Ethinicity and Crime

  • Created by: Lilly
  • Created on: 20-05-14 18:23

Ethnicity and crime statistics

36% of 15-18 year old males in young custody in England and Wales are form black or other ethnic minoirty groups.

2009- 19% of female prison population were made up of ethnic minoirt women.

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Explanations for ethnic crime rate:

Hall- policing the crisis and crisis of capitalism

  • Neo marxist perspective
  • Criminalisation of blacks 1970s, police released statistics suggesting young blacks more likely to commit street crime/ robbery, whites most likely to be victim.
  • MORAL PANIC- AC population labelled as 'folk devil' / criminal threat
  • However, alongside this there was a crisis of capitalsim - high unemployment, industrial disputes, street protests/ violent demonstratios- threatening cultural hegemony of RC
  • Moral panic had 2 main effects:

1- divide WC, encouraged racist attitudes. White encouraged to view blacks as problem by media- distracting WC from real cause of problems, mismanagement of capitalism by RC

2- justified aggressive policint (S&S, riot squads)

  • OCS that shows high levels of black criminality socially manufactured by repressive racist state for ideological reaons
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expanations cont.


  • Black street crime politically motivated by interpretation of their position in UK
  • Street crime deliberate and conscious reaction and resistance to anger of young blacks at how they were treated- slavery and colonialsim- anti-colonialism is passed down to next generation
  • Institutional racism represented by police harrassment and employer discrimination

Philip and Bowling

  • Previous negative treatment= large number of blacks to feel hostile towards police. Blacks commit more street robbery= suggests it is a reaction to negative label from constantly being stopped and searched.
  • Crime expression of hostility towards police
  • Police label produces a self-fulfilling prophecy
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explanations cont.

Cashmere- Functionalist perspective, develop's Merton's STRAIN theory

  • Young AC- encouraged to pursue material success- structural opportunities blocked by racism, failing inner city schools and unemployment = anomie. Turn to street crime (Merton's innovation response) and justify their actions on grounds that they are rejected by white society- failed to offer them opportunities that whites take for granted.

Lea and Young - Left realist approach. Both blacks/ whites commit street crime because of: 1) relative deprevation- poor, lives underminded by social/ economic factors being out of their control,

2)marginalisation- ethics feel frustrated / hostile, little power to change their situation, feel not part of wider society.

3)Indvidualism- mass media and celeb culture encourages people to pursue self-interest

4) subculture- likely to commit crime when find like minded indviduals who aspire to material success or agree with their anger at society

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explanations cont.


  • Multi-dimensional approach to black street cimr
  • Identifies 3 risk factors that are responsible for high levels of crime among AC boys:
  • Influenced by media's emphasis on conspicuous consumption- idea that identty adn status dependent on material things
  • Feel they cannot relate to mainstream culture, police, teachers, employers all working against them
  • single parent families, absentee fathers- lack of positive male role model- anxiety for boys= resorted to constructing subculture, arenas where they can gain status and respect from peers by engaging in hyper-masculine activty and conspicuous consumption.
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Policing and racism

Landau and Nathan

  • Young AC prosecuted more, study of police decisions regarding juveniles in London, found when black youth arrested police more likely to prosecute them immediately than whites.

Phillips and Bowling

  • 1970s onwards, blacks subject to oppressive military style policing. Led to over policing of these communities, reflected in excessive stop and search studies- S&S statistics show that blacks are stopped 6x more than whites

MacPherson report- reported on death of Stephen Lawrence, led to London Metropolitan police being found guilt of 'institutional racism'

Sharp and Budd

  • Young blacks lower offence levels than white, but more likely to be taken to court and convicted. Blacks/ Asians more likely to be charged rather than cautioned.
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Polciing and racism

Sharp and Budd is supported by Hood, studied criminal courts in West Midlands, found that young AC males more likely than whites to receive custodial sentences.

However, police not always racist institution


  • CCTV footage and interviewed oficers about S&S
  • Found that although disproportionate number of ethnic minoirt yotuh were stopped, was realistic reflection of those on streets at night.
  • Showed police were not racists, and that stop and searches were based on composition of local population
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