Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 393–417 | Cite as

Citizens’ reactions to hot spots policing: impacts on perceptions of crime, disorder, safety and police

  • Jerry H. RatcliffeEmail author
  • Elizabeth R. Groff
  • Evan T. Sorg
  • Cory P. Haberman



We explore whether the use of foot patrol, problem-oriented policing and offender-focused policing at violent crime hot spots negatively impacted the community’s perceptions of crime and disorder, perceived safety, satisfaction with police and their perceptions of procedural justice.


We report on a repeated cross-sectional survey that was mailed before and after the deployment of concentrated police interventions in 60 small areas of Philadelphia, PA, as part of the Philadelphia Policing Tactics Experiment. Eighty-one violent crime hot spots were randomly allocated to one of three treatments (20 each), or to a control assignment (21). Impacts on the community via seven scales were analyzed using OLS models with orthogonal contrast-coded treatment variables and demographic covariates.


The OLS models estimating changes in the community’s opinions from pre- to post-intervention uncovered no statistically significant changes on any of the dependent variables relative to control locations, irrespective of the treatment type. Even though one experimental treatment condition (offender-focused) reported statistically significant violent crime reductions, the police activity that generated the crime reduction did not noticeably change community perceptions of crime and disorder, perceived safety, satisfaction with police or procedural justice.


As implemented in Philadelphia, none of the policing tactics had measurable changes in resident perception within the communities that were targeted. The results do not support the suggestion that hot spots policing negatively impacts the community. At the same time, no positive benefits were generated.


Hot spots policing Foot patrol Problem-oriented policing Offender-focused policing Community survey Procedural justice Crime 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerry H. Ratcliffe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth R. Groff
    • 1
  • Evan T. Sorg
    • 1
  • Cory P. Haberman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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