Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

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Police searches and move-ons reduce property and violent crime

 

Full report: The long-term effect of routine police activity on property and violent crime in NSW, Australia, pdf 437Kb

Release Date: 10:30am Tuesday, 17 December 2019

A new study released today by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) shows that increasing the number of police searches and move-on directions can reduce crime.

Move-on directions and person searches are two of the more common policing strategies employed by NSW Police to prevent and control crime. In 2018, NSW Police issued 120,000 move-on directions and conducted 250,000 person and vehicle searches.

This study investigated the long-term relationship between these types of routine policing activity and recorded incidents of property and violent crime. The analysis focused on the incidence of break-ins, car theft, robbery and non-domestic assault in 17 Sydney Local Area Commands over a 13 year period from 2001 to 2013. 

Both searches and move-on directions were found to significantly reduce car theft, break-ins and robbery over the long term. The study estimates that;

  • a 10% increase in move-on directions results in a 2.7% drop in break and enter and a 10% increase in person searches reduces break and enter by 2.4%
  • a 10% increase in move-on directions yields a 2.2% reduction in motor vehicle theft and a 10% increase in person searches yields a 2.5% reduction in motor vehicle theft
  • a 10% increase in move-on directions and person searches produces a 3.3% and 3.4% drop in robbery, respectively.

Neither police move-on directions nor person searches had any meaningful effect on assault.

Commenting on the findings Acting Executive Director at BOCSAR, Jackie Fitzgerald, said that there was no evidence that increases in move-on directions and person searches have an immediate suppression effect on burglary, motor vehicle theft and robbery. "What seems to matter is the overall level of police activity, with sustained high levels of move-on directions and person searches producing lower levels of these offences."

Further enquiries: Jackie Fitzgerald 02 8346 1100
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au