Street-level drug law enforcement: An updated systematic review


The Global Policing Database is used to update a 2007 systematic review of the impact of street-level law enforcement interventions on drug crime and drug-related calls-for-service. A total of 26 studies (reported in 29 documents) were eligible for this updated review. Eighteen of the 26 studies reported sufficient data to calculate effect sizes.

We find that, overall, street-level policing approaches are effective in reducing drug crime, particularly those involving partnerships. We also find that geographically targeted law enforcement interventions are more effective in reducing drug crime than standard, unfocused approaches. Approaches that target larger problem areas for intervention are more effective for reducing drug crime (but not calls-for-service) than approaches that focus on micro problem places.


URLs correct as at February 2024

Adda J, McConnell B, & Rasul I 2014a. Crime and the depenalisation of cannabis possession: Evidence from a policing experiment.  Centre for Economic Policy Research discussion paper no. 9914.

Adda J, McConnell B & Rasul I 2014b. Crime and the depenalisation of cannabis possession: Evidence from a policing experiment. Journal of Political Economy 122(5): 1130–1202. DOI: 10.1086/676932

Cameron A, Kolodinski E, May H & Williams N 2008. Measuring the effects of video surveillance on crime in Los Angeles. Californian Research Bureau, University of Southern California: School of Policy Planning and Development

Child and Family Policy Center 1999. Des Moines Weed and Seed evaluation: Final report. Des Moines: The Child and Family Policy Center

Choate DE 2006. Kino Weed and Seed Coalition: A process and impact evaluation of a local Weed and Seed community site in Tucson, Arizona. Phoenix, Arizona: Centre for Violence Prevention and Community Safety

Connell NM, Miggans K & McGloin JM 2008. Can a community policing initiative reduce serious crime? A local evaluation. Police Quarterly 11(2): 127–150. DOI: 10.1177/1098611107306276

Corsaro N 2013. The High Point Drug Market Intervention: Examining impact across target areas and offense types. Victims & Offenders 8(4): 416–445. DOI: 10.1080/15564886.2013.814613

Corsaro N & McGarrell E 2009. An evaluation of the Nashville Drug Market Initiative (DMI) pulling levers strategy. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University

Corsaro N, Brunson RK, Gau J & Oldham C 2011. The Peoria pulling levers drug market intervention: A review of program process, changes in perceptions, and crime impact. Report submitted to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Dover, Delaware: Delaware Statistical Analysis Center

Fritsch E, Caeti TJ & Taylor R 1999. Gang suppression through saturation patrol, aggressive curfew, and truancy enforcement: A quasi-experimental test of the Dallas Anti-Gang initiative. Crime and Delinquency 45(1): 122–139

Green L 1996. Policing places with drug problems: Drugs, health, and social policy series: Volume 2. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications

Harris RJ & O'Connell JP 1994. Eastside Substance Abuse Awareness Program evaluation. Dover, Delaware: Delaware Statistical Analysis Center

Harris RJ, O’Connell JP & Wilhite S 2005. Evaluation of Operation Weed & Seed in Wilmington, Delaware: 2001 to 2004 (document no. 10-02-08 05-07-06). Delaware: US Department of Justice

Higgins D F & Coldren JR 2000. Evaluating gang and drug house abatement in Chicago. Chicago, Illinois: Criminal Justice Authority

Higginson A & Mazerolle L 2014. Legitimacy policing of places: The impact on crime and disorder. Journal of Experimental Criminology 10(4): 429–457. DOI: 10.1007/s11292-014-9215- 6

Higginson A & Neville R 2014. SysReview [systematic review management software]. Brisbane: University of Queensland

Higginson A, Eggins E, Mazerolle L & Stanko E 2015. Global Policing Database [database and protocol].

La Vigne NG, Lowry SS, Markman JA & Dwyer AM 2011. Evaluating the use of public surveillance cameras for crime control and prevention. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

Lawton BA, Taylor RB & Luongo AJ 2005. Police officers on drug corners in Philadelphia, drug crime, and violent crime: Intended, diffusion, and displacement impacts. Justice Quarterly 22(4): 427–451. DOI: 10.1080/07418820500364619

Malm AE 2006. Marijuana cultivation in British Columbia: Using spatial and social network analysis techniques to inform evidence-based policy and planning (Doctoral thesis). Simon Fraser University, Canada.

Malm AE & Tita GE 2006. A spatial analysis of green teams: A tactical response to marijuana production in British Columbia. Policy Sciences 39(4): 361–377. DOI: 10.1007/sll077-006-9029- 0

Mazerolle L, Eggins E, Higginson A & Stanko B 2017. Evidence-based policing as a disruptive innovation: The Global Policing Database as a disruption tool. In J Knotsson & L Tompson (eds), Advances in evidence-based policing. London, UK: Routledge: 117–138

Mazerolle L, Price J & Roehl J 2000. Civil remedies and drug control: A randomised field trial in Oakland, California. Evaluation Review 24(2): 212–241

Mazerolle L, Soole DW & Rombouts S 2007. Street-level drug law enforcement: A meta-analytic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews 3(1): 1–47.

McCabe JE 2009. The narcotics initiative: An examination of the NYPD approach to drug enforcement, 1995-2001. Criminal Justice Policy Review 20(2): 170–187. DOI: 10.1177/0887403408327919

McConnell BI 2015. Essays on the economics of crime and criminal sentencing (Doctoral thesis). University College London, UK.

Nunn S, Quinet K, Rowe K & Christ D 2006. Interdiction day: Covert surveillance operations, drugs, and serious crime in an inner-city neighbourhood. Police Quarterly 9(1): 73–99. DOI: 10.1177/1098611105274467

O’Connell J, Perkins M & Zepp J 2004. Weed and Seed crime pattern data analysis. Washington, DC: Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice

Piza EL, Caplan JM, Kennedy L W & Gilchrist AM 2015. The effects of merging proactive CCTV monitoring with directed police patrol: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Experimental Criminology 11(1): 43–69. DOI: 10.1007/s11292-014-9211-x

Ritter A, McLeod R & Shanahan M 2013. Government drug policy expenditure in Australia - 2009/10 (Drug Policy Modelling Program Monograph no. 24). Sydney, NSW: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

Robinson JB 2008. Measuring the impact of a targeted law enforcement initiative on drug sales. Journal of Criminal Justice 36(1): 90–101. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2007.12.003

Roman CG, Cahill M, Coggeshall M, Lagerson E & Courtney S 2005. The Weed and Seed initiative and crime displacement in South Florida: An examination of spatial displacement associated with crime control initiatives and the redevelopment of public housing. Washington, DC: Urban Institute, Justice Policy Centre

Saunders J, Lundberg R, Braga AA, Ridgeway G & Miles J 2015. A synthetic control approach to evaluating place-based crime interventions. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 31(3): 413–434. DOI: 0.1007/s10940-014-9226–5

Shoaf LC 2005. Evaluation of the Akron Weed and Seed Program: 2000–2004. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services

Telep CW & Hibdon J 2018. Community crime prevention in high-crime areas: The Seattle neighbourhood group hot spots project. City & Community 17(4): 1143–1167. DOI: 10.1111/cico.12342

Weisburd D & Green L 1995. Policing drug hot spots: The Jersey City Drug Market Analysis Experiment. Justice Quarterly 12(4): 711–735

Weisburd D & Majmundar MK (eds) 2018. Proactive policing: Effects on crime and communities. Washington, DC: National Academies Press