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From Crime Mapping to Crime Forecasting: The Evolution of Place-Based Policing

NCJ Number
Joel Hunt
Date Published
July 2019
4 pages
This article reviews the evolution of crime analysis from crime mapping to crime forecasting and, in some cases, crime prediction, followed by a discussion of the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) investments in crime analysis research and its future directions.
The geographic visual display of where crime is occurring can be combined with other geographic data - such as the locations of schools, parks, and businesses - in identifying the various location features that may contribute to crime concentrations. This analysis can then be used to determine where police resources should be concentrated to reduce and prevent crime. The analysis of crime mapping over time in relation to the characteristics of places where it is concentrated facilitates statistical analyses that forecast where crimes are likely to occur in the future. This facilitates crime-prevention interventions. The history of this evolution of crime analysis is traced from 1829, when Adriano Balbi and Andre Michel Guerry produced maps to show the relationships between educational level and violent and property crime in France, to today's problem-oriented policing, Compstat, community-oriented policing, and many other variations and combinations of policing based on statistical analysis of geographic and other place-related crime factors. NIJ's critical role in this history of crime analysis has included funding for evaluations of place-based policing strategies, the establishment of the Crime Mapping Research Center to survey how police use crime mapping, and the exploration of statistical techniques and technology for forecasting crime and applying it to policing strategies. In recent years, NIJ has requested research applicants to develop and use metrics that focus on the potential impacts of police practices and strategies on individuals, neighborhoods, and communities, as well as officer safety and case outcomes.