The Concentration of Crime at Place in Montreal and Toronto [2019]

The identification of hot spots of crime – areas of high crime intensity – is of primary importance for crime prevention strategies. While the notion of crime hot spots is well accepted in Anglo-Saxon criminology, its empirical foundation is largely drawn from U.S. studies, and comparatively little literature is available for other countries, including Canada. Taking advantage of their respective “open data” initiatives, this study compares the spatial pattern of the two largest Canadian cities, Montreal and Toronto. The authors also review and empirically explore five propositions from the existing literature: (1) that a small proportion of places account for a large proportion of recorded criminal incidents; (2) that crime concentration is inversely correlated with the size of geographic units; (3) that crime concentration drastically varies whether all places or only places where at least one crime occurred are considered; (4) that different hot spots are identified at particular times of the day; and (5) that hot spots of different crime types do not overlap much. Both Toronto and Montreal appear to be very similar in terms of crime concentrations and hot spots. Additionally, this study provides preliminary support for the idea that findings from other countries can be generalized to the Canadian context.

Rémi Boivin, Silas Nogueira de Melo
Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, February 20, 2019