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Public Order Crime

David Huffer

Subject Law
Deviance and Social Control » Sociology of Crime

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Complex, collective actions, people adjusting, cooperating, accommodating, and compromising in social intercourse, are the constituent elements of civil societies. Binding societies are social meanings and expectations of acceptable behavior, a social fabric. This tacit understanding, shared by residents and users of public spaces, reflects a pervasive sense of civility, mutual responsibility, and morality as well as desires for a pleasurable life and a safe environment. Public order crimes threaten, prevent, or otherwise interfere with these pursuits. Laws maintaining public order focus on physical acts and their residual effects. Physical acts span a menagerie of petty crimes and inappropriate behavior. These include soliciting alms; aggressive panhandling; loitering; obstruction of streets and public spaces; vandalism; unlicensed or unsolicited vending, peddling, or services; public drinking; public intoxication; public urination and defecation; street prostitution; and illegal drug sales. Residual effects of these acts include the presence of graffiti; abandoned cars, homes, and buildings; sustained disrepair; unsupervised, rowdy teens; open prostitution and drug sales; and vacant, trash-filled lots. Though clearly among the least extreme of crimes, such collective victimization has consequences for both real and perceived quality of life that, left unchecked, can spiral communities ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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