Crime is falling, but we don't why. This was the theme of a piece in The Observer a week ago by Andrew Rawnsley:-
Here is some good news for nearly everyone. Crime is falling. Murder is down. Violent crime generally is down. Property crime is down. In fact, almost every category of criminality that you can think of is declining. Here is the even better news. This is not a blip. The downward trend is now very well established and can be traced back over many years. And here is the funniest bit of this news. No one is really sure why. Those who think of themselves as experts on the causes of crime confess to being nonplussed. The majority of them predicted that a prolonged economic squeeze could only lead to more crime. They are scratching their heads trying to figure out why the opposite is happening.
The article goes on to recount the many and varied theories advanced to explain the phenomenon, together with the discomfort experienced by criminologists, politicians and others including the police, each of whom have had cherished theories demolished or dented at various times. Andrew concludes the article by confirming that we really don't know why crime is falling.
I find this conclusion really satisfying in many ways, especially given the nature of probation work. Despite all the endeavours of very bright people some, if not many, aspects of human behaviour simply continue to defy scientific or other explanation. For me it confirms the idiocy of OASys and the myth that it works. In fact it's vastly time consuming and gets in the way of trying to understand clients, but I digress.
Anyway, the piece drew quite a response, including the point made by regular reader and retired probation officer Mike Guilfoyle that probation just might have played it's part in reducing crime:-
Andrew Rawnsley's thoughtful overview of the putative reasons behind the welcome overall reductions in the crime figures have, he notes, confounded criminologists and policy-makers ("A crime mystery. It's going down, but no one really knows why", Comment). His piece did, however, omit any reference to the attested success of the probation service over recent years in contributing to reducing reoffending. Ministry of Justice data between 2000 and 2010 demonstrates reductions in adult reoffending of over 3%.
However further contributors went on to seriously dent this good news story by pointing out that violent crime might be falling, but other offences were flourishing, such as fraudulent behaviour, business crime and violence in the home. In fact this view is confirmed by Marian Fitzgerald and quoted in this recent piece, also from the Observer:-