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Centre for Analytic Criminology


The Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study (PADS+)

 Principal Investigator: Professor Per-Olof H. Wikström, University of Cambridge

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the main sponsor of PADS+ research with additional support kindly given by the Dawes foundation.

The Peterborough Adolescent and Young Adult Development Study (PADS+) is a prospective longitudinal study that has followed a random sample of 716 young people, who were 12 years old and living in the UK city of Peterborough and nearby villages, through adolescence into young adulthood. An initial interview was conducted with participants’ parents to collect in-depth data about their families’ social situations at the time of their enrolment and retrospective information on their childhood experiences and critical life events from birth. Interviews have then been conducted with participants up to age 24, annually between 2004 and 2008 with three further waves in 2010, 2012, and 2015 (see Figure 1). The study have an impressively high retention rate, for example, 96 % of the sample took part in the 6 first waves (until age 19) and 91% of the sample have taken part in all the eight waves collected so far (spanning 13 years).


Figure 1: Overview of the PADS+ research design

Figure 1

Cohort study: Initial participants, random sample of 716 young people at age 12

Community surveys: random samples of the population in each output area in Peterborough, about 7,000 participants in each community survey

PADS+ uses interviewer-led questionnaires to collect extensive data on participants and their personal, family, peer, partner, school, and work characteristics and experiences; cognitive tasks to measure participants executive capabilities; genotyping to assess participants’ relevant genetic polymorphisms; and an innovative space–time budget to gauge their exposure to different settings and circumstances (activity fields). Data has also been collected from criminal justice and other social agencies records (e.g., participants’ schools) (for more on these methods, see Wikström et al., 2012: 44-106).

 Additional methods have been employed to measure social environments within the study area (Peterborough and surrounding villages) where participants spend most of their time. This has included two special small-area community surveys (2005 and 2012) tapping into Peterborough’s social ecology using independent samples of around 6,000 randomly selected residents aged 18 years or older, which can be linked to census data obtained at the smallest available geographical level. Figure 2 gives an overview of key PADS+ methodologies and how they are designed to be integrated to study the convergence and interaction between people and places leading up to crime events (for more on these methods, see Wikström et al., 2012: 44-106).

 Figure 2: Overview of the PADS+ key methodologies



 Wikström P-O, Oberwittler D., Treiber K.. & Hardie B.. (2012). Breaking Rules. The Social and Situational Dynamics of Young People’s Urban Crime. Oxford. Oxford University Press.