Transport Law Enforcement: a Framework for the Optimisation of Economic Benefits
Mark Brown, Halcrow, UK
This paper reports on the development of an economic methodology that allows investment in levels of enforcement within the transport sector to be optimised with potential for significant social benefits.
A growing number of opportunities exist for using enforcement as a means of managing and enhancing the performance of operations, infrastructure and traffic management proposals within the transport sector. Schemes which may benefit include congestion charging, parking, speed management and goods vehicle restrictions. Economic principles, which under-pin most appraisal methods, are widely accepted to lead to a more efficient and effective allocation of both public and private sector resources. It follows that economics may present a means of optimising investment in enforcement resources and maximising scheme outputs.
This paper reports on the development of an economic methodology that allows investment in levels of enforcement within the transport sector to be optimised. An established economic framework is described which incorporates both the social cost of enforcement and that of the damage resulting from offences. The framework also includes a behavioural model for forecasting levels of offending, based on perceived levels of the certainty and severity of sanctions. This draws upon deterrence theory from other areas of the criminal justice system.
The paper goes on to describe the application of this framework in several transport case studies, including speed management, congestion charging and illegal parking. The case studies draw upon both real and hypothetical data in order to assess the potential for optimising both the resource inputs to the enforcement process and the economic outcomes. The case studies investigate how maximisation of economic benefits require that an ?optimal level of offending? be identified. This recognises that too high a level of enforcement incurs both too high a resource cost and deters certain behaviour that is potentially beneficial. It can also result in sub-optimal financial revenues. Too low a level of enforcement results in high social damage costs. This has particular and topical implications for the design of congestion charging schemes.
The case studies also explore the modelling of offending behaviour and issues around the public acceptability of such an economic approach. The wider application of this economic model would require a more systematic approach to the collection of data on offending behaviour in order to provide the necessary modelling inputs. It would also require acceptance of explicit decisions on how many offences should be permitted. Whilst such decisions are currently implicit in both traffic management and policing policy a more explicit approach raises a variety of important strategic and moral issues.
Finally, the paper concludes on the scope for the application of an economic framework for the management of enforcement activities and resources and suggests areas for further research.
Association for European Transport