Police Infrastructure, Police Performance and Crime: Evidence from Austerity Cuts
The effect of neighbourhood police on citizens’ welfare is poorly understood. Yet, this is a key parameter in evaluating the impacts of reductions of police spending. I exploit a large wave of austerity cuts to police forces in London, which resulted in the closure of 70% of police stations, while preserving the police force size. I combine novel granular data on reported crime, location of police stations and their closure, and information on individual crimes’ judicial outcomes. I show that the reduced local police presence led to a persistent significant increase in violent crimes, consistent with lower deterrence, and reduced clearance rates, indicating lower police effectiveness. I also provide suggestive evidence consistent with reduced reporting of non-violent crimes, as citizens internalise a higher reporting cost. Overall, the policy led to a sizeable reduction in citizens’ welfare, which I document by showing a decrease in house prices concentrated in high-crime and more deprived census blocks, further exacerbating already existing inequality. Together, the closures produced considerable distributional and efficiency losses, and generated costs that substantially outweigh the benefits in terms of lower public expenditure for the criminal justice system.
Date: 7 February 2023, 16:00 (Tuesday, 4th week, Hilary 2023)
Venue: Manor Road Building, Manor Road OX1 3UQ
Venue Details: Seminar Room A or https://zoom.us/j/97439169282?pwd=N2dVdGVPQmpoMUp2NnRvY2ZLNTJ1dz09
Speaker: Elisa Facchetti (IFS)
Organising department: Department of Economics
Part of: Applied Microeconomics Seminar
Booking required?: Not required
Audience: Public
Editor: Emma Heritage