Using classical music to drive down crime: does it work?

Posted on: January 12, 2018

“Pittsburgh was the first city in the U.S. to broadcast classical music in its subway stations,” in 1986, reports Jeremy Reynolds in Thursday’s (1/11) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Just a year before, 7-Eleven stores in British Columbia, Canada started broadcasting classical music as part of an effort to curb loitering. Combined with other initiatives, the chain reported success … sparking an international trend in using classical music to drive down crime…. Lily Hirsch [author of the 2007 book] ‘Music in American Crime Prevention and Punishment’ … explains that those who don’t want to be associated with this music … are less likely to congregate in areas marked by Mendelssohn or Mussorgsky…. Many … cities’ efforts were not confined to music alone…. One such push in the London Tube in 2003 was reported to have cut robberies by 33 percent, staff assaults by 25 percent and vandalism by 37 percent…. [The London Tube] crime-fighting strategy … also involved improved lighting, greater staff visibility, more reassurance policing and … additional security cameras…. The idea that classical music can act as a moralizing force or crime deterrent persists … even though there’s been no formal statistical analysis in the 30 years since 7-Eleven established the trend.”

Posted January 12, 2018