crime control, prevention and punishment

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  • Created by: Tom
  • Created on: 14-04-14 19:43

The Criminal Justice System

England and Wales - police, community support officers, crown prosecution, criminal courts, probation service, youth offending teams, prisons.

  • Incapacitation - prevents offender from committing further crime. Includes imprisonment, restraining orders, ASBOs, keeping offenders away from people/areas, some countries chemical castration and capital punishment
  • rehabilitation - reforming offenders, therapy and anger management
  • deterrence - recieving stiff sentences to discourage people from reoffending - 3 strike rule
  • retribution - the offender has transgruessed against society and must abide by the set punishment
  • police and other agents of control, such as traffic wardens, patrol to discourage offenders.

Marxists and social constructionists make light of street crime and condemn the CJS for targetting w/c offenders, realists argue high crime figures must be taken seriously for the sake of victims. 

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Right realism

  • also known as New Right - build on functionalist view that an orderly society benefits the majority. Support capitalism, blieve hard work and enterprise should be rewarded. Less succesful individuals may take the rational choice to improve their life by committing crime - they must be detterred by amking crime harder to commit and punishments harsher.
  • Wilson and Herrnstein - Crime and Human Nature(1985) - additional reasons for crime:
  • aspects of genetic inheritance, such as aggression and hyperactivity
  • youth, as puberty brings desires that young people often cannot fulfil. Find it hard to delay gratification and often  unsupervised, especially young males.
  • the influence of alcohol
  • anti-social messages from mass media
  • secularisation and declining moral attitudes
  • increasing number of consumer goods to steal
  • lack of a secure family upbringing. Responsible mothering crucial in socialisation.
  • simply creating more equal society would not prevent crime. Wilson found no correlation between relative deprivation and property crime. Where an individual was criminal and unemployed, both could be explained by anti-social attitudes.
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Right realism

  • Right libertarians, such a Robert Nozick(1974) oppose extending welfare benefits. They believe it creates a dependency culture, discouraging people from seeking work and penalising emplyees though tax. The gov. shouldn't engage in social engineering to imrove circumstances of poor people. Laws should be kept to a minimum, so acts that harm only the perpetrator, such as drug taking, should be legal, allowing police to focus on crimes that harm others.


  • suggestions welfare benefits should be stopped to make people less dependent are inhumane and impractical.
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Right Realism - zero tolerance

  • Wilson believe one cause of crime was anti-social attitudes and that they would worsen if left unchecked. 
  • Zero tolerance = surveillance and discouragement by police and community support officers of any act that would depress an area's moral tone, even if not criminal. This concept reflected in broken windows theory.


there is a human rights breach if police are allowed to move people on who are not breaking the law - could affect some social groups disproportionately. 

New Right disagree on whether laws should discriminate between victimless crimes and those with victims, and whether police should employ zero tolerance by responding to all anti social acts.

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Right Realism - Administrative criminology

  • many New Right take little interests in causes of crime - there approach is finding ways of discouraging crime.
  • designing out crime - eliminating areas such as underpasses where criminal activity takes place.
  • situational crime prevention - anticipating where criminals might strike and reducing opportunities by using CCTV, alarms, property marking, electronic gates and other forms of target-hardening.


  • situational crime deters opportunists but proffessional criminals find ay to circumvent it or do their crime in less protected place - displacement
  • their work can barely be considered as sociology as they are not interested in the social causes of crime.
  • Left criticise them for lack of interest in creating fairer society
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Left Realism

Left realism is a response to left idealism or Marxism.

  • Jock Young and John Lea - What Is To Be Done About Law and Order?(1984) - increasing rates of w/c crime serious issue that must be dealt with. Young believed much crime caused by:
  • relative deprivation - people on low income/unemployed due to structural changes frustrated at being unable to afford consumer goods 
  • marginalisation - w/c felt unable to improve their situation through trade unions or political parties. Ethnic minorities suffered discrimination.People who didn't feel bonded were less likely to intervene/prevent/report local crime
  • Subcultures - criminal subcultures developed in some areas - marginalised people drawn in to them
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Left Realism(cont.)

to reduce crime, lea and Young suggested:

  • changes in policing - conflict/military style policing - police covering large areas by car, but causes the officers to scarecely know community members as so they resort to stop and searches. The better alternative was community policing - officers patrol small areas on foot getting to know likely offenders and being more welcoming to the public. Especially recommomended for ethnic areas like Brixton where heavy-handed policing led to riots.
  • improved welfare - government intervention to create jobs with fair wages, regenerate inner city areas, improve housing and schools.
  • victims - victim support groups should report to police to address problems. Victim compensation schemes expanded.
  • reintegration of offenders -  community service favoured over prison. compensate community and be less marginalised. Victim-offender mediation increases offenders' empathy, reducing likelihood for recidivism(reoffending)


 reasonable, providing gov has financial resources and manpower to expand community policing

ignore corporate crime - criticised by marx., but the research was based on 'Law and Order'

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oofficial crime stats depend on victims reporting crimes and the police recording them. To uncover the dark figure of unreported crime, the first BCS took place 1982. The data collected have developed into the study of positivist victimology.

Some people have greater chance of being victims of crime:

  • those living in poorest areas
  • young people - violence from parents/carers/bullying/theft
  • elderly - abuse in care homes and from families
  • ehtnic minorities - racial violence/harrasment
  • males - victims of assault in workplace/violent attack in public place, esp 16-24 age
  • females - domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking & honour killings

BCS uncovers crime not reported to the police:

  • marital ****, fraud, state crime, environmental crime, shop lifting, fare dodging, tax evasion, offenses against young people.
  • BCS is based on a smaple which national trends are drawn. Local surveys from inner-city areas reveal high crime rates
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Attitudes to victims

  • conservative attitude - distinguish between blameless victims and those who bought it upon themselves.
  • Christie(1986) - the 'ideal victim' in a coruts eyes is a person innocently going about business and then being victimised by a stronger, unknown offender.
  • Mendelsohn(1956) - observed extent which some victims were culpable by allowing situations to escalate into criminal incidents.
  • liberal victimologist view focuses on all victims, regardless of social characteristics. 
  • negative attitudes faced by someone after suffering primary victimisation is called secondary victimisation. 
  • Waves of harm - crimes affect the victim and family and friends.
  • interested in making the victim feel better through restitution, victim-offender mediation and reconcilliation(Braithwaite, 2002), whereas Cons. favour retributive justice.
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