January 19, 2005

Police numbers up; crime rates down. The effect of police on crime in the Netherlands, 1996-2003

Grotere bewegingsvrijheid dankzij meer politie

Press release
Dankzij de toename van politiepersoneel in de afgelopen jaren zijn mensen zich vrijer gaan bewegen. Mensen rijden of lopen minder vaak om met het doel onveilige plekken te mijden en laten minder vaak waardevolle eigendommen thuis uit angst voor diefstal op straat.

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We use a multiple time series design with police regions as the unit of analysis, covering the period 1996-2003. During this period, police resources increased substantially. The growth in additional resources differed greatly between regions, allowing us to use this policy intervention to identify the effect of police on crime and nuisance. We control for regional economic, social and demographic factors and for national trends that might obscure the effect of police on crime.

We find significantly negative effects of higher police levels on property crime, violent crime and nuisance. Our estimates suggest that a substantial proportion of the decline in crime and nuisance during the period 1996-2003 is attributable to the increase in police personnel.


Ben Vollaard

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