Refresher: Hot Spot Policing

We know that crime is incredibly concentrated: research studies in multiple jurisdictions continue to find that about 50% of a city’s serious crime is located at less than 5% of its addresses. Hot Spot Policing refers to a general strategy of targeting crime concentrations with police resources.

Note: The term “hot spots policing” does not point to a specific tactic. A “hot spot” approach can be applied to many strategies and simply means that a strategy is targeted to a specific place that has high levels of persistent crime problems. However, what police do at hot spots matters to both their ability to prevent crime and their ability to maintain citizen trust and confidence. General visibility at crime hot spots may have some effect on deterring crime, but problem solving approaches at crime hot spots may have greater long-term effects. Some strategies that have been used at hot spots in the past have led to negative community reaction.

There is no agreement on what the size of hot spots should be. However, successful interventions tend to target locations that are much smaller than neighborhoods—they are often specific addresses, street blocks, intersections, alleys, floors/sections of a high-rise building, a section of a mall, certain places within a school or airport, or a section of a park.

Strategies that target hot spots are more likely to be effective.

For more on Hot Spot Policing, see this handy summary.

In an effort to provide helpful suggestions in areas that have not yet been fully studied or evaluated, we have included ideas for responses and activities that may not yet be considered evidence-based or evidence-informed. Therefore, not all actions and strategies included within this App are evidence-based or evidence-informed.