Crime Prevention & Community Safety

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 7–13

What Works? A Critical Note on the Evaluation of Crime Reduction Initiatives

  • Paul Marchant
Research Article

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.cpcs.8140214

Cite this article as:
Marchant, P. Crime Prev Community Saf (2005) 7: 7. doi:10.1057/palgrave.cpcs.8140214


This article discusses the important differences between evaluating area-based crime reduction interventions through comparison of areas, and evaluating treatment effectiveness by a classic randomised controlled trial (RCT). The differences must be respected in the analysis of data. Wrong results will be given for a comparative area- based crime reduction trial if it is thought of as an RCT. The problem with evaluations which compare areas, one with an intervention and one without, is that such studies are neither randomised nor controlled, and the crime events being counted are correlated rather than statistically independent. Wrongly using those methods which are appropriate for an RCT will give misleading results. Statistical uncertainties will tend to be large and poorly determined, and statistical biases problematic because of the lack of equivalence between areas at the outset. Crime studies need to be appropriately designed to avoid such problems if costly mistakes are to be avoided.


Area crime reductionevaluationrandomised controlled trialsstatistical methodsregression towards the meanunit of observation

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Marchant
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Information Management, Leeds Metropolitan University