Crimes of the Powerful

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  • Crimes of the Powerful
    • White Collar and Corporate Crime
      • White collar crime is defined as ' a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation.
      • There are two different types of crime
        • Occupational crime: committed by employees for their own perosnal gain, often against the organisation they work for e.g. stealing from the company,
        • Corporate Crime: committed by the employees for their organisation in pursuit of its goal e.g. mis-selling products to increase company's profit.
      • Many of the harms caused by the powerful do not break the criminal law
      • Tombs argues that the difference between these types of offences is more about who has the power to define an act as a crime than about how harmful the act is.
    • The Scale and Types of Corporate Crime
      • White collar crime and corporate crimes do far more harm than ordinary or street crime.
      • Tombs notes that corporate crime has enormous costs: physical (deaths, injuries and illnesses), environmental (pollution) and economic (to consumers, workers, taxpayers and governments).
      • Corporate crime covers a wide range of acts and omissions including the following
        • Financial crimes.
        • Crimes against consumers.
        • Crimes against employees.
        • Crimes against the environment.
        • Self-corporate crime.
      • This is important because private companies now work alongside the government in many areas.
        • For example, private companies contracted in the US military have been accused of involvement in the torture of Iraqi detainees.
    • The Abuse of Trust
      • High-statis professionals occupy positions of trust and respectability such as finances, health, security and personal information.
        • Carrabine et a; argues that their positions and status give them opportunity to abuse this trust.
      • Accountants  and lawyers can be employed by criminal organisations and can also act corruplty by inflating fees, committing forgey and illegal diverting of money.
      • Sutherland argues that this makes white collar crime a greater threat to society.
        • This is because it promotes cynicism and distrust of basic social institutions and undermines the fabric of society.
    • Invisibility of Corporate Crime
      • Compared with street crime, the crimes of the powerful are relatively invisible, and when not, they are often not seen as 'real' crime.
      • The media: gives limited coverage to corporate crime, they describe corporate crime in sanitised language, as technical infringements rather than real crime.
      • Lack of political will: politicians being tough on crime is focused on street crime and not corporate crime.
      • The crimes are often complex: law enforcers are often understaffed, under-resourced and lacking technical expertise to investigate effectively.
      • De-labelling: corporate crime is consistently filtered out from the process of criminalisation.


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