The case of Evidence-based Policing

Production function is a function that model the output of a firm or an industry as a function of the resources needed for that output.

In police work the resources can be police officers, cars, communication devices and so on. All with cost tags attached,  just like in any profit driven firm. However the output of security agencies is multifaceted and the services are supplied to the public with no cost, so there is a real problem of finding the optimal allocation of resources.

Most organizations are driven to make decisions based on qualitative assessments or ex-post evaluation of actions. Because prediction are extremely hard to formulate – Can one predict whether putting a country-wide CCD network will reduce crime rates and in what rate? Will the allocation of 20 Million for developing IS technology to track Pedophilia, will reduce it in a worthwhile way? Most will answer that it’s impractically impossible, and indeed projects that have POC stage in them, limit it to the technical aspects alone and not the the effectiveness of it.

But we believe that it’s entirely possible, because somehow, the empirical stage of proving the decision or the solution is still not standard practice within the evaluation process.  Any decision making should be made on solid grounds of evidence and experimental know-how. It should be common practice to test for population change of behavior on a small scale when embarking on large infrastructure projects that target this elusive goal. On a smaller scale of projects it should be mandatory to implement it in stages when possible so as to assess the effectiveness and perform corrections.

Under no circumstances should public spending be done without proof of effectiveness.


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