CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Abramovaite et al. on Testing Deterrence Theory

Juste AbramovaiteSiddhartha BandyopadhyaySamrat Bhattacharya and Nick Cowen (University of Birmingham, University of Birmingham - Department of Economics, Fifth Third Bank - Asset Management Division and School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln) have posted Classical deterrence theory revisited: an empirical analysis of Police Force Areas in England and Wales (European Journal of Criminology) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The severity, certainty and celerity (swiftness) of punishment are theorised to influence offending through deterrence. Yet celerity is only occasionally included in empirical studies of criminal activity and the three deterrence factors have rarely been analysed in one empirical model. We address this gap with an analysis using unique panel data of recorded theft, burglary and violence against the person for 41 Police Force Areas in England and Wales using variables that capture these three theorised factors of deterrence. Police detection reduces subsequent burglary and theft but not violence while severity appears to reduce burglary but not theft or violent crime. We find that variation in the celerity of sanction has a significant impact on theft offences but not on burglary or violence offences. Increased average prison sentences reduce burglary only. We account for these results in terms of data challenges and the likely different motivations underlying violent and acquisitive crime.

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