Micro Places – Gibson et al. (2017)

Study Reference:

Gibson, C., Slothower, M., & Sherman, L. W. (2017). Sweet spots for hot spots? A cost-effectiveness comparison of two patrol strategies. Cambridge Journal of Evidence-Based Policing, 1, 225-243.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Micro places; General; Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Effective

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study examined “Operation Reddleman,” a targeted patrol strategy deployed in the night-time economy (NTE) areas of Liverpool, UK, known for high levels of alcohol-related crime and disorder. This intervention aimed to assess whether reduced but regular patrol frequency in hot spots could be as effective as the continuous, random patrol strategy. The operation involved four uniformed officers (one Sergeant and three Constables) and was conducted during peak crime hours from midnight to 4 am on weekend nights, spanning a six-week period from mid-April to May 2016.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The intervention was evaluated using a quasi-experimental design with five pairs of matched hot spots. Treatment hot spots received a patrol dosage of 12 to 15 minutes per hour over the 4-hour period of Operation Reddleman each night, while control hot spots maintained the standard patrol. Police presence was monitored using GPS trackers on police radios to measure dosage levels. Crime and calls for service data were collected and compared against a baseline period from the previous year.

What were the key findings?

The operation led to a reduction in patrol times by about 35% in the treatment hot spots without a substantial increase in crime and disorder. Total offenses and violent offenses decreased in both sets of areas, with the latter declining more in the treatment areas (79% versus 69%). Calls for service also declined 61% in treatment areas. Although some of these crimes may have been displaced to nearby areas, there was no reduction in calls for service for the control hot spots. Furthermore, the intermittent patrol strategy yielded significant cost savings, estimated at 40%, by efficiently reallocating police time.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

The study demonstrates that strategic, targeted police patrols can effectively deter crime with fewer resources, supporting a more efficient allocation of police efforts. This approach corroborates other studies advocating for focused patrols in crime hot spots. The authors recommend that further studies be conducted to provide more evidence on the effects of reduced patrol dosages, especially in different kinds of hot spots and over long periods.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?