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.