Youth centres are after-school programs, often offered free of charge in underprivileged neighborhoods. While they might impact the development of young individuals, there is little empirical evidence to inform policy in this area. I provide the first causal estimates of the relationship between youth centre availability and crime. I leverage administrative records from the London Metropolitan Police and quasi-experimental variation from austerity-related cuts which led to the closure of 30% of youth centres in 2010-2019. Crime participation rates for people aged 10-15 increases by 10% after youth centres close. The increase is driven by drug crimes. I don't find effects on crime participation for people above age 16. The effects are not driven by changes in policing, nor by general austerity. The available evidence suggests that these type of programs have a crime reducing effect beyond short-term incapacitation for people within the compulsory schooling age.
Draft available upon request
Runner up for Best Paper at Royal Economic Society PhD Conference 2023
Other Impact: National Youth Agency
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
Other Impact: Behavioural Insights, UK Parliament, Mayor of London
We evaluate the impact of police home visits on recidivism for known violent offenders using evidence from a targeted intervention implemented in London during the first Covid-19 lockdown. The visits were not planned as a randomised control trial, but the implementation led to a natural formation of two treatment groups, and a comparison group. The first group were found at home and had conversations with police, they were also left a letter with contact details for future engagement. The second group were attempted to be visited up to three times but not found at the known address. They were left the same letter as those who spoke to police. The third group were not attempted to be visited due to operational demands. We compare outcomes for each of the `treatments’ against the comparison up to one year after the visits. Our analysis highlights limitations in home interventions, as less violent offenders are more likely to be compliers. We don’t observe a fall in recidivism for those having conversations with the police. Perhaps surprisingly, we find some noisy but positive effects of the intervention for those attempted to be visited but who didn’t have a conversation with police.