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ESC Best Article of the Year Award

NSCR fellow Janna Verbruggen and NSCR researcher Arjan Blokland, together with Amanda L. Robinson and Christopher D. Maxwell have been awarded with the ESC (European Society of Criminology) European Journal of Criminology Best Article of the Year Award for their publication The Relationship between Criminal Behaviour over the Life-course and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration in Later Life.
By Prof. Arjan Blokland | 8 September 2021 | Life-course

The relationship between criminal behaviour over the life-course and intimate partner violence perpetration in later life focuses on the predictors of intimate partner violence (IPV) in late adulthood. The study is based on the Criminal Career and Life-Course Study, a longitudinal study of men and women convicted in the 1970s and an age matched non-convicted comparison group. A subset of this sample was interviewed in late adulthood (average age 60 years). The current study is on the 585 men in this subset who were in a steady relationship (three months minimum) at the time of the interview. Of the men in a steady relationship 5% reported physical IPV in the year before the interview.

Abusive behaviour part of a broader pattern of criminal behaviour

Prevalence of IPV was higher in men convicted of a violent offense at least once, and among men showing chronic criminal behaviour (early start, high frequency, long duration of convictions). Even when taking their criminal career into account experiencing family violence in childhood and being married at the time of the interview were associated with an increased likelihood of IPV. Men who rated their relationship as being of a higher quality and men who were employed, were less likely to perpetrate IPV. For the majority of IPV perpetrators in this study, their abusive behaviour was not unique to the relationship context but part of a broader pattern of criminal behaviour. The findings are in line with general criminological theories that contribute both crime and IPV to similar sets of risk factors. In addition, the findings are also in line with theories that link IPV to current stressors.

Causes of intimate partner violence and how to prevent it

The authors situate their research design and analysis against a backdrop of various theoretical perspectives, insightfully distinguishing those that argue that IPV is a unique form of violence implicated in specific contexts and associated with particular personal characteristics and vulnerabilities, from those that argue IPV is a manifestation of the same causal factors, personal or situational, which drive criminal behaviour more generally, including other forms of violence. In finding support for the latter, they contribute meaningfully to the endeavour to explain the causes of IPV, with implications for how we may prevent it. They also provide an important cross-cultural validation of previous research findings, suggesting that these findings have broad applicability.
The authors utilize an innovative analytical approach which combines predictive and trajectory-based modelling to examine patterns of criminal behaviour over time, while also exploring factors that predict and may be predicted by those patterns.

High-quality contribution to fundamental criminological science

The award committee was composed by Aleksandras Dobryninas (Chair, University of Vilnius and ESC President), Steve van de Weijer (NSCR and winner of the Award in 2020) and Kyle Treiber (University of Cambridge and EJC Editor-in-Chief). Their jury report stated: ‘This article is a high-quality contribution to fundamental criminological science through the meticulous analysis of robust data, including both official and self-reported components. In particular, the jury highlighted the theoretical, methodological, and analytical strengths of the paper, which together substantiate its contribution to European criminology on multiple fronts. Overall, the jury felt that this paper is exemplary of fundamental criminological enquiry, contributing to criminological theory testing, analytical methods, and knowledge about the fundamental nature of crime and its causes, as well as specifically IPV.’

Publication details and further reading

Verbruggen, J., Blokland, A., Robinson, A. & Maxwell, C. (2020). The relationship between criminal behaviour over the life-course and intimate partner violence perpetration in later life. European Journal of Criminology.

Read more about the ESC Scholarly Awards.

Prof. Arjan Blokland

Senior Researcher

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