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Understanding and Responding to Crime and Disorder Hot Spots

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2019
35 pages

This guide instructs users in the features, identification, analysis, and police response to "hot spots," defined as small areas (e.g., addresses, single street blocks, small groups of street blocks) with high levels of crime, disorder, accidental injury, or any other matter that requires police attention.


The first section of this guide defines the meaning of hot spots, discussing why they are important and using theory to understand the kinds of locations that are likely to exhibit high activity. The guide's second section focuses on the scanning phase of addressing hot spots. This phase is completed by using data to identify or confirm the highest crime and disorder locations. The guide's third section features hot spot analysis. This involves conducting an in-depth examination of police incidents and other data sources, so as to understand why police-related incidents are clustered in a particular hot spot. This analysis assists in developing an appropriate response tailored to the underlying contributors to the problem at each location. The guide's fourth section addresses the response phase. This consists of a review of effective responses to hot spots that have been used in previous interventions, based on rigorous research into their effectiveness. The guide's final section discusses the results of previous reviews of the hot-spots policing literature and provides advice for agencies that are considering hot spots policing. 10 figures, 2 tables. 79 references, and appended supplementary material

Date Published: November 1, 2019