Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crime stops paying

I suppose you could say this is another case of the middle class falling back into poverty:  or more hopefully: changing careers.

There is a general consensus that hard times bring crime.  The general consensus has not been correct for this particular downturn.  Flashmobs aside (they used to call it wilding) the trend toward lower overall crime has continued through the downturn.
It is a complex subject, but I have always felt that the fact that we have started locking up more people within the cohort that tends to commit crimes is somewhat of a factor, but that the bigger factor is that technology has improved the effective punishment rate to where crime simply does not pay.  As an example, the once common crime of pick pocketing (link NYT), is almost gone.
One area that has somewhat resisted this trend is drug trafficking.   With some of the more organized criminal operations involved, they have at times used technology to their advantage; creating new products, and finding novel methods of smuggling.
Apparently however, the drug trade has not been immune to the downturn: at least not everywhere.
Conor Lally, Irish Times, 2 July 2011 (Hat tip:  MR).
After 15 years of market growth, drug gangs are struggling with collapsed consumer demand and a liquidity crisis…

Irish drug gangs have been contending with collapsed demand for almost three years. Drug seizures, which mirror trends in the overall drug market, are down from the peaks of 2007 and 2008, and drug-related arrests and shootings have both fallen dramatically.

After 15 years of huge growth the trade has crashed, alongside the wider economy. Stockbroking firms don’t report on the condition of the cocaine business, but crime data from a number of sources reveal that the drug trade has contracted significantly in the recession and is now just as distressed as the housing market.

Garda [Irish Police] sources point out that most people who use drugs do so for recreational reasons and are not addicted. “It means that when they have less money in their pockets to buy drugs, they are able to stop. And that’s what we’re seeing now all over the country,” says a senior garda.

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