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In Brief: Block by Block: Zeroing in on Crime Trends

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 267 Dated: Winter 2010 Pages: 16-17
Date Published
March 2011
2 pages
Publication Series
This brief examines the identification of crime hot spots at the micro-level of city blocks (street segments) through the examination of several theories.
Researchers point out those crime prevention efforts aimed at entire neighborhoods or groups of neighborhoods are not efficient uses of limited police resources, because most crime is concentrated in a small percentage of street segments. If law enforcement agencies can identify street segments with high crime rates, they can direct resources toward those places. They can potentially achieve the same level of crime prevention with a smaller number of targets. Researchers in this brief studied block-by-block crime incidents in Seattle from 1989 to 2004. Crime rates were found to have declined in Seattle at the micro-level of city blocks. Block-level information was assembled to answer questions related to social disorganization theory and opportunity theories of crime as well as routine activity theory. Urban areas of crime were highly concentrated in specific places and that most places have little or no crime. It was found that 50 percent of the crime occurred in just 5 to 6 percent of the blocks. 2 notes

Date Published: March 1, 2011