Race, ethnicity and crime

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Race, ethnicity and crime
The issues of race and crime
While there has been sociological interest into the issue of race and crime since the
nineteenth century where it was the primarily those of Irish descent who were considered to
be particularly likely to be involved in crime Phillips and Bowling argue that it was not until
the 1970s following the first experience of mass immigration after the war from colonies that
the issue of race and crime became a central one for criminologists, due largely to the
massive overrepresentation of African and Caribbean people who were imprisoned in
Britain. This overrepresentation initially raised three crucial questions, firstly whether or not it
was due to these particularly ethnic groups actually being more criminal than others and if so
where did this penchant for criminality come from and if not then was it due to institutional
discrimination and racism that led to the large proportion of black inmates, and finally once
we establish which of these two questions is the truth then what are we to do about the issue
itself, what practical solutions can we draw from it?
As criminology branched out to cover more and more issues it began to study the social
composition of victims (a branch termed victimology) and this included from the 1990s
onwards consideration of the relationship between ethnicity and victimisation, including
victimisation by the state. Perhaps the most obvious occurrence that spurned this focus on
ethnicity within victimology was the findings of the McPherson Enquiry into the investigation
of the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence which despite there being large
amounts of evidence both regarding the racial motivation of the crime and the identity of the
perpetrators there was no conviction until 2012 (over 18 years later). Lord McPherson
concluded that the failings of the investigation was not due to the incompetence of the
officers involved or the racism of the individuals but rather was the consequence of inherent,
institutional racism (this is the term institutional racism originates). This for many proved their
previously held beliefs that the police force was a racially discriminate organisation and has
led to an increase in a lack of trust in the police among ethnic minorities and attempts by
police forces to try and challenge racist elements within their structures, for example by
having minority ethnic quotas for senior positions and the growing prominence of
organisations for minority ethnic officers.
Images of minority ethnic offending
In the 1970s there was a generally held consensus in civil society and the polity that there
was no great difference in crime rates between the majority white population and those in
minority ethnic groups who had largely emigrated from either the Indian subcontinent or the
West Indies during the period of postwar reconstruction at the behest of British
government as there was a smaller `at home' workforce than was necessary for the national
economy to be truly competitive. A 1972 House of Commons report stated that the rate of
AfroCaribbean crime was around the same as that of white crime and the rate among
Asian immigrants was considerably lower. However this was due to change later in the year

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AfroCaribbean men and
street muggings and further into the decade there came to be greater levels of resentment
and tension between AfroCaribbean communities and the police, who began to record
sharp rises in the levels of criminality within this group.…read more

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people beings frauds and probable illegal immigrants. He points to the fact that the Police
Federation magazine had exported its crime epidemic to Britain by deporting convicts along
with other immigrants as evidence of the racial stereotypes that exist within the police force.
Policing the crisis ­ mugging, the state and law & order
A study entitled Policing the Crisis built on the ideas initially espoused by Gilroy.…read more

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Bretton Woods signified the end of the myth of humane capitalism and social democracy
which had led to many workers subscribing to capitalist ideals of economic growth in return
for the promises of high wages, greater participatory democracy and full employment. As
fulfilment of these promises started to wain there was a realisation among the political
conscious members of both the ruling and working class that this would lead to greater class
conflict as capitalism either restructured itself or came to be replaced.…read more

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They argue that the recession hit those in black
communities particularly hard, especially as they were already more likely to be in low paid
work. A large proportion of them suffered job losses and became surplus in the labour
market, what Marx referred to as the `reserve army of labour'.…read more

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Asians in Britain (who
have traditionally been seen as exclusive and to a degree selfsegregating) there has also
been has also been a rise in police and media concern with regards to Asian criminality and
gangs, especially in the wake of series of riots throughout the 1990s.
Lea and Young further criticise Gilroy for his claims that crime within black communities is a
form of political liberation that has survived from the heyday of anticolonial struggle.…read more

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Bengali bad boy image'. This was not only motivated by a desire to fight back against racist
attacks against their communities but also as a way of subverting the passivity imposed on
them by traditional parents and restrictive wider families.…read more

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John Newing, Chief Constable of the Derbyshire police force has
publically acknowledged that there is a considerable tendency of officers to racially
stereotype, especially with regards to black people.…read more

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Two studies that have investigated differe3nces in the conviction and sentencing rates
between ethnic groups which were Phillips and Brown (1998) and Malaga (1999). Both
found that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was more likely to terminate cases where
the defendant was in a minority ethnic group and have put forward two possible reasons for
this.…read more

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The largest selfreport study regarding crime and ethnicity was from data that
was collected as part of the government's Crime and Justice Survey (CJS, 2003) which
was given to a sample of over 10,000 people aged between 12 and 65. Respondents were
asked to report their record of offending in three different categories (theft and property
violence and drugrelated offences) and to provide details of their levels of offending over
the past year and throughout their lives.…read more


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