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The Place-based Effects of Police Stations on Crime: Evidence from Station Closures

Many countries consolidate their police forces by closing down local police stations. Police stations represent an important and visible aspect of the organization of police forces. We provide novel evidence on the effect of centralizing police offices through the closure of local police stations on crime outcomes. Combining matching with a difference-in-differences specification, we find an increase in reported car theft and burglary in residential properties. Our results are consistent with a negative shift in perceived detection risks and are driven by heterogeneous station characteristics. We can rule out alternative explanations such as incapacitation, crime displacement, and changes in police employment or strategies at the regional level. We argue that criminals are less deterred due to a lower visibility of the local police.

15. March 2022

Authors Sebastian Blesse André Diegmann

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