Is it an issue of what you decide is illegal, or how good your police are, or how strict your sentencing policy is?
I like this idea:
[quote]One of the Patrician’s greatest contributions to the reliable operation of Ankh-Morpork had been, very early in his administration, the legalising of the ancient Guild of Thieves. Crime was always with us, he reasoned, and therefore, if you were going to have crime, it at least should be organised crime.
And so the Guild had been encouraged to come out of the shadows and build a big Guildhouse, take their place at civic banquets, and set up their training college with day-release courses and City and Guilds certificates and everything. In exchange for the winding down of the Watch, they agreed, while trying to keep their faces straight, to keep crime levels to a level to be determined annually. That way, everyone could plan ahead, said Lord Vetinari, and part of the uncertainty had been removed from the chaos that is life.
And then, a little while later, the Patrician summoned the leading thieves again and said, oh, by the way, there was something else. What was it, now? Oh, yes . . .
I know who you are, he said. I know where you live. I know what kind of horse you ride. I know where your wife has her hair done. I know where your lovely children, how old are they now, my, doesn’t time fly, I know where they play. So you won’t forget about what we agreed, will you? And he smiled.
So did they, after a fashion.
And in fact it had turned out very satisfactorily from everyone’s point of view. It took the head thieves a very little time to grow paunches and start having coats-of-arms made and meet in a proper building rather than smoky dens, which no-one had liked much. A complicated arrangement of receipts and vouchers saw to it that, while everyone was eligible for the attentions of the Guild, no-one had too much, and this was very acceptable–at least to those citizens who were rich enough to afford the quite reasonable premiums the Guild charged for an uninterrupted life. There was a strange foreign word for this: inn-sewer-ants. No-one knew exactly what it had originally meant, but Ankh-Morpork had made it its own.
The Watch hadn’t liked it, but the plain fact was that the thieves were far better at controlling crime than the Watch had ever been. After all, the Watch had to work twice as hard to cut crime just a little, whereas all the Guild had to do was to work less.[/quote]