Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Conclusion

This guide introduced the idea of crime displacement and its opposite, diffusion of benefits, and explored their implications for problem-oriented policing projects. Although it is possible that some displacement will occur in the aftermath of the implementation of problem-led responses, it is equally likely that diffusion of benefits will occur. Approaching your project with an understanding of displacement and diffusion effects will allow you to more carefully assess the impact of your problem-solving efforts, and the measurement techniques presented in this guide will allow you to compare any displacement and diffusion effects in relation to the gains achieved by your response.

The numbers from your measurements can be used as an indicator of displacement and diffusion effects, but overall determinations of whether your project was worthwhile when displacement is present are up to you. This is because of the inherent difficulty of comprehensively gauging all of the potential costs and consequences of a project on the community. There may be instances where the level of displacement is less than the reductions achieved by the response but the costs (both financial and intangible) involved in accomplishing those reductions along with the observed displacement levels make the project unsuccessful. It should also be recognized that even when all of the principles discussed here are used, the information regarding displacement and diffusion that is produced should be taken as a general understanding rather than an absolute assessment of displacement and diffusion effects. This is also because of the complexity of fully gauging all possible movements of crime and problem behavior.

Incorporating the concepts of displacement and diffusion into your approach to problem-oriented policing prepares you for it, should it occur. It also allows you to respond to those who may criticize your efforts with claims of the inevitability of displacement. In some cases, such as for small scale problem-solving efforts, it may be sufficient to assess displacement and diffusion effects at face value without a more intricate determination provided by the approach described in this guide. However, for large scale problem-solving projects where much is at stake, the analytical approach and measurements presented here are instrumental in ascertaining the role of displacement and diffusion in your project. In either case, attention to displacement and diffusion should be central to your problem-solving activities.