catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Crime, law and order

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Crime happens when the police (and the community) have a tolerant attitude towards criminal behaviour. This tolerance is likely to increase when people think that poverty and inequality are the root causes of criminal behaviour. The WSJ has a fantastic take-down of this view.

If crime was a rational response to income inequality, the thinking went, government can best fight it through social services and wealth redistribution, not through arrests and incarceration.

The Compstat mentality is the opposite of root causes excuse-making; it holds that policing can and must control crime for the sake of urban economic viability. More and more police chiefs have adopted the Compstat philosophy of crime-fighting and the information-based policing techniques that it spawned. Their success in lowering crime shows that the government can control antisocial behavior and provide public safety through enforcing the rule of law. Moreover, the state has the moral right and obligation to do so, regardless of economic conditions or income inequality.

Contrast this approach with Victorian Police Commissioner Simon Overland.

Some of these crimes are racially motivated. However, I also believe that many of the robberies and other crimes of violence are simply opportunistic.

We know that a lot of international students work and study late at night and are often travelling home by themselves on trains, equipped with their laptops and phones.

Unfortunately, they are often just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That might be true; but it doesn’t suggest that he is being very proactive about preventing crime. (I admit that could be an unfair characterisation.)

Written by Sinclair Davidson

January 5, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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