This paper examines how displacement and diffusion of benefits can be measured within the context of crime reduction project evaluations. Attempts to monitor the impact of Reducing Burglary Initiative (RBI) projects in the United Kingdom highlighted an existing lack of measurement strategies in this area. This paper seeks to make a start at addressing this problem through a three-stage approach. First,
this paper examines existing empirical and theoretical literature on displacement and diffusion of benefits and highlights some of the established difficulties associated with their measurement. It is argued that many of these difficulties relate to the lack of a systematic basis
for targeting measurement. Second, the paper reviews some of the key literature on offender decision making, motivation and mobility to see if there is any empirical basis for anticipating the direction and form of any displacement/diffusion of benefits. Third, this paper goes on to
explore how one might, within the context of typical project evaluation research, model offending characteristics with the aim of anticipating
any possible offender adaptation to the impact(s) of project work. This is illustrated with the example of the “buffer zone selection model,”
which was developed to select areas to test for spatial displacement/diffusion of benefits from RBI project areas. The discussion then turns to examining how one might interpret changes in crime levels in project and buffer areas, and a number of possible confirmatory tests are outlined that could be utilised to validate any resulting hypotheses.
University of Stirling
Research Methods and Criminological Theory