Crime Patterns & Prediction

Through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, NIJ has made available a final technical report, "Intra-Metropolitan Crime Patterning and Prediction". The report describes a project that, according to the abstract, "connected yearly crime counts or crime rates at the jurisdiction level across 355 jurisdictions in the Philadelphia (PA)-Camden (NJ) primary metropolitan area, for nine years (2000-2008), with yearly information on demographic fabric and police coverage in these jurisdictions."

Authors: Ralph B. Taylor, Elizabeth R. Groff, David Elesh, Lallen Johnson

Abstract:

This project connected yearly crime counts or crime rates at the jurisdiction level across 355 jurisdictions in the Philadelphia (PA)-Camden (NJ) primary metropolitan area, for nine years (2000-2008), with yearly information on demographic fabric and police coverage in these jurisdictions.

This report examines links with crime levels, links with crime changes and implications for theory, policy, and practice. Researchers focused on four connections of crime, including:

  • The size and direction of the impacts of community fabric and law enforcement coverage on crime.
  • The spatial patterning of crime and crime links.
  • The spatiotemporal patterning of crime and crime links.
  • The predictability of one- or three-year-look-ahead crime rates using the available variables.

There are three main practical implications that emerge from this research. First, demographic variables are not critical for forecasting short term crime. Relatively decent one-year, look-ahead crime rate forecasts can be constructed for both property crime and violent crime levels using just current crime. Second, crime trends in adjacent MCDs are important to consider when forecasting crime in your jurisdiction. Looking at within-MCD crime trends offers only part of the picture.

Finally, police coverage rates (sworn officers per 1,000 residents) have a deterrent impact on later unexpected property crime changes at the municipality level. Years when the coverage rate is higher are more likely to be followed the next year by a lower property crime level. At least at the jurisdiction level, funding a higher rate of police coverage translates into reduced property crime.

You can download a PDF of the report here. 

 
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