Bill Bratton on falling US crime and rising unemployment

Read it here – along with a number of other useful contributions organised by the excellent Freakonomics team.

Bill Bratton, former head of NYPD and LAPD says;

“There is no immediate causal relationship between poverty or economic downturns and crime. An increase in employment or a decline in GDP usually will not lead to a commensurate increase in criminal activity. This is because most poor people are not criminals and never will be, even if their circumstances grow markedly worse. They are more likely to take the pressures of bad times out on themselves and their families: suicide rates and domestic violence rates often rise faster in downturns than property crime and violent crime against strangers.
This statement comes with a major proviso, however. Extended and severe downturns that engender long-term unemployment rates of 15 or 20 percent in poor and minority communities can have criminogenic effects, not only because they foreclose economic opportunities, but also because they perpetuate an underclass culture that fails to educate and socialize young men. As these young men grow, they become the foot soldiers for crime of all kinds, including drug dealing, robberies, burglaries, auto theft, and other larcenies, as well as targeted and random shootings in the public square”

Some years ago, there was a hope Bratton would take over the London Metropolitan Police Force but that now seems to have faded – a great shame.

I remember going to a lecture of his in London back in 2003 organised by Civitas and being fascinated by his use of Compstat in mapping crime and crime spots and moving a concentration of Police officers to the time and location of where these crimes most happened in order to prevent crime – read about it here. He likened it to radar in the Battle of Britain – sending the Spitfires and Hurricanes to where the incoming Germany planes were meant to be, before they got to their target rather than try and shoot them down on the way back.

A nice touch, although some of us dare to think the real Battle of Britain was the Battle of the Atlantic and that was won by the Royal and US Navies.

Stil, the whole crime-mapping and stats idea that he put forward that day so convincingly stayed with me and eventually led to this website.


3 thoughts on “Bill Bratton on falling US crime and rising unemployment

  1. At we did a review on the location of teenage murders in London against areas of deprivation at a borough level and found about a third of the variance in teenage murder numbers could be attributed to deprivation.
    However London boroughs are pretty large and can hide pockets of deprivation within areas of more affluence.

    But when we then mapped the location of teenage murders to deprivation at its lowest spatial level (Lower Super Output Area) we were really surprised not to see a strong relationship between deprivation and where these teenage murders occurred.

    With the highest number of teenage murders clustering at the medium level of deprivation and tailing off towards both the most and least deprived areas.

    The location of teenage murders and areas of deprivation to LSOA are mapped onto the one GoogleMap so visitors can readily see where these incidents occur.

    All the best.


  2. You’re wasting everybody’s time citizensreport. Why don’t you do something useful like mapping the location of murders in london against areas where a lot of blacks live?

    Maybe you don’t do that because the results won’t be to your liking.

  3. Bill Bratton should not get any credit whatsoever for lowering the crime rate in new york. The crime rate depends more on other factors, like the availability of abortion, than it does on any crime prevention measures bought in by anyone. This has been shown by the excellent analysis in the freakonomics book. It’s a shame bill bratton (and mayor giuliani) took credit for a drop in crime rates which he was never responsible for.

Leave a Reply