Inj Prev doi:10.1136/ip.2009.024943
  • Original Article

The effect of business improvement districts on the incidence of violent crimes

Open Access
  1. Ricky Bluthenthal2
  1. 1University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California, USA
  3. 3Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr John M MacDonald, Department of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania, McNeil Building, Suite 483 3718 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6286, USA; johnmm{at}
  1. Contributors JMM originated the study design, conducted some of the analysis, and led the writing. DG conducted the main statistical analysis. RJS helped conceptualise the study design and writing. RB contributed to the study design and writing. All authors helped to conceptualise ideas, interpret findings and review drafts of the paper.

  • Accepted 8 March 2010
  • Published Online First 29 June 2010


Objective To examine whether business improvement districts (BID) contributed to greater than expected declines in the incidence of violent crimes in affected neighbourhoods.

Method A Bayesian hierarchical model was used to assess the changes in the incidence of violent crimes between 1994 and 2005 and the implementation of 30 BID in Los Angeles neighbourhoods.

Results The implementation of BID was associated with a 12% reduction in the incidence of robbery (95% posterior probability interval −2 to 24) and an 8% reduction in the total incidence of violent crimes (95% posterior probability interval −5 to 21). The strength of the effect of BID on robbery crimes varied by location.

Conclusion These findings indicate that the implementation of BID can reduce the incidence of violent crimes likely to result in injury to individuals. The findings also indicate that the establishment of a BID by itself is not a panacea, and highlight the importance of targeting BID efforts to crime prevention interventions that reduce violence exposure associated with criminal behaviours.


  • Funding This research was supported in part by a cooperative agreement from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (1U49CE000773). The opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not represent the official positions of the CDC, the RAND Corporation, or any of its clients.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the RAND institutional review board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

Open Access

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