European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 441-458

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The economics of pre-crime interventions

  • Peter van WijckAffiliated withFaculty of Law, Department of Economics, Leiden UniversityStrategy Department, Dutch Ministry of Safety and Justice Email author 


Several observers suggest that we may have undergone a shift from a post-crime to a pre-crime society in which the principal focus has become the pursuit of security by anticipating and forestalling future harms, rather than responding retrospectively to harms that have actually happened. This paper is about the economics of pre-crime interventions. It investigates the welfare consequences of risk assessment and early interventions to prevent individuals from engaging in criminal activities. Furthermore, it deals with the question of what constitutes an optimal application of risk assessment and early intervention. Finally, it presents three rules of thumb to identify conditions where pre-crime intervention may be welfare enhancing.


Risk Assessment Early Intervention

JEL classification