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Predictable Policing: Measuring the Crime Control Benefits of Hotspots Policing at Bus Stops


Ariel & Partridge (2016)


Evidence suggests that hotspot policing is an effective crime prevention strategy. In this paper, we present contradictory evidence of a backfiring effect. Previous studies focused on clusters of addresses or public facilities, with police moving freely and unpredictably within the boundaries of the hotspot, but the patrol areas of officers in this experiment were limited to bus stops so offenders could anticipate their movements. Hotspots policing therefore backfires when offenders can systematically and accurately predict the temporal and spatial pattern of long-term targeting at a single location.


One-half of 102 of London's "hottest" bus stops were randomly assigned to be patrolled by double-patrol teams of Metropolitan Police Service uniformed officers. These officers were randomly assigned to patrol one of these 51 bus stops during the "hot hours"—meaning that they were physically present during its ‘peak’ moment in terms of crime opportunities. Crucially, officers were tasked to "be visible" and deter crime and anti-social behavior at the bus stops.


The remaining 51 hot spots did not receive the treatment, meaning there were no uniformed patrols during "hot hours."


1) Bus driver incident reports (DIRS) decreased significantly by 37% in the near vicinity of the bus stops, by 40% in the catchment area, and marginally and non-significantly in the farthest catchment areas, compared to control conditions. 2) In contrast, victim-generated crimes increased by 25% in the near vicinity, and by 23% and 11% within the 100-150m catchment areas, respectively.


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