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28 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (1989)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj28 and id is 1 raw text is: 

The Howard journal Vol 28 No 1. Feb 89
ISSN 0265-5527

Motorcycle Theft, Helmet Legislation

                   and Displacement

                       and  DAVID ELLIOTT
       Pat Mayhew  and David Elliott are, respectively, Principal Research
       Officer and Higher Scientific Officer, Home Office Research and
                              Planning Unit
      Ronald  Clarke is Dean of the School of Criminal justice at Rutgers,
                     The State University of New Jersey

Abstract: Most current theory, which treats crime as an expression of psychological or social
malaise, would hold that displacement of offending undermines the value of measures to reduce
opportunities for crime. However, a drop of more than 60% in motorcycle thefts in the Federal
Republic of Germany, brought about by the introduction in 1980 offinesforfailing to wear a
crash helmet, was not followed by increases in thefts of cars or bicycles. This may have been
because bike or car thefts do not offer a similar combination of costs and benefits for the offender
as opportunistic thefts of motorcycles. More generally, it appears that a 'rational choice'
perspective on crime is likely to result in more fruitful analysis of displacement.

Advocates   of 'situational prevention' (Clarke 1983; Heal  and  Laycock
1986)  encounter  particular difficulties in dealing with the criticism that
the  effectiveness of opportunity-reducing  measures   is undermined   by
displacing offenders' activities to other times, places, targets, or types of
crime  (Reppetto  1976; Gabor  1981; Trasler 1986). Indeed, displacement
has  often  been  shown:   for instance  by  the rise in  thefts of older
unprotected  vehicles following the introduction of steering column  locks
for new vehicles in the United Kingdom  in 1971 (Mayhew   et al. 1976), and
by an  increase in street robberies after successful action against muggings
in the New  York subway   system (Chaiken,  Lawless and  Stevenson 1974).
These  studies, together with a larger number  of less conclusive pieces of
research, have  made  it easy for critics to argue that displacement is the
inevitable result of opportunity-reducing  measures.  This  is difficult to
disprove  as the  offences targetted by  situational measures  frequently
comprise  only a  small proportion of the total volume  of crime, and,  to
date,  evidence  which  suggests  that displacement  is not  inevitable is
provided  by only a few studies: on the introduction of slug-proof parking
meters  in New York  (Decker 1972); of action against prostitution in North
London   (Matthews   1986); and  of detoxification of the British domestic
gas supply  which led to a substantial decline in suicide (Kreitman 1976;
Clarke  and Mayhew 1988).
   A further difficulty for supporters of situational prevention is that most


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