Historical Institutionalism, Agendas and Crime: an analysis of the politics of crime since 1979 Will Jennings, Stephen Farrall, Colin Hay and Emily Gray BCH 2014 Figure 1: Property Crime Per Capita (Home Office Recorded Statistics and BCS) In which ways might this be a legacy of ‘Thatcherite’ policies? • Economic change • Changes in the housing market • Changes in social security provision • Changes in education policies (esp. after 1988) Economic Changes • During the 1970s there was a move away from the commitment to Keynesian policies and full employment. • Dramatic economic restructuring overseen by Thatcher governments. • Consequently, levels of unemployment rose through the 1980s (see Fig 2). Figure 2: Unemployment Rate (%), 1970-2006 Economic Changes This in turn led to increases in levels of inequality (Figure 3), augmented by changes in taxation policies which favoured the better off. Figure 3: Income Inequality (Gini coefficient), 1970-2006 The Economy and Crime in Post-War Britain • Using time series analyses for 1961-2006 Jennings et al (2012) find statistically significant relationships for: 1: the unemployment rate on the rate of property crime (consistent with other studies), 2: we also find that the crime-economy link strengthened during this period. 3: (economic inequality just outside bounds of significance). Housing Policy • 1980 Housing Act (+ others): created RTB – saw a huge rise in owner-occupation. • Held to have created residualisation of council housing; transient/marginalised residents with low levels of employment. • Contributed to increases in inequality (Ginsberg, 1989) and concentration of crime (Murie, 1997). Social Security • 1980-1985: Some tinkering with the DHSS. • 1986 Social Security Act based on Fowler Review. • Following this payments reduced for many individual benefits claimants (whilst total spend increased due to unemployment). Social Security • Evidence to suggest that reductions in government expenditure are associated with rises in crime during the 1980s (Reilly and Witt, 1992). • Jennings et al (2012) suggest that increases in welfare spending is associated with declines in the property crime rate. Education • Changes in education policies encouraged schools to exclude children in order to improve place in league tables. • Exclusions rose during the 1990s, reaching a peak of 12,668 in 1996-97. Education • Dumped on the streets this fuelled ASB (Home Office RDS Occ. Paper No. 71). • The BCS 1992-2006 shows sudden jump of people reporting “teens hanging around” to be a problem from an average of 8% before 2001 to 30% after 2002. • School exclusions helped to create discourse of ASB and need for C&DA 1998. British Crime Survey ASB items Anti-Social Behaviour (Common Problems) 4 Mean 3.5 3 2.5 2 1983 1988 1993 Noisy Neighbours Rubbish Abandoned Cars 1998 Year Vandals Drunks 2003 2008 2013 Teens Hanging Around Race Attack What happened to crime (etc)? • Rise in crime (Fig 5). This was generally rising before 1979, but the rate of increase picked up after early 1980s and again in early 1990s. • Fear of crime rises (tracks crime rates, Fig 6). • People want to see an increase in spending on the police/prisons (with decrease of spending on social security, Fig 7). Figure 5: Property Crime Per Capita (Home Office Recorded Statistics and BCS) Figure 6: Percentage worried about crime (BCS 1982-2005) Fig 7: Priorities for extra spending (social security vs. police) BSAS 1983-2009 Labour Party’s Response • Move to the political right. • ‘Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’. • Focus on ‘young offenders’ (Pledge Card, C&DA, YJB, changes to doli incapax). • Did not oppose Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 despite it being quite draconian (‘3 strikes’, minimum mandatory sentences). Labour In Government Needed to do something about crime because … a) it actually was a problem (peak was in 1994) but still a source of public concern b) they needed to be seen to be doing something to avoid being accused of having ‘gone soft on crime again’. What have Govts done? • They devote more time to crime in it’s expressed policy agenda (Fig 8). • Little sustained interest in crime until 60s (2%). • After 1979 GE rises to 8%. • Big jump again in 1996 (15%). • Thereafter runs at or near to 20%. Figure 8: Proportion of attention to law and crime in Queen’s Speech (from policyagendas.org) What have Govts done? • Farrall and Jennings report statistically significant relationships for: 1: national crime rate on Govt attention on crime in Queen’s Speeches, and, 2: effects of public opinion on Govt. attention on crime in Queen’s Speeches. • So the Govt responds to crime rates and expressions of public concern about crime.