Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 1103–1123 | Cite as

An Evaluation of Displacement and Diffusion Effects on Eco-Terrorist Activities After Police Interventions

  • Sue-Ming YangEmail author
  • I-Chin Jen
Original Paper



Eco-terrorist activities have caused much property damage and are considered one of the leading domestic terrorism threats. However, despite the threat posed by these activities, the possibility of spatial displacement of eco-terrorism as a result of police crackdowns has not previously been empirically examined. The current study focuses on addressing this knowledge gap by examining the displacement of radical environmental and animal rights movement terrorist activities after a successful police crackdown (i.e. Operation Backfire).


The study uses data collected from two sources: The Global Terrorism Database and the Eco-Incidents Database. To measure the extent of spatial displacement, two types of displacement statistics were used: weighted displacement quotient (WDQ) and Local Indicators of Spatial Association (LISA) statistics.


Results from WDQ analysis and LISA statistics show that the key intervention of Operation Backfire did not displace the attacks of the eco-terrorist groups. On the contrary, the law enforcement intervention effectively resulted in diffusion of benefits in adjacent areas.


Overall, the results show that traditional police tactics may be a useful way to counter eco-terrorism without leading to spatial displacement. This is important as it shows that radical environmentalists and animal rights activists may be deterred, like regular criminals, by conventional law enforcement.


Displacement Eco-terrorism Environmental Terrorism 



The research was made possible through a grant award “Eco-Terrorism and the Corresponding Legislation Efforts to Intervene and Prevent Future Attacks” from The Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security & Society (TSAS). The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of The Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security & Society (TSAS). We would like to thank David Weisburd, Joshua Hinkle, Jennifer Carson, and the anonymous reviewers whose comments were invaluable in strengthening this paper. We also want to express our gratitude to L. Caitlin Kanewske and Paige Thompson for their editing assistance and thoughtful suggestions on earlier drafts of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminology, Law and SocietyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA
  2. 2.Department of CriminologyNational Chung Cheng UniversityChiayi CountyTaiwan

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