Background

Thereis a growing and widespread perception among the population that, over time,crime has grown more prevalent and serious. During the last half century it hasbeen reported that people are now much more fearful of crime than in earliertimes. They are experiencing heightened anxiety about going out after dark,about their homes being burgled, and about becoming the victims of violence.

Statisticsabout crime and delinquency are probably the least reliable of all officiallypublished figures on social issues. We cannot take official statistics at facevalue, but must pay attention to the way in which those statistics weregenerated.

Themost basic limitation of official crime statistics is that they only includecrimes actually recorded by the police. There is a long chain of problematicdecisions between possible crime and its registration by the police. Themajority of crimes, especially petty thefts, are never reported to the policeat all. Even in the case of violent crimes, more than one third of the victimschoose not to contact the police, claiming that it is a private affair orsomething they have dealt with themselves. As a result of partial reporting andpartial recording of crimes, the official crime statistics reflect only aportion of overall offences.

Policeforces have been expanded in response to growing crime. When crime rates are onthe rise, there is almost inevitably public clamor for putting more police ‘on thestreet’. But the greater number of police has not translated into lower crimerates. Preventing crime, and reducing fear of crime, are both closely relatedto rebuilding strong communities. Police should work closely with citizens toimprove local community standards and civil behavior, using education,persuasion, and counseling instead of incarceration.

‘Communitypolicing’ implies not only drawing in citizens themselves, but also changingthe characteristic outlook of police forces.

Social Distribution of Crime

Thereis a variation in the distribution of crime by social characteristics i.e.gender, age, social class, ethnicity, locality. Does it mean that someindividuals or groups more likely to commit crimes, or to become the victims ofcrime. Research and statistics show that crime and victimization are notrandomly distributed among the population. For example men are more likely thanwomen to commit crimes; the young are more often involved in crime than olderpeople; poor areas generally have higher crime rates than better off areas; theethnic minorities experience higher rates of victimization; individuals livingin inner city run a greater risk of becoming victims than those living insuburban areas.

Gender and Crime

Nationaland international data show that:

• Crimes are highlyconcentrated among men.

• There is an imbalance inthe ratio of men to women in prison.

• There are contrastsbetween the types of crimes men and women commit. (Women are rarely involved inviolence. Petty thefts, prostitutions are typical female offenses).

Inreality gender differences in crime rates may be less pronounced. Reasons maybe:

• Certain crimesperpetrated by women go unreported. Domestic role provide them the opportunityto commit crimes at home and in private sphere and these go unreported.

• Women regarded asnaturally deceitful and highly skilled at covering up their crimes. Supposedlygrounded in their biology that they can hide their pain and discomfort.

• Women offenders aretreated more leniently because male police officers tend to adopt a‘chivalrous’ attitude towards them. Questionable. Since women appear to be lessdangerous, therefore officers may let them go. Also they are less likely to beimprisoned than male offenders.

• Leniency toward women shownby criminal justice system is also questioned because women are treated moreharshly than men in cases where they allegedly deviated from the norms offemale sexuality. They may be considered as ‘doubly deviant’ i.e. broken thelaw plus flouted appropriate female behavior. For sexually promiscuous girlsare more often taken onto custody than boys.

Hereone could refer to double standards where male aggression and violence is seenas natural phenomenon, explanations for female offences are sought in psychologicalimbalance.

• Female lawbreakers oftenescape because they are able to persuade the police and other authorities.

Theytry to get special treatment under “gender contract’ – an implicit contractbetween men and women whereby (1) to be a woman is to be erratic and impulsive,and (2) women need protection by men.

Womenvictims don’t report crime due to the humiliating process of medicalexamination, police interrogations and courtroom cross-examinations.

Somestudies have shown some correlation between an increase in female criminalityand the movement for women’s liberation.

Age and Crime

Officialcrime rates rise sharply during adolescence and peak during the late teens, andthereafter fall. In the USA young people are becoming responsible for seriouscrimes. Between 1987 and 1996, arrests of juveniles for violent crimes shot upto 60 percent. The offenses like theft, burglary, assault, and rape (calledstreet crimes) are all associated with young working class males. Is it due tomoral breakdown? Is it due to increasing permissiveness? May be both.

In UKthere are high rates of offence among youth. In 1997, 40 percent of alloffenders cautioned or convicted were under 21 years. The peak age foroffending boys and girls was 18.

Therecould also be the matters of definition of crime. Youth revolts may beerroneously considered as crimes.

Social Class and Crime

Thereis an impression that criminality is more widespread among people of lowersocial class. It is a mistake to assume that being socially disadvantaged meansbeing criminal. Many wealthy and powerful people carry out crimes whoseconsequences can be much more far-reaching than the often petty crimes of thepoor.

If weextend our definition of crime beyond street offences to include white-collarcrime, then the ‘common criminal’ looks affluent.

White-Collar Crime

Theconcept of white-collar crime was first introduced by Sutherland in his book White-Collar Crime in 1949.

Itrefers to the crimes carried by those in the more affluent sectors of thesociety. ‘Crimes committedby persons of high social status and respectability in the course of theiroccupation’ (Sutherland).

Theterm covers many types of criminal activity, including tax frauds, illegal salepractices, securities and land frauds, embezzlement, the manufacture and saleof dangerous products as well as straight theft. The distribution ofwhite-collar crimes is even harder to measure than that of other types ofcrime.

White-collarcrimes can be divided into two categories by power of the affluent. Firstlythose crimes that mainly involves the use of middle class or professionalposition to engage in illegal activities. Secondly

Crimes of the powerful are those in which the authority conferred by a position is used incriminal ways – as when an official accepts a bribe to favor a particularpolicy.

Thecost of the white-collar crimes is much higher than the crimes by the lowerclass. In the USA in 1986, it has been calculated the amount of money involvedin white-collar crime (defined as tax fraud, insurance frauds, home improvementfrauds and car repair frauds) is forty times as great as that in ordinarycrimes against property (robberies, burglaries, latency, forgeries, and carthefts)

Corporate Crime

Offensescommitted by large corporations in society. Pollution, mislabeling, violationsof health and safety regulations affect much larger number of people than pettycriminality. The increasing power and influence of large corporations, andtheir rapidly growing global reach means that our lives are touched by them inmany ways. Corporations are involved in producing cars that we drive and thefood we eat. They also have an enormous effect on the natural environment andfinancial markets, aspects of life, which affect all of us.

Slapperand Tombs (1999) have listed six types of violations by corporations:

Administrative (non-compliance of rules).

Environmental (pollution, permits violations resulting in disasters. Victims).

Financial (tax violations, permits violations).

Labor (working conditions, hiring practices).

Manufacturing (product safety, labeling).

Unfair tradingpractices (anti-competition, false advertising)

Victimsof corporate crime don’t see themselves as such.

Difficultto see as a victim of whom? Who is the perpetrator? Great distance in time andspace when the offence was committed and its appearance.

Don’tknow who has victimized, how to seek redress for crime.

Effectsof corporate crime are often experienced unevenly in society.

Poor workers are victims of pollution, safety hazards.

Violentaspects of corporate crime are less visible than in cases of homicide.

Pollution leading to physical harm/death, and thereare side effects of drugs as well as contraceptives. Such crimes are often seenas ‘complaint-less’.

Organizedcrime syndicate such as the mafiamay choose to resemble legitimate business but employ corrupt or illegalorganizations to secure loan repayment, avoid taxes or to discipline labor.

Organizedcrime refers to the forms of business that appears to be legal but actually isillegal. It embraces smuggling, illegal gambling (sports, lotteries, and horseraces), drug trade, prostitution, large-scale theft, and protection rackets. Itoften relies on violence or threat of violence to conduct its activities.

Ithas become increasingly transnational networks in scope. It provides illegalgoods and services to mass consumer (Money laundering, sale of nuclearmaterial)

Internationalorganized crime greatly facilitated by recent advances in informationtechnology. Advances in technology have provided exciting new opportunities andbenefits, but they also heighten vulnerability to crime. Cyber-crime i.e.criminal acts committed with the help of information technology are alreadythere.

Theexamples of technology based crimes are: eves-dropping, electronic vandalismand terrorism, pornography, telemarketing fraud, stealing telecommunicationsservices, electronic funds transfer crimes, electric money laundering, criminalconspiracies

Ethnicity and Crime

Bothrace and ethnicity are strongly correlated to crime rates.

In UKand in USA far more blacks than whites brought to court and sent to prison.

Explanation:

Prejudicerelated to color or class prompts white police to arrest black people morereadily and leads citizens more willingly to report African Americans to policeas suspected offenders, which means that people of color are overlycriminalized. It is just racism.

Racein USA closely relates to social standing and affects one’s likelihood of engagingin street crime. Blacks mostly belong to working class (or under class). Poorpeople living in midst of affluence come to perceive society as unjust. Theyare more likely to suffer from the feeling of relative deprivation and are morelikely to turn to crime.

Blackand white family patterns differ. In US 2/3rds of the black children (comparedto one-fifth of white children) are born to single mothers. They have lesssupervision and high risk of growing up in poverty, hence more chances ofcriminality.

Officialcrime index excludes white-collar crimes, which are more committed by whites.This omission contributes to the view of the typical criminal as a person ofcolor.

Differentethnic backgrounds are related to crime rates. In UK the Asians and the Africansdiffered in their expectations at new place.

Alsothey had different cultural and colonial background. It has been seen that thelocal Asian communities support the new entrants but for blacks there appearsto be no such resource. Blacks have been found in situations that encounteredracism. Blacks’ resistance to discrimination got politicized in mid 1970s. The youngblacks got stereotyped with mugging problem, hence got extra attention bypolice with the impression that the black immigrants had difficulties inobserving the rule of law. Therefore they got to be disciplined and punished.It amounted to racism

Theblack’s behavior may have been due to their sense of relative deprivation,their subculture, their marginalization, and willingness to challenge law andorder by the youth.

[Marginalization:Young blacks feel that they have been pushed to the edge of society –Doing lesswell in school, getting badly paid jobs, -being likely to be unemployed, andfew outlets for political expression.

Relative deprivation: greater expectation of material success.

[Subculturesemerge due to mismatch between aspirations and the constraints of reality.]

Somecategories of population have usually low rates of arrest, and Asians are oneof those. They have higher than average educational achievements, good jobs,and above average income. Also