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Focused Deterrence Strategies and Crime Control: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Evidence

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: 2018 Pages: 202-250
Date Published
49 pages

The authors provide an update to the examination of effects of focused deterrence strategies on crime, following the protocols and conventions of Campbell Collaboration, and conclude that while evidence suggests that focused deterrence strategies produce noteworthy crime reduction, they should be part of a broader portfolio of crime reduction efforts.


Focused deterrence strategies are increasingly being applied to prevent and control gang and group-involved violence, overt drug markets, and individual repeat offenders. The authors’ updated examination of the effects of focused deterrence strategies on crime followed the systematic review protocols and conventions of the Campbell Collaboration. Twenty-four quasi-experimental evaluations were identified in this systematic review. The results of the meta-analysis demonstrate that focused deterrence strategies are associated with an overall statistically significant, moderate crime reduction effect. Nevertheless, program effect sizes varied by program type and were smaller for evaluations with more rigorous research designs. The available empirical evidence suggests these strategies generate noteworthy crime reduction impacts and should be part of a broader portfolio of crime reduction strategies available to policy makers and practitioners. Investments still need to be made, however, to strengthen the overall rigor of program evaluations and improve understanding of key program activities associated with observed crime reduction impacts.

Date Published: January 1, 2018