Economic Woman

Econometrics, gender, equity and more.

A study in contrasts

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This morning I read that New York Times magazine article about Cease Fire, an outreach program tackling the cycle of gun violence and retribution in Chicago. I won’t gush until I’ve seen some numbers, but it struck me as the sort of intellectual inspiration, pragmatism, and people that makes for great public policy.

Then this evening I read about this ass-backwards plan to encourage the police to hound youth on Britain’s council estates. (The headline: “Police should harass young thugs – Smith.”)

As part of the crackdown on bad behaviour, [Home Secretary Jacqui Smith] will urge police forces across the country to follow the example of Essex police, who have mounted four-day “frame and shame” operations by filming and repeatedly stopping identified persistent offenders on problem estates.

The programme in Essex has been successful, even though it may raise human rights issues about such tough tactics, especially if those harassed by the police have not been found guilty of any criminal offence.

Since it’s my expertise, let’s talk about sloppy reporting. What is “success” in this situation? A reduction in violent crime rates? Fewer arrests? Positive feedback from local residents? A glowing review in the local paper? Can we really get away with not narrowing this down?

On areas well beyond my expertise: what do you imagine these “identified persistent offenders” are more likely to do after receiving this sort of treatment: join a group like Cease Fire, or go out and shoot a cop?

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Written by Allison

8 May 2008 at 1:58 am

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