Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

POP Center Responses Closing Streets and Alleys to Reduce Crime Page 6

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Your Checklist of Tasks

Too little is known about street closures to provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to go about them, and in any case, every problem-oriented project is unique. You will therefore have to tailor general guidelines to your own situation to produce an action plan. Answering the following questions will help you determine how well you have done this.

Analyzing the Problem

  • Have you clearly defined the neighborhood's boundaries?
  • Have you collected reliable data about the types of crime or disorder that are the focus of concern?
  • Do you know the proportion of crimes committed by outsiders?
  • Do you know how they reach the neighborhood (by car or on foot)?
  • Do you know whether they go to the neighborhood specifically to commit crimes, or whether they do so when passing through?
  • Have you estimated how much crime the barriers will prevent?
  • Have you explored alternatives to closures (e.g., CCTV, neighborhood watch, crackdowns, target-hardening)?
  • Can you explain why these alternatives could not adequately substitute for closures?

Getting Support

  • Do you have support from police district commanders, the chief, and other key city officials, such as the traffic engineer?
  • Do you have a clear mandate from residents and elected representatives to proceed?
  • Are residents content with the barriers' appearance?
  • Have you allayed resident concerns about neighborhood stigmatization?
  • Have you agreed on who will have keys (if keys are needed)?
  • Have you dealt with the worries of nearby communities about displaced traffic and crime?
  • Have you satisfied the concerns of emergency service providers (fire, ambulance, and police)?
  • Is your plan acceptable to local providers of garbage pickup, snow removal, and mail delivery?
  • Does your plan accommodate any special needs of public transport or school bus providers serving the neighborhood?
  • Will your plan avoid untoward difficulty for delivery and cab drivers?
  • Have you briefed the local media about the need for closures?
  • Have you dealt satisfactorily with public opposition?

Implementing the Closures

  • How many streets and/or alleys will be closed?
  • Can you produce a map showing where the closures will be made?
  • Can you clearly explain the effect on neighborhood access and traffic patterns?
  • What kind of barriers will be installed?
  • How much will the barriers cost?
  • How long will it take to install the barriers once agreement has been reached?
  • Who will install the barriers?
  • Does your plan include a trial period? If so, is it long enough to assess the closures' effect on crime?
  • How will it be decided whether to make the closures permanent?
  • Have you made sure that any legal requirements for implementing closures can be met?

Assessing Effectiveness†

† See Eck (2002) for help with assessing effectiveness. [Full text ]

  • Will you compare neighborhood crime or disorder before the closures with that after the closures?
  • Will the before-and-after time periods be directly comparable?
  • Will you be able to directly compare the proportions of crime committed by outsiders in the before-and-after periods?
  • Will you be able to compare before-and-after crime trends in your neighborhood with those in nearby neighborhoods?
  • Will you examine possible displacement/diffusion?
  • Will you be able to estimate the barriers' cost-effectiveness?

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