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February 15, 2007



Bah, there is no steady state. Your simple predator-prey analogy implies that you'd reach a limit cycle. Didn't they teach you maths at Oxford?


"How much burglary should there be?
Intuition says: "none." And intuition's wrong"

Surely intuition is right? If you could determine with a click of your fingers whether there was any burglarly or not, none is better than some (unless you think it serves some function).

This paper (I haven't read the conclusion) seems to be saying 'You can't have no burglarly, and periods of it are worse than a small amount as they make people complacent'. Didn't people used to make the same case for unemployment?


This is ridiculous!

It's just like the idea that:
1. government is a monopoly,
2. monopolies restrict supply to maximize profit,
3. therefore we don't have enough government.


"Tougher punishment might lead to more crime. If the government punishes burglars severely, the fall in crime in the short-run will cause a decline of neighbourhood watch schemes and hence more crime in the long-run, as criminals judge that the low probability of being caught offsets the nasty punishment."

This makes no sense. In the long run, the neighborhood is choosing their level of vigilance based on the crime level. If tougher punishment leads to less crime cet. par., why would crime increase?

james higham

There's a lot to be said for Vernon's thesis. Yesterday I had a disaster here and it was only the combination of people who were in the right place at the right time which resolved the matter.

As my friend said later: 'Over here [the fSU], it's the network [of friends] which counts. No network - you're a dead man.'


All of this relies on deterrence (ie the chance of being caught and imprisoned for longer periods of time) having some effect on whether a burglar will carry out a burglary. And there are plenty of studies out there that tell you this just ain't so.

Ian Bennett

The underlying assumption is that crime is only prevented by Neighbourhood Watch schemes; isn't this what we pay the Police for?

dave heasman

This should also apply to policing, but we see that as crime decreases the number of police inexorably increases, as if there were no correlation at all. And all this concurrent with the authorities' increased desire to poke their noses into our business.
In the case of reduced burglaries perhaps Neighborhood Watch might diversify into more general surveillance, too?



A jailed person has great difficulty in carrying out a burglary.

Prison works.

john b

AC1: your point is only true if we impose mandatory sentences of life-without-parole, death, or transportation-for-life. Otherwise, it's fatuous nonsense.

You might support such punishments for non-violent criminals; I prefer to not live in the Middle ages.


AC1, you have read my comment wrongly (again) and then leapt to a conclusion. You really need to work on your comprehension skills.

I didn't say whether or not prison works, I said that deterrence doesn't work.

Studies have shown numerous time that the use of jail time as a deterrent is specious nonsense. It would only work if justice were instant and certain, and it isn't. It also would only work if people had an accurate gauge of what someone might get for a particular crime and, alas, again and again, studies have shown that the public (and criminal) perception of sentencing norms is way off base. Now, the EXISTENCE of a justice system certainly is a deterrence - as was shown in WW2 when the lack of a police service in certain areas resulted in a massive upturn in crime.



The majority of crime is performed by repeat criminals (people previously known to police). We need to prevent crime by seperating criminals away from civilised people for much longer or until the criminal become civilised.

The alternative is what you can already see happening where civilised people band together in communities which resemble inverted prisons.

Prison Works.


Once again AC1, you have not read what I have written. I even said it the first time. You seem to be having an entirely different conversation with an entirely different parallel universe, where I am talking about whetyher or not prison works.

I say again - I make no claims either way for whether or not prison works.

Shall I say that again?

I make no claims either way for whether or not prison works.

Shall I try that a third time?

I make no claims either way for whether or not prison works.

What I was talking about - and I shall say this in caps, lest I be misunderstood - is DETERRENCE.

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