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Targeting Crime in Hot Spots and Hot Places

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2008
4 pages
After defining "hot spots" ("areas with a greater than average number of criminal or disorder events or higher than average risk of victimization"), this article describes tools police can use to identify and analyze hot spots, followed by a discussion of theories for countering hot-spot crime.
Crime analysts work with crime incident data to find and analyze hot spots. They often use geographic-information-systems (GIS) software in order to create crime maps that assist in visualizing where various types of crime are occurring in a police department's jurisdiction. GIS and related mapping and analysis tools have progressed to include sophisticated statistics software that allows the rigorous analysis of crime hot spots. In addition to statistical analysis, researchers use spatial analysis to design problem solving approaches intended to reduce crime and disorder in targeted geographic spaces. Theories relevant to the development of strategies for countering crime linked to hot spots include routine activity theory, social disorganization theory, broken windows theory, and crime opportunity theories. These theories are used to explain why certain geographic areas of a jurisdiction pose more risk for various types of crime compared to other areas. Concluding sections of this article describe the creation of "density maps," which show crime rates as they vary continuously across space without boundaries, and the use of statistical tests to find hot spots. The latter tests assist in identifying where crime occurs in patterns rather than randomly. 3 references and 4 notes

Date Published: February 1, 2008