Youth centres are after-school programs, often offered free of charge in underprivileged neighbourhoods. I provide the first causal estimates of their effects on crime leveraging quasi-experimental variation from austerity-related cuts which led to the closure of 30% of youth centres in 2010-2019 in London. Closures increase crime participation rates for people aged 10-15 by 7 to 9%. The rise is driven by drug crime rates, up by 16%. The effects are not explained by changes in policing intensity, nor by general austerity. Instead, these type of programs have a crime reducing effect beyond short-term incapacitation.
Runner up for Best Paper at Royal Economic Society PhD Conference 2023
Other Impact: National Youth Agency, Schoolsweek
We analyse the spatial distribution of local street gangs operating in London in the 1990-2015 period, focusing on how housing characteristics determine gang presence. High-rise public housing estates built in the post-World War II period are more likely to become gang turfs than areas with low-rise social housing or no social housing. To resolve any potential reverse causality between the socio-economic characteristics of gang areas and the presence of public housing, for instance, if high rise social housing was constructed in areas with higher criminality, the London bombing Blitz of 1940-41 is utilised as a shock to urban development. Bomb damage led to the construction of high-rise post-war public housing and, therefore, the formation of gangs in the later period. We then show that gang presence is correlated with higher incidence of knife crimes with injury and higher incidence of youth crimes.
Media: BBC World News (TV), LSE IQ, The Economist, Nada Es Gratis
Other Impact: Behavioural Insights, UK Parliament, Mayor of London, Action on Armed Violence
We assess the impact of police home visits to known violent offenders on subsequent criminal behaviour evaluating a targeted intervention implemented in London during the first Covid-19 lockdown, and records from 746 offenders. We use quasi-experimental variation induced by the unexpected discontinuation of the police visits which meant that, from the original pool of people expected to be visited, a subsample was not due to exogenous operational demands. The intervention might be effective in reducing recidivism for gang members, although the impact could be limited for a general population. The crime-reducing effects appear to be driven by increased police attention.