UCL Engineering


Hot spots in Latin America

Supporting the implementation of hot spot policing in Latin America

Police in Latin America

14 February 2020

Hot spot policing involves the deployment of police officers to specific streets or specific locations (e.g. train stations) where crime is known to highly concentrate, with the objective of reducing the high levels of crime at these locations.

Hot spot policing provides a means of helping to reduce crime by focusing police resources in a more efficient and effective manner.

Evaluations of hot spot policing in the USA and the UK indicate these programmes can help reduce crime by 15-40%. In addition, these evaluations have shown that crime is not simply displaced elsewhere.

Until recently, hot spot policing programmes have received little attention in Latin America. The UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science have been working with police agencies in Latin America to implement hot spot policing. This includes:

  • PADO (Programa de Alta Dedicación Operativa), a hot spot policing programme in Montevideo, Uruguay (2016 – present) that reduced robberies by 23%. The JDI continue to work with the Uruguay Police to strengthen PADO by using advanced analysis techniques and providing police officer training.
  • A four-city hot spot policing programme in Argentina (La Plata, Morón, Santa Fe, and Tres de Febrero), where reductions in robberies and theft were experienced in each city (2017-2018).
  • A hot spot policing programme in Mexico (2018), where the cities of Ecatepec, Tlalnepantla, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, Irapuato, Zacatecas, Monterrey and Escobedo have been supported by the JDI to implement hot spot policing programmes to reduce vehicle theft.
It has been an honour and a pleasure to work with UCL on this hot spot policing program. Our team has learned a huge amount that has allowed us to be able to advance effectively in new techniques of crime prevention.” – Juan Manuel Lucioni, Secretary of Security, Municipality of Tres de Febrero, Argentina