Environmental factors that affect offenders and victims include the physical, social, family, community, economic, cultural and political environments in which individuals live. Impoverished physical, social and family environments have long been considered to be primary determinants of the development of criminal behaviour. Living in poverty, isolation from social support and being raised in a violent family are examples of these types of environmental risk factors. A lack of community cohesion in one's neighbourhood, poor economic conditions in society and conflict-ridden cultural and political environments are also potential risk factors for crime - both for offending and victimisation. The rate of unemployment, extent of use of the welfare system and the varying levels of education in society can all influence the prevalence and nature of crime. For example, higher rates of unemployment can have an impact on levels of crime.
An important environmental element relates to geographical location. The profile of crime varies across geographical areas at both the macro and micro level.
These differences in crime can be linked with regional differences in social, demographic and economic conditions. Understanding the nature of these links is important because it can shed light on how to manage and prevent crime.
Robert Park and Ernest Burgess introduced an ecological analysis of crime causation. Ecology is the study of animals and plants and how they relate to one another in their natural habitat. Park and Burgess then examined area characteristics instead of criminals for their explanations of high crime. They developed the idea of natural urban areas, which consisted of concentric zones which extended out from downtown central business district to the commuter zone at the fringes of the city. Each zone had its own structure and organisation, characteristics and unique inhabitants. This was known as Burgess' Concentric Zone Theory.
Clifford Shaw and...