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Spatial Analyses of Crime

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2000
50 pages
This chapter provides an illustrative context for its main focus, i.e., spatial statistical analyses of crime data, with emphasis on pragmatic concerns about how these analyses are best implemented.
The new century brings with it increasing interest in crime places. This interest spans theory from the perspective of understanding the etiology of crime, as well as practice from the perspective of developing effective criminal justice interventions to reduce crime. The authors do not attempt a comprehensive treatment of the substantial body of theoretical and empirical research on place and crime but focus instead on methodological issues in spatial statistical analyses of crime data. Special attention is given to some practical and accessible methods of exploratory data analysis that arguably should be the starting place of any empirical analyses of the relationship of place to crime. Many of the capabilities to support computerized mapping and spatial statistical analyses emerged only recently during the 1990's. The promise of using spatial data and analyses for crime control still remains to be demonstrated and depends on the nature of the relationship between crime and place. If spatial features serve as actuating factors for crime, because of either the people or the facilities located there, then interventions designed to alter those persons and activities might well affect crime. Alternatively, if the spatial distribution of crime is essentially random, then targeting specific places is not likely to be an effective crime-control strategy. Sorting out the place/crime relationship requires analytical methods that are best suited to isolating the impacts of place on crime. 1 exhibit, 39 notes, and 201 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000