Mechanisms of origin and development of criminal careers

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Project funded by NCN, carried out from 23 February 2017 to 22 February 2020.

The long-term study of criminal careers conducted at the Department of Criminology of the INP PAS and its momentous results prompted us to take a closer look at the social and family profiles of multiple offenders and the types of crimes they commit.

General information – the research problem

A fundamental problem of today’s social policy (as well as crime policy within it) is the lack of up-to-date knowledge about why some offenders commit repeated offences, what factors influence the onset of criminal careers (risk factors), so what measures should be taken to prevent young people from becoming involved in criminal activity. It should also be made clear what social and economic factors contribute to the development of criminal careers or lead to their discontinuation. The missing knowledge of these factors translates, on the one hand, into a lack of early intervention programmes (to prevent minors from entering the criminal path) and, on the other hand, into ineffective recovery programmes at different stages of their criminal career.

Project objectives

The most important research objectives that are planned for this project are:

  1. to define factors during juvenile life that influence the start of criminal careers of multiple offenders;
  2. to define risk factors influencing the progression and persistence of criminal careers of multiple offenders;
  3. to define the factors influencing the different types of criminal careers of multiple offenders;
  4. to examine the influence of gender on the patterns of criminal careers of multiple offenders;
  5. to define crime trends in Poland as compared to crime trends of multiple offenders in different age categories (“older” offenders, who are now over 45, and “younger” offenders aged 25-35);
  6. to identify the impact of social and economic factors (including the freedom of movement of people associated with Poland’s accession to the European Union) on the types, forms, places of perpetration and intensity of repeated offending.


A catamnestic study of criminal careers of re-offenders consists in checking further criminal records in the National Criminal Register of 2056 persons who committed a crime or a punishable act as minors and were surveyed by the Criminal Investigation Department of the Institute of Public Information of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The anamnestic research on criminal careers of multiple offenders will be conducted on a group of approximately 45-50 selected subjects, serving prison sentences at the time of the study.

The project will also include research on crime trends among multiple offenders in different age categories against the general trends of crime in Poland based on available statistical data, literature on the subject, data from the National Criminal Record and examination of criminal case files.

The study will be supplemented by an analysis of risk factors for the development of a criminal career, which will be expanded by an analysis of autobiographical narrative interviews as well as an attempt to identify types of criminal careers among multiple offenders.

The hypothesis on the division of this population into three types of criminal careers (DeLisi 2005) will be verified.

The research team will also conduct analysis on the influence of social and economic factors on the development of multiple offenders’ crime careers.

Throughout the research period, at each stage of the study, there will also be an analysis of the background data, mainly the literature on the issues of catamnestic research, anamnestic research, research on recidivism, research on criminal careers and the factors responsible for quitting crime (desistance). The findings will be based on the principle of triangulation. They will therefore include studies from all of the above types of research methods and techniques and will result from their comparison, complementation and detailing. All results will be shown against a broader background of historical analysis and recent international data on criminal career development.

Head: Prof. Irena Rzeplińska

Efektami naukowymi projektu są następujące publikacje:

  1. Konrad Buczkowski, Paulina Wiktorska, Relapsing Into Crime Versus a Notion of Criminal Career in Polish Criminological Studies, “Biuletyn Polskiego Towarzystwa Kryminologicznego Profesora Stanisława Batawii” nr 24/2018, s. 191 – 196.
  2. Konrad Buczkowski, Paulina Wiktorska, Crime in the subsequent adult life of former juvenile offenders: Selected aspects of the impact of political transformation in Poland on a return to delinquency by adults who were juvenile delinquents in the 1980s and 2000s, “Archiwum Kryminologii”, Tom XLII, nr 1/2020, s. 97 – 116.
  3. Dagmara Woźniakowska – Fajst, 20 years on the path – the criminal careers of polish juvenile girls, “Archiwum Kryminologii”, Tom XLII, nr 1/2020, s. 117 – 138.
  4. Irena Rzeplińska, Wyjście z przestępczości. Wielokrotni sprawcy przestępstw i szanse ich resocjalizacji, „Księga Jubileuszowa Profesor Małgorzaty Król – Bogomilskiej. Interdyscyplinarność – w nauce najciekawsze rzeczy dzieją się na styku różnych dziedzin, 202, s. 159 – 165.
  5. Ostatecznym efektem naukowym będzie opublikowanie monografii na podstawie całości badań prowadzonych w ramach projektu. Realizacja grantu została przedłużona do dnia 22.12.2021.