Professor Ian Brunton-Smith

Professor Ian Brunton-Smith

Visiting Professor

Department of Methodology

Key Expertise
Criminology, Quantitative Methods, Survey Methodology, Administrative Data

About me

Ian Brunton-Smith is Professor of Criminology and Research Methods at the University of Surrey. He has wide ranging interests in the application of advanced quantitative methods across the Social Sciences including new developments in multilevel modelling, bayesian statistics, and survey methodology. He currently holds an evaluation fellowship with the Ministry of Justice (funded by ESRC and ADR UK) to explore the research opportunities available from the new administrative data linkages across the Criminal Justice System. He is also Principal Investigator of an ESRC funded project examining the impact of measurement error in crime data.

Professor Brunton-Smith is associate editor for Sociology and the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A and sits on the editorial board of the British Journal of Criminology. He is co-director of the Surrey Centre for Criminology, member of the Police Funding Formula Technical Reference Group and on the steering group of the Crime Surveys Transformation Project. He was also a REF panel member for the 2021 exercise (Sociology).

Research Interests

In Criminology Ian has been working to understanding the impact of measurement error on recorded crime data. His work also examines the impact of prison effects, as well as the role of neighbourhood context in shaping residents' experiences. In Survey Methodology his research has tended to focus on the role of interviewer effects.

Recounting Crime - Accounting for Measurement Error in Recorded Crime Data
It is well known that police recorded crime data are an imperfect measure of crime. Not only do the police fail to record some offences, but the public also regularly choose not to report things to the police in the first place. Taken together, this 'dark figure' of crime can have serious implications for the validity of any empirical work using recorded crime data. In this research project we treat this as a measurement error problem, exploring different ways to assess the sensitivity of empirical results to the presence of these errors.

Prison Effects
This work explores the impact of prison experience on reoffending and employment amongst a cohort of nearly 4,000 prisoners using survey data from the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction (SPCR) survey linked to the Police National Computer. This includes the application of multilevel models to adjust for prison context, and longitudinal models to examine changes in prisoner experience and attitudes over time.

Neighbourhood Context
Ian’s work has examined the potential impact that neighbourhood context has in shaping local residents perceptions. This has involved the application of multilevel models to crime survey data in order to identify the contribution of neighbourhood context, and combining this with contextual information from the census of England and Wales.

Ian’s research in survey methodology focuses specifically on the potential contribution that interviewers make to estimates of measurement error in face to face surveys. This is examined with the application of cross-classified multilevel models with a complex error structure to face to face survey data. He has also been involved in work looking at the potential for interviewer observation data collected during the interview to adjust survey estimates for nonresponse bias, as well as the potential for panel conditioning effects in longitudinal surveys.

Journal Articles

Journal Articles within the last 5 years

Pina-Sánchez, J., Buil-Gil, D., Brunton-Smith, I., and Cernat, A. (forthcoming) ‘The Impact of Measurement Error in Models Using Police Recorded Crime Rates’. Journal of Quantitative Criminology.

McCarthy, D., and Brunton-Smith, I. (forthcoming) ‘International Attitudes towards the Death Penalty: An Assessment of Individual and Country-Level Differences’. European Journal of Criminology.

Meadows, R., Brunton-Smith, I., and Ellis, J. (2022) ‘Are sleep quality judgements comparable across individuals, place and space? An interdisciplinary analysis of data from 207,608 individuals from 68 countries’. Sleep Health. Online first

Buil-Gil, D., Cernat, A., Brunton-Smith, I., Pina-Sánchez, J. (2022) ‘Comparing Measurements of Crime in Local Communities: A Case Study in Islington, London’. Police Practice and Research: An International Journal. Online first.

Salmela, J., Brunton-Smith, I., and Meadows, R. (2022) ‘Inequalities in recovery or methodological artefact? A comparison of models across physical and mental health’. Social Science and Medicine - Population Health. 17

Brunton-Smith, I., Flatley, J., and Tarling, R. (2022) ‘Prevalence of sexual violence: a comparison of estimates from UK National Surveys’. European Journal of Criminology. 19(5): 891-910.

Cernat, A., Buil-Gil, D., Brunton-Smith, I., Pina-Sánchez, J., and Murria-Sangenıs, M. (2021) ‘Estimating Crime in Place: Moving Beyond Residence Location’. Crime and Delinquency. Online first.

Yesberg, J., Brunton-Smith, I., and Bradford, B. (2021) ‘Police Visibility, Trust in Police Fairness, and Collective Efficacy: A Multilevel Structural Equation Model’. European Journal of Criminology. Online first.

Pina-Sánchez, J., and Brunton-Smith, I. (2021) ‘Are We All Equally Persuaded by Procedural Justice? Measuring the ‘Invariance Thesis’ Using Longitudinal Data and Random Effects’. The Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology. Online first

Sturgis, P., Brunton-Smith, I., and Jackson, J. (2021) ‘Trust in science, social consensus, and vaccine confidence’. Nature Human Behavior. 5: 1528–1534.

Fenn, L., and Brunton-Smith, I. (2021) ‘The effects of terror incidents on public worry of future attacks, views of the police and social cohesion’. British Journal of Criminology. 61(2): 497–518.

Jackson, J., Brunton-Smith, I., Bradford, B., Posch, K., Rodriguez-Oliveira, T., and Sturgis, P. (2021) ‘Police Legitimacy and the Norm to Cooperate: Using a Mixed Effects Location-Scale Model to Estimate the Strength of Social Norms’. Journal of Quantitative Criminology. 37: 547–572

Sturgis, P., Durrant, G., Maslovskya, O., and Brunton-Smith, I. (2021) ‘The interviewer contribution to variability in response times in face-to-face interview surveys’. Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology. 9(4): 701-721.

Pina-Sánchez, J., and Brunton-Smith, I. (2020) ‘Re-assessing the relationship between procedural justice and police legitimacy.’ Law and Human Behavior. 44(5): 377-393.

Brunton-Smith, I., Pina-Sánchez, J., and Li, G. (2020) ‘Re-assessing the consistency of sentencing decisions in cases of Assault: Allowing for within court inconsistencies’. British Journal of Criminology, 60(6): 1438-1459.

Pina-Sánchez, J., Brunton-Smith, I., and Li, G. (2020) ‘Mind the step: A More Insightful and Robust Analysis of the Sentencing Process in England and Wales under the New Sentencing Guidelines’. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 20(3): 268-301.

Pina-Sánchez, J., Brunton-Smith, I., Grech, D., and Sferopoulos, D. (2019) ‘Exploring the Origin of Sentencing Disparities in the Crown Court: Using Text Mining Techniques to Differentiate between Court and Judge Disparities’. Social Science Research, 84. 1023-43

Joliffe, D., Farrington, D.P., Brunton-Smith, I., Loeber, R., Ahonen, L., and Paula Palacios, A. (2019) ‘Depression, Anxiety and Delinquency: Results from the Pittsburgh Youth Study’. Journal of Criminal Justice, 62: 42-49.

Quick, M., Li, G., and Brunton-Smith, I. (2018) ‘Crime-general and crime-specific spatial patterns: A multivariate spatial analysis of four crime types at the small-area scale’. Journal of Criminal Justice, 58: 22-32.

Brunton-Smith, I., and Bullock, K. (2018) ‘Patterns and Drivers of Co-production in Neighbourhood Watch in England and Wales: From Neo-liberalism to New Localism’. British Journal of Criminology, 59(1): 85-106.

Brunton-Smith, I., Sturgis, P., and Leckie, G. (2018) ‘How collective is collective efficacy? The importance of consensus in judgments about community cohesion and willingness to intervene’. Criminology, 56(3): 608-637.

McCarthy, D., and Brunton-Smith, I. (2018) ‘The effect of penal legitimacy on prisoners’ post-release desistance’. Crime and Delinquency, 64 (7): 917-9:8. Spanish translation -

Allum, N., Besley, J., Gomez, L, and Brunton-Smith, I. (2018) ‘Disparities in science literacy’. Science, 360(6391): 861-862.

Skudder, H., Brunton-Smith, I., Druckman, A., Cole, J., and McInnes, A. (2018) ‘The falling carbon footprint of acquisitive and violent offences’. British Journal of Criminology, 58(2): 351-371.

Skudder, H., Brunton-Smith, I., Tseloni, A., McInnes, A., Cole, J., Thompson, R., and Druckman, A. (2018) ‘Can burglary prevention be low-carbon and effective? Investigating the environmental performance of burglary prevention measures’. Security Journal, 31: 111-138.

McCarthy, D., and Brunton-Smith, I. (2017) ‘Prisoner-family ties during imprisonment: Reassessing resettlement outcomes’. Prison Service Journal, 233: 23-27.

Brunton-Smith, I., and Tarling, R. (2017) ‘Harnessing paradata and multilevel multiple imputation when analysing longitudinal survey data’. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 20(6): 709-720.

Sturgis, P., Williams, J., Brunton-Smith, I., and Moore, J. (2017) ‘Fieldwork effort, response rate and the distribution of survey outcomes: a multi-level meta-analysis’. Public Opinion Quarterly. 81(2): 523-542.

Sindall, K., McCarthy, D., and Brunton-Smith, I. (2017) ‘Young people and the formation of attitudes towards the police’. European Journal of Criminology. 14(3): 344-364.

Brunton-Smith, I., Sturgis, P., and Leckie, G. (2017) ‘Detecting and understanding interviewer effects on survey data by using a cross-classified mixed effects location-scale model’. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A. 180(2): 551-568.

Skudder, H., Druckman, A., Cole, J., Ansaloni, G. P., Brunton-Smith, I., and McInnes, A. (2017) ‘Addressing the carbon-crime blind spot: A carbon footprint approach’. Journal of Industrial Ecology. 21(4): 797-1041.

Brunton-Smith, I., and McCarthy, D. (2017) ‘The effects of prisoner attachment to family on re-entry outcomes: A longitudinal assessment’. British Journal of Criminology. 57(2): 463-482.

Chapters and Reports

Chapters and Reports within the last five years

Brunton-Smith, I., Buil-Gil, D., Pina-Sánchez, J., Cernat, A., and Moretti, A. (forthcoming) ‘Using synthetic crime data to understand patterns of police under-counting at the local level’, in Huey, L, and Buil-Gil, D (eds) The Crime Data Handbook.

Shoesmith, H., Brunton-Smith, I., Tseloni. A., Thompson, R., and Druckman, A. (forthcoming) ‘The carbon footprint of crime and security’, in Gill, M (ed) The Handbook of Security. (3rd edition).

Buil-Gil, D., Pina-Sánchez, J., Brunton-Smith, I., and Cernat, A. (2022) ‘Bad Data, Worse Predictions: How Measurement Error in Crime Data Affects Crime Prevention’. CREST Security Review Magazine.

Buil-Gil, D., Brunton-Smith, I., Pina-Sánchez, J., Cernat, D., and Moretti, A. (2021). ‘Synthetic crime data in England and Wales (version 0.1)’. Zenodo.

Sutherland, A., Brunton-Smith, I., Hutt, O., and Bradford, B. (2020) ‘Violent crime in London: Trends, trajectories, and neighbourhood effects’. Report for the College of Policing.

Sturgis, P. Brunton-Smith, I., and Jackson, J. (2019) ‘Regression-based response probing for assessing the validity of survey questions’, in Beatty, P., Collins, D., Kaye, L., Padilla, J-L., Willis, G., and Wilmott, A. (eds) Advances in Questionnaire Design, Development, Evaluation and Testing. Wiley (in press).

Brunton-Smith, I. (2020) ‘Chapter 31 – Systematic Social Observation’ in Johnson, S., and Bruinsma, G. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Criminology, Oxford University Press.

Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Brunton-Smith, I., and Gray, E. (2018) ‘In the eye of the (motivated) beholder: Towards a motivated cognition perspective on disorder perceptions’ in Lee, M., and Mythen. G. (eds) International handbook of fear of crime. Routledge. Oxon.

Brunton-Smith, I. (2018) ‘Fear 2.0: Worry about cybercrime in England and Wales’ in Lee, M., and Mythen. G. (eds) International handbook of fear of crime. Routledge. Oxon.