BACKGROUND: Health and social impacts of safe consumption sites (SCS) are well described in multiple countries. One argument used by those opposed to SCS in the US is that findings from other countries are not relevant to the US context. We examined whether an unsanctioned SCS operating in the US affected local crime rates.
METHODS: Controlled interrupted time series (ITS) analysis of police incident reports for five years before and five years after SCS opening, comparing one intervention and two control areas in one city.
RESULTS: Narcotic/drug incidents declined across the pre- and post-intervention periods in the intervention area and remained constant in both control areas, preventing an ITS analysis but suggesting no negative impact. On average, incident reports relating to assault, burglary, larceny theft, and robbery in the post-intervention period steadily decreased at a similar rate within both the Intervention area and Control area 1. However the change in rate of decline post-intervention was statistically significantly greater in the Intervention area compared to Control area 1 (difference in slope -0.007 SDs, 95 % CI: -0.013, -0.002; p = 0.01). The Intervention area had a statistically significant decline in crime over the post-intervention period compared to Control area 2 (difference in slope -0.023 SDs, 95 % CI: -0.03, -0.01; p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Documented criminal activity decreased rather than increased in the area around an unsanctioned SCS located in the US in the five years following SCS opening.