Monday, August 15, 2011

UK in Crisis: Economic Recovery Impossible Without Order

A YouGov poll found that 85 per cent of the public believe that most of those taking part in the riots will go unpunished – they have lost faith in the system. This is understandable: it also reflects the perception of the thugs themselves. 

Criminal activity is far more rational than people believe, especially in wealthy societies such as ours: there is a lot of empirical and statistical work that shows that criminals implicitly weigh up the costs and benefits of crime. A high probability and cost of detection reduces crime, all other things equal; a low likelihood of detection, a low likely cost (such as a negligible prison sentence or a caution, as has too often been the case in the past) and a larger payoff (flat screen TVs or expensive trainers) raises it. Many of those storming shops made that very calculation this week, albeit implicitly and in some cases incorrectly.

There can be no sustainable economic recovery without security. The US police chief Bill Bratton, who pioneered zero tolerance approaches to crime reduction, should be brought in to run the Metropolitan Police. The worst of the violence is over but there needs to be permanent reforms. Social collapse and self-induced economic stagnation must no longer be tolerated. The government must act, and fast.

(Allistar Heath, Editor of City AM, "From royal fairytale to banana republic")