Santa Cruz Tech Beat


The Myth of Crime Displacement

By Dr. Jeff Brantingham

This post addresses the myth of crime displacement, which simply describes the expectation that crime moves from one area to another due to police prevention efforts.

Crime Displacement Theory

Some might think that if law enforcement’s crime prevention efforts are helping to deter crime in one area, that criminals will commit those crimes elsewhere. The research shows otherwise. When data-driven patrol takes away crime opportunities, most offenders opt to not commit the crime. Studies on criminology show that criminals often offend in the places where they are most comfortable. If there is repeated police deterrence, it reduces their willingness to offend in that location. They weigh the options and much of the time, will not relocate or think of the opportunities in another location as good. Several other criminology studies disprove displacement theory – many dating as far back as 1993.

What the Research Shows about Crime Displacement

A recent, National Institute of Justice study stated that, “quantitative measures offer strong support for prior studies that show that focused crime prevention efforts are not likely to have large displacement effects to areas nearby. In this sense, crime does not seem to simply “move around the corner” as a result of hot spot policing efforts.”

Using data about where and when crimes have been committed in the past, PredPol provides patrol officers predictions that give them the best chance of denying opportunities for future crimes to occur, shift by shift.

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