There is strong evidence that focussing police resources at ‘crime hot spots’—small geographic places at which crime is concentrated—is an effective crime control strategy. Generally, hot spots policing strategies focus on formal social controls such as police crackdowns and often ignore the social context of the places that are targeted. Our article describes an approach that recognizes the importance of police community collaboration to improve public safety and reinforce informal social controls, and the emerging empirical evidence that social disorganization and collective efficacy may influence crime patterns at the micro-geographic level. We argue for the relevance of informal social controls in place-based policing and describe an innovative Smart Policing collaboration between the Brooklyn Park (Minnesota) Police Department and the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University that implements a department-wide programme in which police lead interventions to increase collective efficacy in hot spots.

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