Costs of crime and criminal justice policy

Publication Type: Edited Books and Chapter

Commissioned by:

Principal Investigator/lead organisation: Roger Bowles

In collaboration with:

‘The Impact of Costs of Crime Methodology on Criminal Justice Policy’, in Liber Amicorum for Anthony Ogus, M Faure & F Stephen (Eds.), Intersentia, Amsterdam,  2008

This paper argues that there are signs of an influence of economic thinking on criminal justice policy. There are signs that the prioritisation of projects within the criminal justice sphere is increasingly reflecting cost effectiveness considerations as well as pure effectiveness or political expediency or whatever. The paper is organised around the contention that the key step forward in opening up criminal justice policymaking to economic thinking and influence has resulted from developments in the making of empirical estimates of the costs of crime. Though progress in this field has been limited to a comparatively small number of countries (principally US, Britain, Australia, Netherlands and Sweden) we argue that this development has been of considerable significance. By providing criminal justice policymakers with a means of demonstrating the returns from investments in criminal justice projects (particularly in terms of monetised benefits from crime prevention) it has provided new policy tools. This has enabled a more rational allocation of funds within the CJ sector and has also enabled the sector to compete more effectively against other sectors such as health and education for public funds.