Research on residential burglary: ways of improving validity and participants’ recall when gathering data

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The emphasis of our current debate is on the extent to which we can increase the veracity of what offenders tell us. I would argue that offenders are human beings, subject to the same limitations of memory as any individual, but equally influenced by the methods we have learnt to enhance memory. The grounded approach to research on residential burglary that has prevailed in the last 30 years has encouraged a triangulation of various methodologies and has certainly aided us in incorporating existing memory-enhancing techniques and discovering new ones. This will be the focus of this chapter. I will begin with a brief overview of grounded approaches to offender-based work and review the research on residential burglary within that paradigm. I will look at the debate surrounding the relative value of data gleaned from convicted offenders in comparison to active offenders and I will point to the remarkable consistency in the findings gleaned from a whole variety of samples and methodologies in the residential burglary field. I will then turn to an examination of the parameters of autobiographical memory and how techniques which have emerged in our offender-based research can complement these strictures well. I will describe some memoryenhancing techniques developed over the last two decades and how all of these can help us in our quest for more accurate data, including life-events calendars and lessons learnt from the cognitive interview (Fisher and Geiselman, 1992). I will end with a description of some planned new work which will bring together expertise in context-reinstatement using laptop simulations and may resolve the longstanding discussion over the use of active versus incarcerated offenders in research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOffenders on Offending: learning about crime from criminals
EditorsW. Bernasco
Place of PublicationDevon
PublisherWillan Publishing
Number of pages328
ISBN (Print)9781843927761
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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