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Dr Spencer Chainey
Top Floor
35 Tavistock Square
  • Principal Research Fellow
  • Dept of Security and Crime Science
  • Faculty of Engineering Science

Spencer is Director of the JDI Latin America and Caribbean Unit, the Principal Research Associate at UCL’s Jill Dando Institute and is the director of the training course programme provided by the JDI.  Spencer has over 20 years of experience in developing and helping to implement problem-oriented, intelligence-led, evidence-based principles in policing, public safety and other emergency services, local government and central government, and commerce.  Spencer plays an active role at the interface between the department’s research and knowledge-raising activities, and the implementation of practice for improving policing and public safety.  Spencer works closely with police agencies and citizen security ministries across the world, and across the spectrum of ranks – from senior policy makers and police chiefs to front-line police officers.  In most recent years, Spencer has worked closely with police and public safety agencies in New Zealand Police, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Austria, the USA, Canada, China, Hong Kong, South Africa, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Abu Dhabi.  This includes supporting a training programme in developing intelligence-led policing methods for the Danish Police (2014-ongoing), leading on the delivery of POP training to police in Uruguay (2015/16), and coordinating a multi-city hotspot policing programme in Argentina (2017).  Spencer also teaches the JDI’s master’s degree module on hotspot policing, and leads our certified training programme in geographic profiling for criminal investigations.

Prior to joining UCL, Spencer spent several years working in the private sector, in policing and in local government on Geographical Information Systems (GIS), community safety, information sharing, housing development and regeneration projects (1996-2003).  Spencer was Chair of the UK’s Association for Geographic Information (AGI) in 2003, and chairs the AGI Crime and Disorder Special Interest Group.

His work is much published and includes the UK's guide and practice advice on ‘Information sharing for community safety’, the US National Institute of Justice booklet ‘Understanding Hotspots’, and his definitive book on ‘GIS and Crime Mapping', co-authored with Jerry Ratcliffe.  He is also the co-author of the UK College of Policing report on the targeting of stop and search.

Research Themes
Research Summary

A list of current and recent activities:

Much of Spencer's work is focused on developing research on crime and citizen security in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Current and recent research projects include,

  • a multi-city hotspot policing programme in Argentina
  • research on the spatial distribution of homicide across Latin America and the Caribbean
  • examining the concentration of robberies in Rio de Janeiro
  • burglary repeat and near repeat victimisation in Belo Horizonte (Brazil)
  • predictive policing and agent-based modelling of robbery in Mexico.
Further details on activities associated with the JDI LAC can be found here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/jdi/JDI_LAC_Unit

Understanding the crime fall: an empirical crime-specific approach to examining and explaining changes in crime in England and Wales.

Working with Police Forces and Community Safety Partnerships, helping to understand and solve local crime problems: Northamptonshire (violence associated with the night-time economy), North Wales (street drinking, town centre ASB), Buckinghamshire (street drinking, youth cannabis use, theft from motor vehicles), West Midlands (street prostitution, residential burglary, street drug dealing, housing estate criminal damage, metal theft, theft of mobile phones, alcohol-related youth ASB, street drinking, shoplifting), Durham (metal theft, anti-social behaviour), Oldham (residential burglary, robbery), Trafford (residential burglary, bike theft, theft from motor vehicles), Sunderland (serious violent crime, motorbike disorder, residential burglary), Newcastle (residential burglary, criminal damage, violent crime associated with the night-time economy).

The utility of hotspot mapping techniques for predicting crime patterns (e.g. thematic mapping of administrative areas, kernel density estimation, LISA statistics, and the Gi* statistic

Identifying priority neighbourhoods using the Vulnerable Localities Index

The police targeting of stop and search.  (This research was completed in 2005 and 2006 for the Home Office, but was not published until 2013 by the UK College of Policing)

Academic Background
  BSc Bachelor of Science – Geography Kingston University
  MSc Master of Science University of Edinburgh
2015 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Crime Science University College London
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