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Concept Intro: Crime Hot Spots

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2017
2 pages
Intended primarily for grantees developing and implementing public-safety strategies under the model of the federal Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (BCJI), this instructional paper explains the meaning of crime "hot spots" and the relevance of this concept for planning and implementing public-safety strategies, followed by brief examples of how the hot-spots model of crime prevention has been effective in four cities.
Research consistently shows that the majority of crime in cities is concentrated in certain geographic areas, with most streets having little or no crime and a small percentage of blocks experiencing the vast majority of crime. These areas of concentrated crime are often called "hot spots."The hot spots of a city can be identified by using Geographic Information System (GIS) software in locating where crimes are occurring. Although hot spots can be a chronic problem for a community, innovative policing practices based in community partnerships have reduced crime in communities across the country. In Austin, Texas, an increased police presence in walking beats contributed to an 82-percent decrease in violent crime in one hot spot. In Detroit, Michigan, a hot spot experienced a 20-percent drop in Part 1 crimes when hot-spot community leaders increased community engagement in crime-prevention efforts. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, five hot spots in the Washington Park neighborhood had a 23-percent decrease in violent crime from 2013 to 2015 compared to a 1-percent increase in the city as a whole. This was related to targeted crime-prevention efforts. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an intervention that involved crime prevention through environmental design (surveillance cameras, signage, increased lighting, and mural replacement of graffiti) was associated with a 75-percent decrease in crime incidents in 1 year. 3 website resources