Displacement of Crime or Diffusion of Crime

TASA ID: 10544

In the concept of Crime Prevention through Environmental Design, also known as CPTED (pronounced SEP-Ted), created more than 60 years ago by Tim Crowe, I believe the purpose is to be proactive regarding crime issues. I was in a training program five years ago when someone in the audience asked, “On a street close to my campus, we have drug dealers and hookers. How do I get rid of them?” The lecturer couldn't answer the question, but I knew the answer. 

Think about it, you work at a local store where drug dealers and sexual deviants are prevalent outside of your doors, maybe on a 24/7 basis. The community is upset, your boss is upset and wants something done. You have to close off the entrance to the street which is done by parking DPW trucks in front of the door’s entrance. You must stop the flow of traffic; thereby, preventing customers from buying their drug product. After a couple of days of no business, the drug dealers will move to another location. You have; therefore, just moved or displaced crime. However, you must think outside the box because each problem is different.

If crime will simply move around the corner in response to targeted police interventions at hot spots, there is little reason for carrying out hot spot policing programs. This idea that the police cannot reduce crime but can only push it to other areas has traditionally been an objection to focusing intervention programs on high crime places (Reppetto, 1976). The research evidence regarding displacement as a result of focused policing interventions in contrast suggests overall that threats of displacement are much overstated (see Braga, 2008). Indeed, studies to-date have been more likely to identify a "diffusion of crime control benefits"(Clarke & Weisburd, 1994) around targeted areas than evidence of displacement. That is, in a number of studies an unanticipated crime decline has been found in untargeted areas surrounding intervention sites.1  

Over the years, we have read a lot of material from many criminologists but we find we disagree with many of them when it comes to the displacement of crime. Ask a practitioner or someone in law enforcement if crime displacement works and they will tell you, “yes it does.”  Plus, it doesn’t just move around the corner in many cases, it totally disappears and goes away. What about the victims, and what about the increase of the fear of crime.  If an apprehension can’t be made then by all means displacement and diffusion of the hot spots is in order. Be Pro-active, not Re-active.

1 Weisburd, D., Wyckoff, L. A., Ready, J., Eck, J. E., Hinkle, J., & Gajewsk, F. (2010, September). The Police Foundation Displacement

 and Diffusion Study. Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/document/111422217/Weisburd-Et-Al-2010-The-Police-Foundation-


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