The criminal careers of chronic offenders in Vancouver, British Columbia

Resource type
Thesis type
(Dissertation) Ph.D.
Date created
Typically, research on “chronic offenders” employs a cohort design with general population or higher risk samples. These designs tend to include a small number of high frequency offenders. This dissertation examines the conviction histories of 152 pre-identified high frequency offenders who are supervised by the Chronic Offenders Program (COP) at the Vancouver Police Department in Vancouver, British Columbia. The lifetime conviction histories and other background variables of the 152 offenders were coded from official police data repositories to examine the parameters from the criminal career paradigm. The results indicate that the COP offenders participate in many types of less serious and serious crime. They have long average criminal careers with an average of 47 total convictions accrued in their lifetimes. Moreover, the age of onset of the COP sample is in the late teens and early adulthood and they typically start offending with a property crime. The analysis of age-crime curves of the COP offenders indicates that their offending increases significantly after the typical drop in the mid to late twenties. The analysis of three lambda estimates shows that the COP offenders have high yearly conviction rates. Moreover, the inclusion of incapacitation time in the estimate of lambda has important ramifications for both the lambda score and the distribution of scores. The analysis of lambda over time shows that it is not constant over time. The multivariate models predicting lifetime lambda scores indicate that lambda estimates for total convictions are positively influenced by ethnicity and residential instability. In contrast, the models predicting serious conviction lambdas show that ethnicity is positively related, while age of onset and gender are inversely related to these estimates of lambda. The analysis of specialization, using the diversity index, shows that COP offenders as a group are not specialized over the life course. However, an analysis of diversity over time indicates that COP offenders become less versatile as they age. Tobit regressions predicting lifetime diversity scores indicate that females are more specialized than males and that age of onset is positively related to specialization. The significance of the results to research and DLC theory is discussed.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Brantingham, Paul
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etd6983_CGiles.pdf 2.52 MB