A new series of Election Analyses is now available from the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance (CEP). The series will discuss the research evidence on some of the key policy battlegrounds of the 2010 General Election, including macroeconomic policy, immigration, health, education, crime, poverty and inequality, labour market policy, regional policy, energy and the environment, financial regulation and bankers’ bonuses, and foreign aid.
All the political parties promise to be ‘tough on crime’ and to protect central police funding from cuts. The opposition parties also stress freeing up police time spent on administrative ‘red tape’. The Conservatives promise to increase the number and length of custodial sentences, while the Liberal Democrats put the emphasis on rehabilitation. The Labour government likes to highlight policies to tackle economic and social deprivation.
The second CEP Election Analysis, by Oliver Marie, describes crime trends and research evidence relevant to the parties’ proposed policies. The publication is summarised below and can be found in full on the CEP Election Analysis Site
- Just over 4.7 million crimes were recorded by the police force of England and Wales in 2008/09, of which 72% were property crimes and 21% were violent crimes.
- The British Crime Survey, which asks consistent questions over time, shows that overall crimes committed have fallen by almost half since 1997
- Overall recorded crime has also fallen since the early 1990s. The introduction of better recording practices in 1997 and 2002, however, make it difficult to assess recent trends in violent crime although it has clearly been decreasing in the past five years.
- Despite this fall in crime rates, three quarters of the public still think the national picture is worsening.
- Several crime-fighting strategies work. First, increases in police numbers, combined with new policing strategies such as the Street Crime Initiative, have reduced robberies. Second, targeting prolific offenders is an effective tool for reducing crime. Third, recent evidence suggests that early release on electronic monitoring helps reduce recidivism rates of ex-prisoners.
- There is no clear evidence that the large increase in locking people up has reduced crime, especially in terms of its long-term impact on offending behaviours.
- Poor education and bad labour market opportunities are associated with higher levels of crime. Government policies aimed at improving education and ‘making work pay’ can have indirect effects on crime reduction.
Click here to download the full report.