Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 317-342

First online:

Hot spots policing and crime prevention: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials

  • Anthony A. BragaAffiliated withProgram in Criminal Justice Policy and Management of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University Email author 

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Crime scholars and practitioners have argued that police actions should be focused on high-risk crime places rather than spread thinly across the urban landscape. This review examines five randomized controlled trials of the effects of concentrating police enforcement efforts on crime hot spots. The findings of these evaluations suggest that focused police actions can prevent crime and disorder in crime hot spots. A meta-analysis of the effect sizes from the five experiments reveals a statistically significant mean effect size for hot spots policing interventions; this suggests overall reductions in citizen calls for service in the treatment hot spots relative to the control hot spots. These studies also suggest that focused police actions at specific locations do not necessarily result in crime displacement. Although these evaluations reveal that these programs work in preventing crime, additional research is needed to unravel other important policy-relevant issues such as community reaction to focused police enforcement efforts.

Key words

crime prevention experiment hot spots meta-analysis police systematic review