Monday, June 25, 2012

60 Steps Revisited: Step 17 - Know How Hot Spots Develop

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.


Our journey through Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers takes us to Step 17 - Know How Hot Spots Develop. With the increased use of GIS in law enforcement it becomes more common to see these tools used to determine crime "hotspots". The authors point out:
Analysts often examine hot spots by use of geography alone. This can often be a useful starting point, but to reduce or eliminate the hot spot you must look deeper to understand why it is a hot spot. Source: Crime Analysis For Problem Solvers
Just because your whiz bang software says that there is a hotspot at a particular location, this isn't necessarily the end of your work as an analyst. The authors believe you should dig a little deeper and try to determine why this is happening at this location. They list three types of situations that cause a hotspot. They are:
  • Crime generators
  • Crime attractors
  • Crime enablers
The main difference in these situations is the dynamics that cause the hotspot to occur. Is it because a large number of potential victims congregate in one place such as a shopping center? Is it because a large number of offenders tend to congregate in or near a prostitution stroll? or is it because there is a lack of effective behavioral controls at a location? In reality, a hotspot could have a combination of any of the three.

Hit the link to read the definitions. Also important is the chart at the bottom with suggested strategies should you make a determination of the situation(s) that led to your hotspot.

Next time we'll cover Step 18 - Learn If The 80 - 20 Rule Applies.

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