Less Debate, More Analysis: A Meta-Analysis of Literature on Broken Windows Policing
Distler, Michael Robert
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In their broken windows thesis, Wilson and Kelling (1982) propose that social and physical disorder leads to a breakdown in informal social controls, thereby allowing more serious crime to occur. This framework had a tangible impact on policy, though research has shown mixed results with regard to its effectiveness. This thesis conducts a meta-analysis of 66 effect sizes, nested within eleven studies, in order to better understand the effect of broken windows policing on crime according to the literature. Results show that broken windows policing does have an effect on crime and that methodological characteristics of the studies are related to the effect. The discussion section considers the relationship between these findings and other meta-analyses on policing innovations, such as hot spots and problem-oriented policing.