Australian Institute of Criminology

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Burglary reduction and the myth of displacement

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 232

Jerry Ratcliffe
ISBN 0 642 24270 4 ISSN 0817-8542 ; CRC 17/00-01
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, July 2002

Abstract

Burglary reduction initiatives often encounter the objection that targeted operations simply displace crime to another area. This paper examines the existing body of knowledge about spatial displacement in regard to burglary reduction initiatives and examines the results of a study undertaken to explore the displacement impact of Operation Anchorage, a burglary reduction initiative undertaken by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in Canberra in 2001. The paper describes a methodology, a Monte Carlo nearest neighbour approach, for assessing the spatial displacement of burglary, and finds that no significant displacement took place during the first weeks of Operation Anchorage, even though the AFP was able to reduce burglary by a considerable amount. The paper discusses the possible reasons for this lack of displacement, and concludes that accurately targeted, theoretically sound and evidentially based crime prevention initiatives can be successful without increasing the risk to surrounding areas.

This paper is taken from the report of research undertaken with the assistance of a grant from the Criminology Research Council.