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Crime Reduction Toolkits

Public Transport

Crime - Let's bring it down
 
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Toolkits Homepage
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Toolkits Content
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Introduction
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Understanding the crime issues
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Responding to Crime
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Funding Sources
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Appendix
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Toolkit Index

Order Maintenance Policing and Public Transport

Order maintenance policing intensified policing of disorder or incivilities is used on a number of transport systems, especially in the United States. It is based on the "broken windows" theory, which suggests that signs of disorder such as graffiti or drug dealing are linked with more serious crimes (Wilson and Kelling, 1982). Signs of disorder lead to increased fear of crime amongst the community, which in turn leads to decreased surveillance and informal social control. It is this decreased social control, which provides the opportunity for more serious crimes. Further, it is argued, the signs of disorder also signal to offenders that the police will be less likely to intervene in offences. The increased policing of low level disorder through order maintenance policing is said to work against this process and reduce serious crime by increasing the perceived risks for offenders.

Smith and Clarke (2000) reviewed the evidence for order maintenance policing in the public transport environment. They considered the large fall in serious crime on the New York City subway in the 1990s, which corresponded with a police crackdown on more minor offences, particularly fare evasion. They also considered the successful graffiti reduction program on the New York City subway in 1984, which, according to broken windows theory, should have produced a reduction in other more serious crime on the system. However, no such immediate reduction in serious crime on the subway followed the introduction of the program. They concluded that there is some ostensible evidence for the effectiveness of order maintenance policing in reducing serious crime on the subway system in New York City. However, they emphasise the need for further study into the mechanisms by which this style of policing works because the clean up of graffiti on the NYC subway shows that not all types of disorder operate to promote crime in the same manner.

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