Security Journal

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 423–441 | Cite as

Hotspots of corruption: Applying a problem-oriented policing approach to preventing corruption in the public sector

  • Louise E PorterEmail author
  • Adam Graycar
Original Article


Some places have no crime and some have a lot, and thus we study hotspots. Corruption is structured differently to crime, but hotspots still are notable. The difference is that hotspots are not places but clusters of activity. This article analyses corruption cases from New York City to explore a way of identifying such clusters. Seventy-two cases were coded according to features that represent the elements of the crime triangle: offender and motivation, target and opportunity, and place and ability. Multidimensional scaling revealed three groups of cases, exhibiting different patterns of corrupt activity. Group one involved politicians involved in high value financial corruption. Group two primarily involved supervisors who created opportunities involving procurement and contracts. Group three involved inspectors, particularly in the infrastructure sector, who were involved with low value bribes to violate regulations. Each is discussed in relation to situational crime prevention principles to develop possible strategies for prevention.


corruption prevention hotspots crime triangle multidimensional scaling 


  1. Aidt, T.S. (2003) Economic analysis of corruption: A survey. Economic Journal 113 (491): 632–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brantingham, P. and Brantingham, P. (2008) Crime pattern theory. In: R. Wortley and L. Mazerolle (eds.) Environmental Criminology and Crime Analysis. Cullompton, UK: Willan, pp. 78–93.Google Scholar
  3. Carmel-Gilfilen, C. (2013) Bridging security and good design: Understanding perceptions of expert and novice shoplifters. Security Journal 26 (1): 80–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clarke, R.V. (1997) Situational Crime Prevention – Successful Case Studies, 2nd edn. New York: Harrow and Heston.Google Scholar
  5. Clarke, R.V. and Eck, J. (2003) Become a Problem-Solving Crime Analyst. London: Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, L. and Felson, M. (1979) Social change and crime rate trends: A routine activity approach. American Sociological Review 44 (4): 588–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cornish, D.B. and Clarke, R.V. (2003) Opportunities, precipitators and criminal decisions. In: M.S.a.D. Cornish (ed.) Crime Prevention Studies. Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press, p. 16.Google Scholar
  8. de Sousa, L. (2010) Anti-corruption agencies: Between empowerment and irrelevance. Crime Law and Social Change 53 (1): 5–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. de Speville, B. (2010) Overcoming Corruption: The Essentials. Richmond, UK: de Speville & Associates.Google Scholar
  10. Della Porta, D. and Vannucci, A. (2012) The Hidden Order of Corruption: An Institutional Approach. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  11. Ede, A., Homel, R. and Prenzler, T. (2002a) Situational corruption prevention. In: T. Prenzler and J. Ransley (eds.) Police Reform: Building Integrity. Sydney, Australia: Hawkins Press, pp. 210–225.Google Scholar
  12. Ede, A., Homel, R. and Prenzler, T. (2002b) Reducing complaints against police and preventing misconduct: A diagnostic study using hot spot analysis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology 35 (1): 27–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Friedrich, C.J. (1972) The Pathology of Politics: Violence, Betrayal, Corruption, Secrecy, and Propaganda. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  14. Graycar, A. and Prenzler, T. (2013) Understanding and Preventing Corruption. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Graycar, A. and Sidebottom, A. (2012) Corruption and control: A corruption reduction approach. Journal of Financial Crime 19 (4): 384–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Graycar, A. and Villa, D. (2011) The loss of governance capacity through corruption. Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions 24 (3): 419–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Guttman, R. and Greenbaum, C.W. (1998) Facet theory: Its development and current status. European Psychologist 3: 13–36.Google Scholar
  18. Johnson, S.D. and Bowers, K.J. (2004) The burglary as clue to the future: The beginnings of prospective hot-spotting. European Journal of Criminology 1 (2): 237–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Johnston, M. (2005) Syndromes of Corruption: Wealth, Power, and Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Key, V.O. (1958) Politics, Parties, and Pressure Groups. New York: Crowell.Google Scholar
  21. Klitgaard, R., Maclean-Abaroa, R. and Parris, H.L. (2000) Corrupt Cities: A Practical Guide to Cure and Prevention. Oakland, CA: ICS Press.Google Scholar
  22. New York City. (2010) City of New York Department of Investigation: Our Mission. Retrieved from
  23. Piquero, N.L. and Albanese, J. (2011) The relationship between corruption and financial crime. In: A. Graycar and R.G. Smith (eds.) Handbook of Global Research and Practice in Corruption. Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar, pp. 189–202.Google Scholar
  24. Porter, L.E. and Warrender, C. (2009) A multivariate model of police deviance: Examining the nature of corruption, crime and misconduct. Policing and Society 19 (1): 79–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ratcliffe, J.H., Taniguchi, T., Groff, E.R. and Wood, J. (2011) The Philadelphia foot patrol experiment: A randomized controlled trial of police patrol effectiveness in violent crime hotspots. Criminology 49: 795–831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rose-Ackerman, S. (1975) The economics of corruption. Journal of Public Economics 4 (2): 187–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rose-Ackerman, S. (1999) Corruption and Government: Causes, Consequences and Reform. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Transparency International. (2010) Frequently Asked Questions About Corruption. Berlin, Germany: Transparency International.Google Scholar
  29. Uslaner, E.M. (2008) Corruption, Inequality, and the Rule of Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Werner, M.R. (1932) Tammany Hall. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran.Google Scholar
  31. Zimring, F.E. and Johnson, D.T. (2005) On the comparative study of corruption. British Journal of Criminology 45 (6): 793–809.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security, Griffith UniversityQueenslandAustralia
  2. 2.Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University

Personalised recommendations