Critic: Problem-oriented policing: The disconnect between principles and practice

Anthony A. Braga, David Weisburd

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Problem-oriented policing works to identify why things are going wrong and to frame responses using a wide variety of innovative approaches (Goldstein 1979). Using a basic iterative approach of problem identification, analysis, response, assessment, and adjustment of the response, this adaptable and dynamic analytic approach provides an appropriate framework to uncover the complex mechanisms at play in crime problems and to develop tailor-made interventions to address the underlying conditions that cause crime problems (Eck and Spelman 1987; Goldstein 1990). Researchers have found problem-oriented policing to be effective in controlling a wide range of specific crime and disorder problems, such as convenience store robberies (Hunter and Jeffrey 1992), prostitution (Matthews 1990), and alcohol-related violence in pubs and clubs (Homel, Hauritz, Wortley et al. 1997). Indeed, there is very promising evidence of the effectiveness of the approach (Braga 2002; Committee to Review Research 2004; Weisburd and Eck 2004). But is the “problem-oriented policing” that researchers have evaluated similar to the model of problem-oriented policing that its originators proposed? There is substantial evidence that, too often, the principles envisioned by Herman Goldstein are not being practiced in the field. Deficiencies in current problem-oriented policing practices exist in all phases of the process. A number of scholars have identified challenging issues in the substance and implementation of many problem-oriented policing projects, including: The tendency for officers to conduct only a superficial analysis of problems and then rush to implement a response, the tendency for officers to rely on traditional or faddish responses rather than conducting a wider search for creative responses, and the tendency to completely ignore the assessment of the effectiveness of implemented responses (Cordner 1998; but also see Clarke 1998; Read and Tilley; Scott and Clarke 2000).

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationPolice Innovation
Subtitle of host publicationContrasting Perspectives
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780511489334
ISBN (Print)052183628x, 9780521836289
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2006 and Cambridge University Press, 2009.


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