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An International Crime Decline: Lessons for Social Welfare Crime Policy?


Paul Knepper, Professor of Criminology, Department of Sociological Studies, Sheffield University, Sheffield S10 2TU, UK. Email:


During the past two decades, crime rates have declined in Europe and North America. A number of explanations have been offered for why this has come about, but there has been much less discussion about what governments should do now. This article considers the policy implications of an international crime decline with a focus on the relationship between crime reduction and social welfare. The discussion here includes the possibility of a convergence across social welfare improvements, the danger of misreading the USA as a trend-setter, the potential of the Scandinavian way in situational crime prevention, the chance of persistence in high-crime politics and the dilemma of realizing social policy objectives from crime reduction initiatives.