Crime Linkage


Matthew Tonkin, Amy Burrell (School of Social Sciences) 


Building on their PhD research on the subject, lecturers in Forensic Psychology, Dr Matthew Tonkin and Dr Amy Burrell have collaborated on a research project that investigates the linkage of crime with behaviour. Crime Linkage, (C-LINK) focuses on analysing the behaviour of repeat offenders who have operated in a similar crime scene, as a way to pinpoint criminal behaviour. Externally funded by the Leverhulme trust, this project incorporates worldwide researchers and police organisations to establish a suitable evidence-based approach to detect criminals by using this technique.

C-LINK is made up of two research projects, the first project involves comparing and analysing datasets of unsolved crimes by Dr Jessica Woodhams from the University of Birmingham. The second project involves each researcher applying their own statistical techniques to these datasets, the different techniques will then be analysed by Dr Bennell from Carleton University, Canada.


By carrying out this project, the academics aim to:

  • Investigate how serial criminals behave and how this links to their crimes
  • Discover the psychology behind why criminals repeat an offence
  • Create a quicker and more accurate way of detecting criminals
  • Finding recurring patterns of behaviour in offenders
  • Contribute to a decrease in crime rates
  • Develop a process to foresee the occurrence of crimes as a way of prevention


This research has the potential to decrease crime rates as dangerous criminals will be detected more easily, when physical forensic evidence isn’t present. Processing forensic evidence can also be expensive and less time efficient, so behavioural analysis could be more effective.


As a result of this project a wide variety of academic papers and book chapters have been published on the subjects of: Arson, Burglary, Murder, Robbery, Sexual Assault, Uses of Evidence and Vehicle Crime. Seminars have been held at various universities, (including Birmingham City University) such as the University of Derby, on the results that they have found throughout this project.

If you’d like to find out more visit the C-LINK website. Matthew Tonkin and Amy Burrell will be presenting their research at the British Academy Conference in October 2016 on ‘Using Behavioural Science to Target Prolific Criminals’.