Hot and bothered?

Associations between temperature and crime in Australia

Heather R. Stevens*, Paul J. Beggs, Petra L. Graham, Hsing-Chung Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Temperature and crime is one of the most extreme relationships between the atmospheric environment and human behaviour, yet our knowledge about it is primarily based on Northern Hemisphere research. This study used both temporal and spatial models to investigate the relationship between temperature and crime in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, using an 11-year data set. Results suggested that assault and theft counts were significantly higher in summer than winter (17.8 and 3.7%, respectively), while fraud counts were not significantly different. Using linear and quadratic terms for maximum daily temperature, a linear regression model indicated that daily assault counts significantly increased with rising temperature and the rate of increase slowed as temperatures exceeded 30 °C. Theft counts significantly increased with rising temperature then declined as temperatures exceeded 30°C. Again, there was no evidence of a relationship between temperature and frequency of fraud count. Spatial modelling revealed that 96% of local government areas (LGAs) in NSW had a higher summer assault rate than winter. The findings of this study provide an empirical foundation for understanding crime-temperature relationships in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-762
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Biometeorology
Volume63
Issue number6
Early online date4 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Assault
  • Heat
  • New South Wales
  • Theft
  • Time series regression

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