The Economics of Transport Law Enforcement



The Economics of Transport Law Enforcement

Authors

BLACK I, Cranfield University, BROWN My Halcrow Fox, GRAYSON S, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, UK

Description

At a conservative estimate E250M is spent annually on modelling and evaluation activities that are used to guide decisions about the allocation of resources into the fields of transport infrastructure development, traffic management and transport operatio

Abstract

At a conservative estimate E250M is spent annually on modelling and evaluation activities that are used to guide decisions about the allocation of resources into the fields of transport infrastructure development, traffic management and transport operations. The methods used in modelling transport movement and the framework used in evaluation is clearly (if not perhaps fully) defined. Economic principles have had an important influence in both model development and the derivation of parameters used in evaluation. By implication the effort put into this activity is assumed to lead to a more efficient and effective allocation of resources - to such an extent that it justifies the expenditure. Measuring the benefits of better decision making, however, is not an easy matter.

If it is assumed that the current expenditure and associated framework is justified in these areas of transport, it seems worthwhile asking if a similar framework might not be developed and justified in the area of law enforcement in transport. Partly in response to this question The Department of Transport (as it then was) commissioned Halcrow Fox and Crdeld University to undertake research into the feasibility of developing an economic framework for the optimal allocation of resources to transport law enforcement. The project, which forms the basis of this paper, comprised a review of published literature on the subject and an analysis of the feasibility and potential form of such a framework.

The broad conclusion was that a feasible economic framework for resource allocation decisions does exist. The theoretical basis is relatively well developed, having been slrst put forward by the Chicago School economist Gary Becker in 1968. Based on the economistÕs concepts of social cost and utility, it sets as its target the minimisation of the social cost of offences. This categoy includes all the costs of offences including the sum of enforcement and social damage costs. Minimisation is achieved by manipulation of two deterrence variables, the certainty and severity of sanctions which are both under the control of a (usually) public authority.

Subsequent research has indicated some theoretical and practical issues which need to be resolved in advance of widespread application, including the treatment of equity and the accommodation of the framework within the existing decision-making procedures of enforcement institutions (see Pyle, 1983, Ehrlich, 1996). A number of enhancements to the basic framework have been identified. Previous transportation research had tested the applicability of the framework in the field of parking regulation enforcement (Brown, 1991) and traffic management @lack et al, 1991) and found it capable of producing useful directions to enforcement policy. Further, desk based, case studies undertaken for the project suggest it is also applicable to a number of other transport related offence types, e.g. speeding, drink-driving and fares evasion.

The project concluded by suggesting applications of the enforcement framework at both strategic and micro levels to improve the quality of decision making within the transport law sector, and made recommendations for further research into the detailed applicability of the enhanced framework.

Publisher

Association for European Transport