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Panic on the streets of London: police, crime and the July 2005 terror attacks

  • Mirko Draca
  • Steve Machin
  • Robert Witt

In this paper we study the causal impact of police on crime by looking at what happened to crime before and after the terror attacks that hit central London in July 2005. The attacks resulted in a large redeployment of police officers to central London boroughs as compared to outer London - in fact, police deployment in central London increased by over 30 percent in the six weeks following the July 7 bombings. During this time crime fell significantly in central relative to outer London. Study of the timing of the crime reductions and their magnitude, the types of crime which were more likely to be affected and a series of robustness tests looking at possible biases all make us confident that our research approach identifies a causal impact of police on crime. Implementing an instrumental variable approach shows an elasticity of crime with respect to police approximately -0.3, so that a 10 percent increase in police activity reduces crime by around 3 percent.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19632/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19632.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19632
Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE Library Portugal Street London, WC2A 2HD, U.K.
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Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2002. "Education, Poverty, Political Violence and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," NBER Working Papers 9074, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jonathan Klick & Alexander Tabarrok, . "Using Terror Alert Levels to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Law & Economics Association Annual Meetings 1042, American Law & Economics Association.
  3. Nicholas Bloom, 2007. "The Impact of Uncertainty Shocks," NBER Working Papers 13385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Patrick Lenain & Marcos Bonturi & Vincent Koen, 2002. "The Economic Consequences of Terrorism," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 334, OECD Publishing.
  5. Grogger, Jeffrey, 2002. "The Effects of Civil Gang Injunctions on Reported Violent Crime: Evidence from Los Angeles County," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 69-90, April.
  6. Jacob, Brian A. & Lefgren, Lars & Moretti, Enrico, 2005. "The Dynamics of Criminal Behavior: Evidence from Weather Shocks," Working Paper Series rwp05-003, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  7. Gary S. Becker & Yona Rubinstein, 2011. "Fear and the Response to Terrorism: An Economic Analysis," CEP Discussion Papers dp1079, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Machin, Steve & Marie, Olivier, 2005. "Crime and Police Resources: The Street Crime Initiative," CEPR Discussion Papers 5390, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Cameron, Samuel, 1988. "The Economics of Crime Deterrence: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 301-23.
  11. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Policeon Crime," NBER Working Papers 4991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2003. "Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 119-144, Fall.
  14. Freeman, Richard B., 1999. "The economics of crime," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 52, pages 3529-3571 Elsevier.
  15. Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effects of Police on Crime: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1244-1250, September.
  16. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
  17. Mirko Draca & Stephen Machin & Robert Witt, 2010. "Crime Displacement and Police Interventions: Evidence from London's "Operation Theseus"," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Crime: Lessons for and from Latin America, pages 359-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Evans, William N. & Owens, Emily G., 2007. "COPS and crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 181-201, February.
  19. Justin McCrary, 2002. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1236-1243, September.
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