We conduct a field experiment to examine whether the deterrent effect of law enforcement can be strengthened by making law enforcement activities more salient. Our focus is on illegal disposal of household garbage in residential areas. At a random subset of 56 locations in a city in the Netherlands, law enforcement officers supplemented their regular enforcement activities by the practice of putting bright warning labels on illegally disposed garbage bags saying that the item was “Found by law enforcement; fine minimally 90 euros”. We find evidence for a substantial reduction in illegal disposal of garbage as a result of the treatment at locations with garbage disposal containers, but not at locations with glass/paper disposal containers. Overall, the estimated treatment effect is negative, but imprecisely estimated.
law enforcement deterrence perception salience disorder