August 3, 2018 in Research
Crime Prevention

Define the various types of displacement

Problem-oriented-policing (POP) and situational crime prevention (SCP) models aim to understand the underlying problem of crime. Response to eradicate crime is structured based on the underlying problem. Opponents of this crime solving approach criticize saying it does not address the root causes and offenders are moving freely in the society. According to them, crime is simply relocated, and this phenomenon is called crime displacement. Crime displacement has different types, which are temporal, spatial, target, tactical, and offense (Guerrete, 2009). Temporal displacement is the replacement of time; spatial is an address change of crime; crime target change is objective displacement; methods and tactics changes are tactical displacement, and switch from one crime to another is offense displacement. When the damages produced by crime is less than what existed before POP and SCP intervention are called beneficial displacement (Understanding Crime Displacement). Beneficial displacement may take place in several ways: less serious offenses; offense is transferred away from vulnerable groups; crimes are reduced in volume than before intervention. Displacement can also lead to dangerous crimes, which are called “malign displacement”. It is manifested through crime increase in volume at adjacent areas; a shift to more serious crime; relocation of crime to a community where the effect is greater (Understanding Crime Displacement).

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Define diffusion of benefits

Diffusion of crime prevention benefits is opposite to the displacement.  It defines reduction of those crimes, which were not targeted in the intervention.  In a POP project when any level of diffusion is observed, the response benefit effects are amplified. Diffusion of benefits has similar forms like displacement: temporal, spatial, tactical, target, and offense. Target and spatial diffusion take place when areas close to intervention area also experience a reduction in crime. Temporal diffusion can be observed when reduction in crime declines in those times which were not under intervention time list. Diffusion can be characterized in two different types: deterrence and discouragement. Both types deal with the offender’s perception, the psychological side of offender’s intention. Deterrence relates to offender’s perception that the response has created an increase in risk of apprehension. Discouragement relates to offender’s belief that the police involvement has increased in the amount of effort required to commit a crime, while reward has not increased. Thus, the ratio of effort and reward is considered unfavorable for committing the crime (Makkai and Ratcliffe, 2004). This can occur regardless of risk of apprehension or modification in the actual effort and reward structure.

Theoretical support or non-support 

The supporters of crime displacement ascertain that displacement is inevitable in the aftermath of POP intervention. This opinion is largely based on suppositions and beliefs that POP and SCP do not prevent crime, and all they do move crime around. Displacement theory assumes that offenders are inclined to commit crime regardless of impediments they face. The displacement proponents explain criminal mind through psychological appetite to commit crimes. They explain that the propensity to commit crime builds up in an offender’s criminal mind, and the offender must discharge it. On the other hand, evidences show that people make choices about committing a crime than to satiate psychological craving. The displacement assumption neglects the crucial role of temptation and opportunity in crime (Don’t be discouraged…). According to researches, crime displacement is the exception rather than the rule. The displacement theory claims that the offenders remain free in the society, and their propensity to crime is the determining factor. This might be right, but displacement theory entirely ignores the importance of opportunity. This does no way means that the opponents should ignore the displacement theory. Indeed POP model must anticipate that offenders will displace the crime when benefits overweigh costs. On the other hand, there are ample of existing evidences of diffusion of crime benefits.  For example, (Don’t be discouraged….):

  • Intensive gun patrols reduced firearms crimes in high gun-crime neighborhoods without displacing to nearby communities,
  • Target hardening in Australian banks lowered robbery rates without displacing to adjacent stores, gas stations, shop, motels etc.,
  • Vehicle tracking systems reduced overall car theft, thus, people who did not install also benefited from the response,
  • Red light camera installations at certain intersections brought benefit to adjacent intersections that did not install the cameras.

Empirical support or non-support

Guerette (2009) and Bowers conducted more than 200 evaluations of SCP measures, of them 102 cases showed displacements and diffusion effects. These effects were categorized by spatial, offence, target, tactical, and temporal types, which constituted 574 different events. The analysis of these events demonstrated 26 percent displacement trend and 27 percent diffusion trend (Guerette, 2009). The research suggested that temporal displacement is 36 percent, followed by 33 percent target. The offence, spatial, and tactical displacement types respectively are 26 percent, 23 percent, and 22 percent.  Spatial diffusion occurred 37 percent of the time, followed by 24 percent target.  Offence and temporal diffusions occurred 16 percent of the time while tactical occurred 12 percent of the time (Guerrete, 2009). Weed and Seed program in Miami detected spatial diffusion occurred more frequently than spatial displacement (Understanding Crime Displacement). This confirms the theoretical analysis that offenders of adjacent areas become concerned about the POP response. The New Deal for Communities program in the UK among 383 buffer zones observed spatial diffusion in 23 percent zones while spatial displacement in 2 percent zones. Across the buffer zone, between 21 and 25 percent areas showed diffusion compared to 0 to 5 percent displacement areas. (Understanding Crime Displacement).


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