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Does Crime Just Move Around the Corner? A Study of Displacement and Diffusion in Jersey City, NJ

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2004
369 pages
This federally supported report examined displacement and diffusion in relation to hot spot policing approaches, focusing on the possibility and characteristics of displacement and diffusion to areas near the targeted sites of intervention.
Over the past years, there have been a substantial number of research studies conducted on hot spots policing efforts which have shown that hot spot policing approaches have strong impacts upon crime in target sites. Yet, there is concern that by focusing police efforts on hot spots, crime will simply be displaced to non-targeted areas. This study, supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, focused on the immediate spatial displacement or diffusion of crime to areas near the targeted sites of intervention. Two study sites were selected in Jersey City, NJ to determine if prevention efforts simply move crime around the corner or do crime in hot spot areas get diffused to areas immediately surrounding the direct focus target areas? In each site, small target areas were selected to receive intensive police enforcement and to capture displacement or diffusion, two catchment areas surrounding the targeted areas were defined and selected for each site. Study findings confirm earlier study findings which reported little evidence of immediate spatial displacement, and strong evidence for diffusion of benefits beyond the targeted areas. This adds strong support to a policy approach focusing police resources at crime hot spots. High concentration on hot spots is likely to lead to strong crime prevention benefits. However, the study suggests some caution to those who have argued that hot spots policing will produce strong crime prevention outcomes without displacement of crime. Lastly, the study suggests the importance of nonofficial data sources for assessing crime prevention programs, specifically the use of social and physical observations and qualitative data collection for assessing direct program impacts. References, tables, appendix 1, and appendixes C-N

Date Published: December 1, 2004