Experimental Criminology @ Cambridge

Professor Sherman "Less Prison, More Policing"
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Professor Sherman "Professional Policing". The Benjamin Franklin Award 2011.
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Welcome to the Jerry Lee Centre of Experimental Criminology.

Our Centre, founded in 2007, is the first of its kind. Please meet the team:

Director, Institute of Criminology, Cambridge, Director, Jerry Lee Centre for Experimental Criminology and Founding President, Academy of Experimental Criminology

Honrorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge, and Fellow, Academy of Experimental Criminology
Professor of Psychological Criminology and Past President, Academy of Experimental Criminology

Professor of Comparative & Developmental Criminology
Deputy Director, Police Executive Programme and Deputy Director, Jerry Lee Centre for Experimental Criminology
Jerry Lee Fellow in Experimental Criminology and Lecturer of Evidence Based Policing

Ph.D. Candidate, Project Director of Crime Harm Experiments and Former Chief Constable, Thames Valley & NPIA

We are currently engaged in several vital projects to advance our field, including:


REX-COST is an acronym of Registry of EXperiments in COrrections Strategy and Tactics

All submissions for this regsitry should be sent, in CRIM-PORT format, to Dr Heather

Registry of Experiments

  1. Criminological Protocol for Operating Randomized Trials, Ruback 2012
  2. Do offenders discover the harm of their offences? A multi-site randomised controlled trial evaluation of the Sycamore Tree Programme, WIlson 2013


REX-POST is an acronym of Registry of EXperiments in POlicing Strategy and Tactics

All submissions for this regsitry should be sent, in CRIM-PORT format, to Dr Heather

Registry of Experiments

  1. West Midlands Police
  2. Operation Beck
  3. Operation Turning Point
  4. The Salt Lake City Court-Mandated Restorative Justice Treatment For Domestic Batterers Experiment - Part I
  5. The Rialto Police Department Wearable Cameras Experiment

Armed Police

Experimental criminology is scientific knowledge about crime and justice discovered from random assignment of different conditions in large field tests. This method is the preferred way to estimate the average effects of one variable on another, holding all other variables constant While the experimental method is not intended to answer all research questions in criminology, it can be used far more often than most criminologists assume. Opportunities are particularly promising in partnership with criminal justice agencies.

Police vans

The highest and best use of experimental criminology is to develop and test theoretically coherent ideas about reducing harm from crime, rather than just “evaluating” existing or even new government programs. Testing key ideas, in turn, can help to accumulate an integrated body of grounded theory in which experimental evidence plays a crucial role. When properly executed, randomized field experiments provide the ideal tests of theories about both the prevention and causation of crime.

The many advantages of experimental methods help explain why this branch of criminology is growing rapidly. Just since 2005, the field has seen its first journal established (Journal of Experimental Criminology), its own separate Division of Experimental Criminology within the American Society of Criminology, and the first University centre dedicated solely to this field: the sponsor of this page, the Jerry Lee Centre for Experimental Criminology at Cambridge University. All these institutions are dedicated to making the most of the better knowledge experiments can bring.

Yet these advantages depend entirely on the capability of the experimenters to insure success in achieving the many necessary elements of an unbiased comparison. Many, if not most, randomized field experiments in criminology suffer flaws that could have been avoided with better planning. The lack of such planning, in turn, may be due to the scant attention paid to field experiments in research methods texts and courses. Even skilled, senior researchers can make basic mistakes when conducting field experiments, since experiments require a very different set of skills and methods than the “normal science” of observational criminology.

This web page is intended to help foster better experiments in criminology, in three ways:

  1. Providing a format for experimental planning, called protocols.
  2. Providing registries for criminology experiments, where protocols can be transparent and credible.
  3. Providing links to people doing experimental criminology, to foster more communication.

For further information about experiments in criminology, contact Dr. Barak Ariel at Cambridge,

YouTube video of Professor Sherman's 'Crime Hot Spots' chat

For other global institutions in experimental criminology, please click on the following links:

Professor Sherman in the Telegraph: The magic bullet that could solve our prison problem.

Professor Sherman's new book, Experimental Criminology, was published in February 2012. To purchase the book, please click HERE or on the image of the book above.

Professor Sherman is also the Director of the Police Executive Programme.