This news story made me smile:
Police to measure "the cost of crime"
SINGAPORE: In what will be the first study of its kind here, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) will commission an academic study to calculate the cost of the different types of crime committed here.
Modelled after a United Kingdom (UK) government research paper - The Economic and Social Costs of Crime - the study plans to use a "social cost approach" to measure the cost of crime in Singapore.
In response to Today's queries, police spokesperson Choo Hong Xian said the study "would provide valuable insights into operational policy-making, resource reallocation and police's strategies to deliver the mission".
The police release statistics on the overall crime situation here every six months but they relate usually to the number of cases, identifying key crime concerns and providing crime prevention advisories.
According to tender documents released last week, the study aims to derive the annual total cost of crime last year and "a preceding period stipulated" by the police. The final report from the study is expected to be delivered to the SPF within four months of the award of the tender, which closes on July 18.
Overall crime here fell by 0.6 per cent last year but the police highlighted three key crime concerns - cheating cases involving rental scams and phone scams, fighting youth crime and outrage of modesty cases.
The study aims to calculate the costs incurred as a consequence of crime, which includes "monetary loss in traditional terms" and "monetising the loss of life and trauma suffered by victims".
Costs of crime prevention and enforcement will also be tallied. The study seeks to find out costs borne by private entities - such as security expenditure and insurance - as well as costs borne by public bodies such as proactive police patrols in anticipation of crime.The police also intend to calculate the costs incurred in response to crime - investigating cases, apprehending suspects as well as the costs expended by the State in prosecuting, convicting and incarcerating suspects.
Several Members of Parliament had previously raised concerns over police resources being stretched. During the Committee of Supply debate in March, then-Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam pointed out that while police resources will be increased, "they are not limitless".
While costs of crime prevention - such as installing alarm systems - and the State's response to crime could be measured, sociologist Paulin Straughan felt it might be "impossible" to measure the social costs of a spate of violence on a community. Social isolation and mistrust from these crimes would impact social capital on a community which would be difficult to estimate, she argued.
However, the former Nominated Member of Parliament felt calculating the cost of crime would serve as "a reality check" for any society.
"We live in a world that is driven by economics," Associate Professor Straughan said. "We can't understand or appreciate unless it is documented in dollars and cents. So, this is one way of documenting it (crime) in dollars and cents to show you that every burglary cost you this (amount) … and highlight the importance of crime prevention."
The UK study, published by its Home Office in 2000, found that crime in England and Wales cost society £60 billion (S$118.8 billion) a year, or more than £1,000 for every person.
Every murder cost the country an estimated £1.1 million, vehicle theft and robbery £4,800 and criminal damage £510 pounds, according to the Home Office report.
Assistant Professor Irene Ng Yue Hoong, who researches on youth crime and poverty at the National University of Singapore, felt any study on the costs of crime control should take into consideration the benefits from a decrease in crime.
"Do the marginal costs of crime control justify the marginal benefits from the marginal decrease in crime?" she wondered. "It will be interesting to study whether Singapore's crime control is at an optimal level in terms of the marginal benefits net of marginal costs."
As with healthcare and other valuable services, police work costs money; but as the cost is not borne by the user, the true cost is hidden and abuse occurs. Does this study by the SPF signal a desire on the part of the government to shift the cost of security from the public to the direct consumers? I certainly hope so. Now there will be people who will tell you that you cannot put a price on security (and health) - the truth is, you can: they just don't want to pay for it.
This news story made me smile: