There are several things you should consider during the formulation of your POP project as it relates to displacement and diffusion. This guide contains only a general description of displacement and diffusion. Because displacement and diffusion take various forms as they relate to different problems and locations, you need to combine the basic concepts of displacement and diffusion with a more specific understanding of the problem your project will address. A thorough analysis of your local problem will help you more accurately predict the likelihood of displacement or diffusion and accommodate it in your response strategy. Use the problem analysis triangle† to help you understand your displacement potential.
† For a discussion of the problem-analysis triangle, see step 8 of Clarke and Eck's (2005) Crime Analysis for Problem Solvers in 60 Small Steps.
To assess the possibility of displacement and diffusion effects, it is important to understand the characteristics of the offenders your response will involve. Generally, you need to know how offenders benefit from the problem behavior and whether they are opportunistic or driven by stronger motivations. You also need to identify any individuals or organizations that could control offenders’ actions (e.g., handlers). Knowing about handlers helps you better assess the likelihood that offenders will displace their problem behavior to other times and places in addition to helping you identify potential responses to the problem. In regards to offenders, some of the questions you need to ask and answer include:
To better anticipate and determine displacement and diffusion effects, you also need to consider the location of the problem your project will target. Using the principles of when and where displacement is likely to occur discussed in the previous section, you need to analyze areas near your response zone. In doing so, seek answers to the following questions:
Understanding the victims can help prepare you for the possibility of displacement and determine the impact of your project in the assessment phase. You need to know who the victims are, why they are victims, and the harms they incur. With regard to victims, seek answers to the following questions:
† To learn more about determining the extent of repeat victimization, see the Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Problem-Solving Tools Series No. 4 entitled, Analyzing Repeat Victimization.
To answer the above questions, you need to gather information from a variety of sources. It is better to collect information from multiple sources because it increases the accuracy and breadth of your understanding. In some instances displacement or diffusion may fall outside your jurisdiction. In these cases it may be useful to collaborate with other departments (such as acquiring data from them) to fully gauge displacement or diffusion effects. Following are some information sources that could be useful in understanding your displacement potential:
Once you develop an in-depth understanding of your displacement potential, you can better predict the likelihood of it occurring, the types that might occur, and where it is likely to go. This understanding allows you to accommodate the possibility of displacement in forming your response and makes it easier for you to evaluate the influence of displacement and diffusion effects during the assessment of your project.
To carry out your analysis you need to identify the area or boundaries within which your response is targeted (i.e., response area), an area to examine for the presence of displacement or diffusion (i.e., diffusion/displacement area), and a third untouched area to compare (i.e., control area) any changes observed in both the response area and the displacement/diffusion area. Focus your analysis on the various forms of displacement and allow enough time from the point at which the response was implemented for it to appear. Displacement may not occur immediately following the implementation of the response but may gradually emerge as time passes.
In conducting your analysis you need to identify the volume, severity, and harm of any displacement effects and measure these relative to the gains achieved by your response. If your project does not result in any reductions in the targeted area, there is no need to analyze for displacement or diffusion effects. Your analysis can help refine subsequent cycles of the scanning, analysis, response, and assessment (SARA) process or facilitate a second problem-solving project. The steps involved in the analyses should include:
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