Zero Tolerance Policing

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The term “zero tolerance” has been interpreted and used widely in public debate. For this reason there are arguments as to whether it is beneficial to incorporate zero tolerance policing into justice systems globally. The term “Zero Tolerance Policing” is ambiguous. To some, it suggests aggressive law enforcement under which no anti-social behaviours will be tolerated. To others, it refers to a policing strategy carefully designed to combat the crime problems of a specific locality (Australian Institute of Criminology 1999, 1). The purpose of this report is to provide a critical analysis of both the strengths and the weaknesses that the zero tolerance policing model has. This is done by presenting the strengths – targeting minor offences reduces the rate of serious crimes; zero tolerance policing prevents police officer discretion and how the concentration of police power into ‘hot spots’ reduces crime rates. As well as this weaknesses of zero tolerance policing is also discussed – implementing zero tolerance policing is costly; increased police power can affect their relationship with the public and racial and ethical minority groups are targeted under zero tolerance policing. In order to judge the effectiveness of zero tolerance policing, it is important that both its strengths and weaknesses are taken into consideration.

Strengths of Zero Tolerance Policing
It is argued that many minor offences often have relations to more serious criminal activity. Under zero tolerance policing it is believed that the increased risk of arrest for minor offences discourages offenders from committing more deviant crimes (Punch 2008, 17). This increased risk of arrest also discouraged the carrying of firearms, which lead to a ...

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...ates through targeting minor offences and ‘hot spots’ as well as the elimination of individual discretion in regards to domestic violence. However, the introduction of zero tolerance policing also brought with it problems such as discrimination towards minority groups, power abuse and cost. By recognising the links that zero tolerance policing has with these problems, there is already hope for a solution. Though concerning the debate as to whether zero tolerance policing does more harm than good it is suggested that the problems it brings outweighs the strengths it has and as a result the effectiveness of this policing model is negatively impacted on. Zero tolerance policing is by no means the perfect model of policing. In order to be effective it must target both the needs of the public and the police force, at this point however it is not successfully doing so.

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