
ª2018 Georgia State University
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0734016818761100
to be a result of shared risk factors that have an effect on both outcomes (Broidy, Daday, Crandall,
Sklar, & Jost, 2006). In empirical studies, risky routine activities (Cops & Pleysier, 2014) and low
self-control (Flexon, Meldrum, & Piquero, 2014; Schreck, Wright, & Miller, 2002) have been some
of the most central candidates for such risk factors. At the same time, it seems likely that some part
of the overlap is related to state-dependent processes, where criminal offending causally increases
the risk of future victimization above and beyond unobserved heterogeneity.
Several studies have sought to disentangle the state-dependent effect (Lauritsen & Laub, 2007) of
offending on victimization (Chen, 2009a, 2009b) and victimization on offending (Ousey, Wilcox, &
Fisher, 2011; Sullivan, Ousey, & Wilcox, 2015; Zhang, Welte, & Wieczorek, 2001). Some have
used longitudinal data to examine how within-individual change in offending is related to change in
victimization while controlling for stable unobserved heterogeneity (Chen, 2009b; Ousey et al.,
2011), whereas others have compared group-based trajectories of both offending and victimization,
finding similarities in the life-course development of the two outcomes (Jennings, Higgins, Tewks-
bury, Gover, & Piquero, 2010; Smith & Ecob, 2007). Although many of these studies suggest that
offending has a state-dependent positive effect on later victimization (Sullivan et al., 2015), there are
also results suggesting that violent offen ding decreases the risk of later victimizati on (Berg &
Loeber, 2015; Ousey et al., 2011; Smith & Ecob, 2007).
One issue in the study of state-dependent effects between offending and victimization is the
temporal distance between the two events. It is plausible that some of these effects are
“developmental” by nature, for instance, when maltreatment in childhood leads to violent offending
in adulthood. At the same time, some effects could emerge within a very short temporal frame,
perhaps within a span of days or weeks. Methodological issues, however, complicate the analysis of
short-term state-dependent associations. Data sets with yearly or longer measurement intervals are
not optimal in such inquiries, as they cannot reliably distinguish the temporal order of offending and
victimization on weekly or monthly levels. This means that some important short-term effects may
have been missed (Sariaslan, Lichtenstein, Larsson, & Fazel, 2016). Only a handful of studies have
used temporally detailed data (Averdijk & Bernasco, 2015; Sariaslan et al., 2016) to study these
questions, which means that existing research does not provide much insight into short-term
dynamics between offending and victimization.
One specific mechanism that could cause an immediate increase in violent offending after
victimization is revenge. Revenge motives are generally very prevalent in adolescent violent offend-
ing (Kivivuori, Savolainen, & Aaltonen, 2016) and cycles of revenge are a well-known phenomenon
in gang violence (Bjørgo, 2005; Papachristos, 2009). As it stands, the literature on state-dependent
associations between offending and victimization has not looked at retaliatory acts and whether they
might be one explanatory mechanism behind these dynamic associations.
The aim of the current article i s to examine short-term associ ations between offending and
victimization and analyze the potential role that revenge motives play in creating state-dependent
effects between offending and victimization. We contribute to this mostly survey-based literature by
using complete data on police-reported assaults in Finland during 2005–2011, where both offenders
and victims involved in the incidents can be identified. These data include exact dates of these
incidents and thus allow a temporally detailed investigation of these dynamics.
We present three sets of related analyses that increase in level of detail in examining the possi-
bility that some state-dependent associations between victimization and offending are based on
short-term situational and motivational revenge mechanisms. First, we use a fixed-effects regression
model with monthly panel data to examine whether the risk of victimization is higher during periods
of criminal offending. If state-dependent effects exist, the hypothesis is that the risk of violent
victimization should be higher after crimes are committed. In the second part, we increase temporal
precision and the size of the data and examine whether the probability of violent offending changes
in the days, weeks, or months preceding and following violent victimization and vice versa. If
310 Criminal Justice Review 43(3)

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