Broken Windows Theory Busted?

The Broken Windows theory suggests that a high concentration of small, petty crimes leads to a higher incidence of bigger, nastier crimes. Some European cities run counter to that premise, according to this piece from <em>Next American City</em>.
September 21, 2009, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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Ben Adler looks at Berlin and Copenhagen and finds the crime trends don't match the idea behind Broken Windows.

"Increasingly, criminologists are challenging Broken Windows' hegemonic grasp on urban public policy. My travels in Europe have convinced me, once a Broken Windows believer, that it is largely a lot of hokum. Let the pot dealers return to Washington Square Park, the graffiti sit indefinitely on the mailboxes, the hookers wander Times Square, and I'm not at all sure you'd see an increase in violent crime as a result.

Berlin, Germany, a city of 3.4 million, is rife with symbols of social disorder. Sitting at a bar's outdoor table you're liable to smell hash wafting over from the table next to you, and to be offered it while walking through some of the city's parks. Prostitution is legal. If there are any open container laws, they are completely unenforced. Beer is drunk openly on the streets and the metro.

And yet there is very little crime."

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Published on Friday, September 18, 2009 in Next American City
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