February 10, 2013

Research by Prof. David Weisburd of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Criminology has shown that police enforcement at high crime ”hot spots” yields far less total crime than conventional patrol patterns. Now, his wide-ranging ideas are being published in a new book, The Criminology of Place: Street Segments and Our Understanding of the Crime Problem.

Weisburd received the prestigious Stockholm Prize in Criminology in 2010 for his experimental studies of hot spots policing.

His work is based on a 16-year study he did in Seattle, Washington, in which he provides the first systematic examination of the development of crime at places over time and the factors that explain trends in crime hot spots. In his Seattle study, Weisburd found that half of all Seattle crime each year occurs in just five to six percent of the city’s street segments (intersection to intersection).

In later research on Tel Aviv, Weisburd, together with his graduate student Shai Amram, demonstrated that crime in that city is similarly concentrated. Just five percent of Tel Aviv’s street segments produce 50 percent of the crime, with only about one percent of street segments producing about 25 percent of the crime. The same kind of data exists in other cities, says Weisburd.

The general study of crime has focused primarily on why particular people commit crime or why specific communities have higher crime levels than others, but Weisburd and his research associates present a new and different way of looking at the crime problem by examining why specific streets in a city have specific crime trends over time.

In Tel Aviv, as in Seattle, crime hot spots are not concentrated in a single neighborhood, and that street-by-street variability is tremendous, he says.

Weisburd says that in cities across the world, hot spots policing is beginning to be implemented. In 2011, the Israeli National Police began a hot spots policing program to deal with disorder calls to the police across the nation’s police stations.

Photo by Corky Buczyk / Shutterstock.com.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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