03 October 2006

Social Policy Bonds to reduce crime

After the high stakes of UK politics and the military coup in Thailand, public affairs in New Zealand seem both parochial and small minded. But news of the larger issues can still be found in the public arena. Violent crime in New Zealand rose by 10 per cent last year; in the Wellington Police District (where I live) there were 5988 violent incidents in the year ended June 2006.

Current policy approaches seem to be failing and there are no simple solutions. These are key criteria that indicate that Social Policy Bonds might improve things. Bonds targeting reduced crime rates could encourage a mosaic of diverse solutions, adapting to local circumstances and events that cannot be anticipated. Highly motivated investors would be rewarded for their success in tackling crime. Their objectives would be congruent with those of society. This contrasts with the current approach, which is inherently cynical: while composed of heroic men and women, police forces as institutions are more likely to be disbanded than rewarded if they were to succeed in slashing crime rates.

No comments: