Police and Thieves in the Stadium

Olivier Marie
Maastricht University, The Netherlands

The impact on local crime rates of hosting large sporting events is complex. It is not limited to the documented increases in violence resulting from (i) the concentration of hostile fans. One must also consider the impact on crime of: (ii) the displacement of police personnel sent to monitor the event and (iii) the voluntary incapacitation of a substantial number of individuals who are assisting it. In this paper I exploit information on football (soccer) matches for nine London teams linked to detailed recorded crime data at the area level to empirically estimate those impacts. Our findings show that only property crime significantly increases in the communities hosting football matches but that they experience no changes in violent offences. These results are robust to controlling for a large number of game type and outcome characteristics. There is no evidence of temporal displacement of criminal activity. Our conceptual model suggests that the away game attendance effect on crime is due to voluntary incapacitation of potential offenders. I argue that the police displacement effect of hosting a match increases property crime by 7 percentage point for every extra 10,000 supporters.

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