Crime Displacement and Diffusion of Crime Control Benefits: Findings From a Controlled Study

David L. Weisburd, Hebrew University/University of Maryland
John Eck, University of Cincinnati
Justin T. Ready, Police Foundation
Rosann Greenspan, University of California - Berkeley

Crime displacement and the related phenomenon of diffusion of crime control benefits are seldom a primary subject of empirical study. Most evidence about displacement and diffusion comes as a byproduct of studying something else--the direct effects of crime prevention strategies. This fact has hindered investigation of these phenomena, and has created important gaps in our understanding of the reliability of measures of displacement and diffusion. This paper presents findings from a controlled study in which police strategies were implemented within defined geographic areas (crime hot spots) during specific time periods to measure potential displacement and diffusion effects. Three areas were examined, representing property, violent and consensual crimes. Data collection included ethnographies, resident surveys, official crime data, social observations, interviews and physical observations. We report on the overall findings regarding the magnitude and types of displacement and diffusion effects observed. We also develop a model for understanding displacement and diffusion in the context of crime hot spots.

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Updated 05/20/2006