Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 347-374

First online:

Spatial displacement and diffusion of benefits among geographically focused policing initiatives: a meta-analytical review

  • Kate J. BowersAffiliated withDepartment of Security and Crime Science, University College London Email author 
  • , Shane D. JohnsonAffiliated withDepartment of Security and Crime Science, University College London
  • , Rob T. GueretteAffiliated withSchool of International and Public Affairs, Florida International University
  • , Lucia SummersAffiliated withDepartment of Security and Crime Science, University College London
  • , Suzanne PoyntonAffiliated withDepartment of Security and Crime Science, University College London

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To undertake a systematic review of the extent to which geographically focused policing initiatives appear to displace crime (simply relocate it to other places) or diffuse benefits (lead to reductions elsewhere).


Evaluation research which assessed whether such schemes may have led to displacement or diffusion of benefit to nearby areas was identified, obtained and coded. Research reports were assessed in terms of their methodological rigor and the quantitative estimates of outcomes collected. A hierarchy for estimates of displacement was established. For 16 studies, meta-analysis was used to produce a collection of results that had two sets of outcome information in terms of effect sizes (the success of the intervention and the extent to which it may have caused displacement or diffusion).


The main findings of the meta-analysis suggested that on average geographically focused policing initiatives for which data were available were (1) associated with significant reductions in crime and disorder, and (2) that, overall, changes in catchment areas were non-significant but there was a trend in favor of a diffusion of benefit.


The results demonstrate that in the case of geographically focused police efforts, displacement is far from inevitable, and in fact, on balance, that the opposite, a diffusion of crime control benefits, appears to be the more likely outcome. This in turn demonstrates that such endeavors on average have an overall reductive impact on crime.


Diffusion of benefits Displacement Evaluation Focused policing initiatives Meta-analysis