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Near-Repeat Patterns in Philadelphia Shootings

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Abstract

Research from property crime studies has identified a near-repeat phenomenon, where the risk of repeat burglary victimization is transmitted from a burgled location to nearby locations for a limited amount of time. This article explores the potential for near-repeat patterns to exist in another crime type, specifically the incidence of shootings. Using new tools developed to quantify the spatio-temporal patterns of near-repeats, a study in Philadelphia, U.S.A. finds that there are elevated patterns of near-repeat shootings within 2 weeks and one city block of previous incidents. The elevated risk of a shooting during this period is found to be 33 per cent greater than expected. It is speculated that possible reasons include coercion, retaliation and escalation. Given that the study takes place against the backdrop of a police operation to mitigate retaliatory shootings, the potential for using this information to influence crime prevention policy is discussed.

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Notes

  1. It should be noted that the expected values for Asian females before and during the Priority Corners program were slightly below the commonly accepted “safe” value of 5.

  2. These totals do not exactly match the totals for Table 1 as the police data did not record the gender of six victims before, and two victims after, the police operation.

  3. The approach we describe here has been pioneered by Johnson, Townsley, Bowers and others building on their earlier work in this area (Townsley et al., 2003; Bowers and Johnson, 2004; Johnson and Bowers, 2004a, 2004b) and to be published in forthcoming research findings as the culmination of collaborative work funded by a British Academy International Collaborative Network award.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Deputy Commissioner Patricia Giorgio-Fox of the Philadelphia Police Department for generous provision of the data and comments on an earlier draft of this paper, and Tony Luongo for his assistance with geocoding. This research was funded by a British Academy International Collaborative Network award and from the Research Incentive Fund and the Institute of Public Affairs at Temple University. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Philadelphia Police Department.

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Correspondence to Jerry H Ratcliffe.

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Ratcliffe, J., Rengert, G. Near-Repeat Patterns in Philadelphia Shootings. Secur J 21, 58–76 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.sj.8350068

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