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Five tests for a theory of the crime drop
Professor Graham Farrell
A range of explanations have been proposed for the major crime declines experienced in many industrialised countries. They include: lead poisoning; abortion legalisation; drug markets; demographics; policing numbers and strategies; imprisonment; strong economies; the death penalty; gun control; gun concealment; immigration; consumer confidence; the civilising process, and; crime opportunities and security. This paper proposes five tests that it is necessary if not sufficient for a hypothesis to pass to be considered viable. It finds that fourteen of the fifteen hypotheses fail two or more tests. Crime opportunity theory generally, and a security hypothesis specific to car theft, offer a greater theoretical flexibility in relation to the tests, and pave the way for further research on this issue.