Handbook on the Economics of Crime
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Handbook on the Economics of Crime

Edited by Bruce L. Benson and Paul R. Zimmerman

While few economists analyzed criminal behaviour and the criminal justice process before Gary Becker’s seminal 1968 paper, an enormous body of economic research on crime has since been produced. This insightful and comprehensive Handbook reviews and extends much of this important resulting research.
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Chapter 15: Private Policing: Experiences, Evaluation and Future Direction

Erwin A. Blackstone and Simon Hakim


Erwin A. Blackstone and Simon Hakim INTRODUCTION The rising number and severity of terrorist incidents and natural disasters in the world, the shrinking government budgets for law enforcement, the trend towards reliance on markets and private provision of government services, the rising number of 911 calls, the regulations requiring additional security, increased exposure to legal liability and concerns about poor publicity have all led to increased demand for private security. The conventional wisdom has been that security is a public good and should be provided by public law enforcement agencies. The question is whether the rising demand and shrinking supply of public policing requires greater reliance on private security and whether it should be regulated. This chapter describes the activities and changes over time in private policing, evaluates its performance, and suggests public policy recommendations. It investigates whether private police are a substitute or complement to public police. Private police includes companies involved in investigations, guarding, armored car services and security alarm systems. We shall concentrate just on investigation, guarding and response to alarms, which are akin to public policing. The data analyzed include just employees and financial data of companies providing security services. Non-security companies that employ their own proprietary security services are excluded from the data but are a significant part of the industry. It is estimated that there are three private security guards to every public police officer (Joh, 2004) while government data on the industry report only about 25 percent more private officers. Moreover, companies providing...

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