A descriptive analysis of the temporal and geographical proximities seen within UK series of sex offenses

Jessica Woodhams, Kari Davies, Sarah Galambos, Mark Webb

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Previous studies of the geographical and temporal features of serial sex offenses are limited by small samples and/or geographical areas, and are dated. We address a significant gap in the literature by investigating the temporal and geographical proximity of the crimes of 402 serial stranger sex offenders in the UK. Periods of incarceration were extracted from calculations of temporal proximity giving a more accurate picture of series duration and time elapsed between offenses from the same series. A notable minority of serial stranger sex offenders commit their offenses within very close geographic proximity and the same was found for temporal proximity. There were also occurrences of series spanning large distances and many years. The implications of these findings for the use of geography and time in the behavioral linking of crimes, and what they mean for policy decisions regarding financial investment in law enforcement technology, are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-715
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date21 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was funded from the University of Birmingham’s ESRC IAA block grant (RRAI19386) and by the National Police Chief’s Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Inter-crime distance
  • Geographic proximity
  • Temporal proximity
  • Serial rape
  • Serial sex offences


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