Wednesday, June 13, 2012

60 Steps Revisited: Step 12 - Don't Be Discouraged By The Displacement Doomsters

Back in 2009, I did a series of posts covering the excellent book Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers. The book is published by the US DOJ's Problem Oriented Policing Center (POP Center). Because of the value I think this book has for crime analysts, and policing in general, I am going to re-post this series on here on the blog.

Every workplace has them, those people who always see the glass as half empty as opposed to half full. In this step in our journey through Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers, we'll tackle the naysayers in Step 12 - Don't Be Discouraged By The Displacement Doomsters.

You've probably heard the argument before, if you work to reduce the opportunity to commit a particular type of crime, "all you are going to do is move it to another place". In fact you can substitute 'other place' with another time, another crime, etc. All these are types of displacement. In fact the authors, state there are five types of displacement:
  1. Crime is moved from one place to another (geographical).
  2. Crime is moved from one time to another (temporal).
  3. Crime is directed away from one target to another (target).
  4. One method of committing crime replaces another (tactical).
  5. One kind of crime is substituted for another (crime type). Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers
The problem with this is that it isn't always true. Even if it was, can we afford to give up on trying to reduce crime due to the fear that the crimes will move to another neighborhood, or another time? In any case, displacement naysayers assume that all offenders "compelled to commit crime, whatever impediments they face". But this isn't always the case if it were, no criminal would ever go straight and in spite of our often jaded perceptions, there are many who do give up their criminal ways.
This does not mean that we can ignore displacement. Indeed, rational choice theory predicts that offenders will displace when the benefits for doing so outweigh the costs. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers
When we work on solutions to persistent crime problems, we should factor this Rational Choice Theory Cost/Benefit ratio into our study of the problem. The good thing for us is that as a whole criminals are lazy. This probably is the reason they are a crook in the first place. It probably doesn't take that much to make the cost outweigh the benefit.
Displacement is usually limited because offenders have difficulty adapting quickly. If they do make changes they are most likely to change to places, times, targets, methods, and crime types that are similar to those the prevention program blocks because these are the easiest changes for them to make. This suggests that displacement can be predicted by anticipating the easiest changes for offenders to make. If there are obvious easy changes, then you should consider how to incorporate these in your prevention plan. And if you cannot include them, then you should consider monitoring them to detect possible displacement. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers
Next time we'll look at Step 13 - Expect Diffusion of Benefits.

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