A place-based, data-informed, and community-engaged approach to crime prevention takes the focus off of personal characteristics and, instead, considers why certain interactions among people occur at particular places.
Offenders select the locations where they’ll commit crime, and these settings become “hot spots” because they are the most suitable places for illegal behavior over-and-over again. Hot spots persist when the contexts for crime located there are not addressed. They’re symptoms of issues that demand further inquiry.
Police and other community stakeholders must try to understand what makes problem places attractive settings for illegal behaviors. Stopping the inquiry at only where the problem persists is like documenting repeated playful behaviors at a particular place without acknowledging the presence of swings, slides, open fields, and other features that make the area attractive, and suitable, for the expected outcome of playful activity.
To prevent crime, we need to analyze why human interactions at particular places result in repeated crime outcomes. Focusing on places to prevent crime is doable with Risk Terrain Modeling and the risk narratives that form from that spatial diagnostic technique.
When crime or violence problems emerge or persist, focusing on the actual places, and the situational contexts for crime that they offer, yields lasting outcomes for prevention and safety.