The prize was awarded by its international jury to Professor Weisburd for a series of experiments showing that intensified police patrol at high crime "hot spots" does not merely push crime around.

The prize was presented by the Swedish Minister for Justice, Beatrice Ask, in a ceremony at Stockholm City Hall on June 15, 2010 (photography above by Pernille Tofte).

Weisburd's research was published in a report, The Importance of Place in Policing, which was launched in conjunction with the 2010 Symposium. The report is available to download in English and in Swedish in the menu to the right.

Prize recipient 2010 David Weisburd with Beatrice Ask (Minister of Justice).
David Weisburd and Beatrice Ask (Minister of Justice). Photo: Pernille Tofte

Listen to Professor Weisburd talk about his research on crime hot spots.

David Weisburd

The jury selected Weisburd's work on spatial displacement as the most influential single contribution of his wider body of work that has helped to bridge the gap between criminology and police practice.

This line of research encourages police around the world to concentrate crime prevention efforts at less than 5% of all street corners and addresses where over 50% of all urban crime occurs, yielding far less total crime than with conventional patrol patterns.

The jury noted that Weisburd has been a leader among the growing number of criminologists whose evidence shows how the application of research findings can help to reduce not only crime, but also the unnecessary impositions on public liberty from policing activities that do not address a predictable crime risk.

Weisburd's work builds on and adds to other research showing the effectiveness of placing almost all police patrols at street corners, addresses or blocks with high rates of robbery, purse snatching, street fights, or illegal drug markets. Police have generally been reluctant to re-structure most patrols to match the extreme version tested in this research for fear that "spatial displacement" of crime will yield no net reduction in criminal events. This theory holds that, like air in a balloon, criminals and their crimes will simply move from one part of a city to another if pressure is placed on crime at any given location. The competing theory is that most public crime only happens in certain kinds of locations, all of which can be made less hospitable to crime by proactive police efforts. Yet until Weisburd's series of crucial experiments, police have widely accepted the spatial displacement theory by spreading patrol out widely.

Evidence for drop in crime rate
The evidence from research done by Weisburd and his colleagues in Jersey City (New Jersey) and Seattle (Washington State) shows that crime can drop substantially in small "hot spots" without rising in other areas. Weisburd also produced evidence to demonstrate that the introduction of a crime prevention strategy in a small, high-crime place often creates a "diffusion of benefits" to nearby areas, reducing crime rather than increasing it in the immediate catchment zone around the high-crime target place. His evidence suggests that crimes depend not just on criminals, but on policing in key places. The jury noted that this evidence should encourage police agencies to focus far more patrols than at present on very small areas with high crime rates.

Chief Constable Peter Neyroud, who is the Chief Executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency in the UK and a member of the International Jury for the Stockholm Prize in Criminology, commented in writing on the significance of Weisburd's experiments. Neyroud said that this research "has been crucial to developing more effective policing." Commenting on the prevailing theory of displacement, Neyroud said that police can now be more confident that policing works. "As we strive to make our communities safer," he said, we now know that intensive patrol and problem-solving on the hottest of crime hot spots will push crime down in those areas without forcing it up in the next area."