The importance of space and time in aggravated assault victimization

07 Jan 2021

Interpersonal crimes such as aggravated assault greatly impacts upon an individuals’ sense of personal safety and security as the crime results in a physical injury. Understanding where and when aggravated assaults are most likely to occur is therefore vital to minimize the victimization risk associated with this crime. The main aim of this study is to explore the relative importance of space and time in aggravated assault victimization. This was done using national level aggravated assault data (2008-2010) obtained from New Zealand Police and census data from Statistics New Zealand. Both the spatial and temporal distribution of aggravated assault are outlined to examine their association with aggravated assault victimization. Aggravated assault is found to cluster in space but not in time. The relationships between aggravated assault risk in space and time and a suite of social, economic, and lifestyle variables was then examined. A clear socioeconomic gradient was found between aggravated assault risk by space and all neighborhood characteristics with high-risk neighborhoods having greater residential mobility and ethnic/racial diversity, as well as being more deprived, having higher rates of unemployment, and lower median household incomes. No clear pattern emerged between aggravated assault by time and the selected neighborhood characteristics. The policy implications of these findings in terms of policing and diversity conclude.