White-collar crime will flourish so long as our corporate enforcer's hands remain tied
Most legal historians draw a direct correlation between the phasing out of public executions and the phasing in of modern uniformed police forces. The function of the public execution in earlier times was not solely punitive. Rather it was intended to operate as a dramatic and grizzly demonstration of the wages of sin – pour encourager les autres.
While such public displays no doubt had their desired effect on the gullible and uneducated, more cunning criminals were less likely to be deterred as the chances of detection, investigation and prosecution remained slight. Thus the introduction of the modern uniformed police force – an obvious physical presence on the street which deterred and dis-incentivised the commission of crime while simultaneously making detection and punishment a much more likely prospect.
This lesson seems to have been entirely forgotten in the current debate about the investigation and prosecution of white-collar and regulatory offences. Perhaps because policing of this sort is an expense not to be countenanced in the current climate.