Hot Spot Policing
Hot Spot Policing
- Cody W. TelepCody W. TelepSchool of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University
Hot spots are small geographic areas, often a single street block, that are among the highest crime locations in a particular jurisdiction. Because crime is highly concentrated, hot spots typically are responsible for a significant proportion of a city’s crime problem. Hot spot policing involves police dedicating extra attention and resources to hot spots. Hot spot policing is guided both by basic research suggesting that crime is concentrated and that it remains generally stable in concentrated areas over time and by theoretical perspectives that police can deter crime more effectively when they credibly increase the certainty of detection. Police can also block opportunities for crime to occur by providing capable guardianship at high-risk locations.
Hot spot policing can take many forms that all share in common an increased emphasis on crime hot spots. Tactics can be as simple as adding extra patrol time to hot spot locations. Unpredictable visits of approximately 15 minutes have been found to be especially effective. Police can also integrate problem-oriented policing into a hot spots framework, carefully analyzing the dynamics leading to crime concentration and then developing a tailored response to address these crime contributors. Problem-oriented hot spot tactics are generally somewhat more effective and long-lasting than approaches focused on increasing presence, although both kinds of hot spot policing have been associated with significant declines in crime and disorder relative to locations receiving standard policing. There is also little evidence that hot spot policing approaches displace crime to areas nearby or that hot spot policing necessarily damages police legitimacy, although intensive policing strategies face a greater risk of reducing trust in police. There is evidence that hot spot policing has diffused widely, particularly to large agencies, although it is difficult to track to what extent hot spot policing is occurring in the field. Although future research is needed to provide police more specific guidance on how to best address hot spots depending on crime type and context, there is overall strong evidence of effectiveness for hot spot policing, and it is likely the policing crime control strategy with the largest evidence base.