Distributive Justice and the Crime Drop

  • Dainis Ignatans
  • Ken Pease


The present chapter seeks to link two of the central facts concerning victimization by crime in the Western world. The first is that the burden of crime is borne very unequally across areas and within areas across households and individuals (Tseloni et al., 2010). The second is that there has been a very substantial cross-national drop in crime as captured by victimization surveys (van Dijk et al., 2007) (Farrell et al., 2010). The authors seek to establish whether the crime drop has resulted in a more or less equitable distribution of crime across households. Inequality of victimization challenges distributive justice. Harms as well as goods should be distributed equitably. Changes in inequality would suggest whether we should regard the crime drop as unequivocally benign (inequality reducing or neutral) or have reservations about its benefits (inequality increasing). The possible outcomes of the analysis have differing implications for criminal justice in general and policing in particular. There is already evidence that policing concentration at least in England and Wales is not proportionate to the presenting crime problem (Ross & Pease, 2008), and reasons have been suggested for this, the writers’ favoured account being labelled the “winter in Florida, summer in Alaska” paradox (Townsley & Pease, 2002).


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© Dainis Ignatans and Ken Pease 2015

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  • Dainis Ignatans
  • Ken Pease

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