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Posted: April 30th, 2020

Crime mapping as a way to map, visualize, and analyze crime incident patterns.

Crime mapping as a way to map, visualize, and analyze crime incident patterns. `
Crime mapping is a method of mapping, visualizing, and analyzing crime incident patterns. It is a useful tool for law enforcement agencies, researchers, and policymakers to understand the spatial and temporal distribution of crime, identify crime hotspots, and evaluate the effectiveness of crime prevention and intervention strategies. Crime mapping can also help to inform the public about the level and nature of crime in their neighborhoods, and to foster community engagement and problem-solving.

Crime mapping involves collecting, geocoding, and analyzing crime data from various sources, such as police reports, victim surveys, and census data. Geocoding is the process of assigning geographic coordinates to each crime incident based on its location information, such as street address or intersection. The geocoded crime data can then be displayed on a map using different symbols, colors, or sizes to represent different types of crimes, frequencies, or rates. The map can also be overlaid with other geographic features or layers, such as roads, buildings, parks, or administrative boundaries, to provide additional context and insights.

Crime mapping can be used for various purposes, such as:

– Describing the spatial and temporal patterns of crime, such as where, when, and how often crimes occur, and how they vary by season, day of week, or time of day.
– Identifying crime hotspots, clusters, or trends, such as areas or times with high concentrations or increases of crime incidents or rates.
– Exploring the relationships between crime and other factors, such as demographic characteristics, socioeconomic conditions, land use, environmental features, or police activity.
– Evaluating the impact of crime prevention and intervention programs or policies, such as measuring the changes in crime levels or patterns before and after the implementation of a specific initiative.
– Communicating and disseminating crime information to the public, media, or stakeholders, such as providing interactive web-based maps or dashboards that allow users to access and customize the crime data according to their needs and interests.

Crime mapping has several benefits and challenges. Some of the benefits are:

– It can enhance the understanding of the complex phenomenon of crime and its spatial dynamics.
– It can support evidence-based decision making and resource allocation for crime reduction and prevention.
– It can facilitate collaboration and coordination among different agencies and sectors involved in crime prevention and response.
– It can increase transparency and accountability of law enforcement agencies and improve public trust and confidence.
– It can empower communities to participate in crime prevention and problem-solving activities.

Some of the challenges are:

– It requires reliable, accurate, timely, and consistent crime data from multiple sources.
– It involves technical skills and software tools for geocoding, mapping, and analyzing the crime data.
– It poses ethical and legal issues related to data privacy, security, access, and use.
– It may create unintended consequences or negative impacts on individuals or communities, such as stigmatization, discrimination, fear, or displacement.

Crime mapping is a valuable technique for studying and addressing crime problems. However, it should be used with caution and responsibility. Crime mapping is not a solution by itself; it is only a tool that can complement other methods and approaches. Crime mapping should be guided by clear objectives, ethical principles, sound methodologies, and appropriate interpretations. Crime mapping should also be accompanied by effective communication strategies that ensure the proper use and understanding of the crime data and maps by the intended audiences.


Chainey S., Tompson L., Uhlig S. (2008). The Utility of Hotspot Mapping for Predicting Spatial Patterns of Crime. Security Journal 21(1–2): 4–28.

Eck J.E., Chainey S., Cameron J.G., Leitner M., Wilson R.E. (2005). Mapping Crime: Understanding Hot Spots. U.S. Department of Justice.

Ratcliffe J.H. (2016). Crime Mapping: Spatial and Temporal Challenges. In: Bruinsma G., Johnson S.D. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Criminology. Oxford University Press.

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