Acquisitive Crime, Sentencing and Detection: An Analysis of England and Wales
We provide the first detailed econometric analysis of the impact of sentencing on various types of acquisitive crime (theft, burglary, fraud and robbery) in England and Wales. We examine (a) whether sentencing reduces crime and (b) whether short sentences are more effective than long sentences. Detection is another important explanatory variable whose potential endogeneity is addressed by instrumenting using lagged values of police expenditure and detection. Our results show that detection is significant and negatively affects all crime types while the impact of sentences is negative and significant for burglary and fraud in a linear specification. A quadratic specification for sentencing shows that the linear term is positive while the square term is negative for robbery suggesting short sentences may be counterproductive in reducing robbery. We also control for a number of socio-economic variables whose effects significantly affect crime.
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