The Impact Of Crime Prevention

analytical Essay
1131 words
1131 words

An enduring debate exists in law enforcement regarding its true impact. Some agree while others disagree that the primary impact is displacement and diffusion of criminal activity when crime prevention efforts are used. The following discussion takes a closer look at this debate.
The diffusion of benefits theory suggests that crime prevention efforts in an area can effect a decrease in crime because the efforts will discourage and deter the offender. (Clark & Weisburd 1994). As such, it is believed that increasing the level of enforcement will deter offenders from committing crimes because the risk is perceived to be too great.
As the neighborhood liaison officer assigned to the Avondale community in the City of Cincinnati in May 2007, I personally experienced diffusion of benefits. Several locations in this neighborhood had been deemed hot spots because of crime, disorder and drug activity. Using the SARA model, I coordinated with other City Departments as well as the Vice and Vortex units to concentrate on code enforcement relative to litter, illicit drugs, and blight. Once the enforcement initiative began, multiple arrests were made for open air drug activity. After about two weeks, the offenders had disappeared from street corners not only at the target area but several streets surrounding the target location. It simply became too risky for them to openly sell drugs. Consequently, part 1 crimes were reduced by 42%. The citizens of Avondale were happy to see all the initiatives taking place in the neighborhood, but more importantly--they did not see anyone standing on the corner selling drugs.
Those who oppose the theory of diffusion of benefits would argue that displacement, not diffusion, occurs when crime initi...

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...ot spot study demonstrated a decrease in nuisance and drug calls for service and that there was no displacement within two blocks of the enforcement area. Braggs’ (2001, 2005, 2007) study on hot spots, on the other hand, shows several hot spot locations not showing any significant displacement after treatment. These locations also exhibited diffusion of benefits.
In summary, numerous studies do not report displacement and diffusion as major problems. More studies have exposed empirical results for displacement, however, than for diffusion. Regardless, when offenders do not know how far police initiatives are spread, curtailment of their routine activities seems to clearly indicate evidence of diffusion. Moreover, according to qualitative data, offenders can never be sure whether enforcement is a one-time or continual initiative (Weisberg & Green, 1995).

In this essay, the author

  • Defines temporary displacement as when the offender decides to change the time he commits the crime as the result of prevention efforts in order to avoid detection.
  • Explains that spatial displacement describes when prevention efforts drive the offender to look for suitable targets away from the enforcement area.
  • Explains that target displacement occurs when offenders decide to seek out targets which they normally wouldn't.
  • Analyzes how tactical displacement explains how offenders change their mode of operation based on perceived risks or rewards.
  • Explains that offence displacement describes how an offender may cease to view a particular crime as lucrative or worth the effort and find other crimes that they perceive to be more appealing.
  • Argues that the diffusion of benefits theory is based on the assumption that offenders are determined to commit crime because of their economic situation and/or personal values.
  • Explains that offender displacement helps offenders conform to the law after being arrested. they argue that benign displacement can create valuable benefits by causing crime to shift out to a larger demographic area.
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