Book News: March 8th, 2005

By David G. Green, Emma Grove and Nadia MartinThe authors compare the policing methods of Britain, France, Germany and the USA. They argue that, in spite of the fact that they have very different policing traditions, the USA, France and Germany have all made a more effective job of combating rising crime than Britain. They identify increases in different types of crime over varying periods from 1893. In 1921, there were 57,000 police officers dealing with 103,000 crimes. In 2002/2003 there were 134,000 police officers dealing with 5,899,000 crimes. The reason for the striking success of policing in New York and other US cities is that have adopted the Broken Windows approach to crime and anti-social behaviour where the police pay attention to low-level acts of disorder, and deal with them before they create an environment in which the anti-social elements feel in control.

The authors argue that the real problem is the loss of internalised moral principles that prevent people from committing crimes in the first place. The rise in lawlessness reflects a decline in shared values, following the cultural revolution of the 1960s, which subverted many institutions through which moral capital was generated – in particular, the family based on marriage. It identifies as problematic, young people who grow up in troubled and dysfunctional households in which moral values are not inculcated, who attend schools where teachers are afraid or unwilling to teach the difference between right or wrong, and who live in communities in which the influence of religious faith is negligible.

Published by Civitas. ISBN 1-903 386-36-5. 14.50 pounds. Order on line at http://www.civitas.org.uk/shop/acatalog/Basic_Products.html