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  • Wilson & Kelling- The theory of the 'broken windows'.
  • Control theory is linked to an influential approach to policing commonly known as the theory of broken windows. The theory suggests there is a direct correlation between the appearance of disorder and actual crime. 
  • If a single broken window is allowed to go unrepaired in a neighbourhood it sends a message to potential offenders that neither police nor local residents are committed to the upkeep of the community.
  • In time, the broken window will be joined by further signs of disorder- graffiti, litter, vandalism and abandoned vehicles. The area will begin a gradual process of decay in which respectable residents will seek to leave and will be replaced by 'deviant' newcomers such as drug deal and the homeless.
  • This theory has served as the basis for so-called zero tolerance policing, an approach that emphasises the ongoing process of maintaining order as the key to reducing serious crime. Zero tolerance policing targets petty crime, vandalism, loitering etc.
  • A disadvantage of this theory is that it leaves it to the police to identify 'social disorder' in whatever way they want. Without a systematic definition of disorder, the police are authorized to se almost anything as a sign of disorder and anyone as  a threat.
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