Ethnicity and Crime


  • Created by: Sarah
  • Created on: 03-06-11 10:22

Statistics of Ethnic Differences

Official Statistics 

  • Black people make up just 2.8% of the population but 11% of the prison population and Asians make up 4.7% of the population but 6% of the prison population.
  • Ministry of Justice notes that black people are 7 times more likely to be stopped and searched.
  • They do not tell us which ethnic group is most likely to commit an offence, they simply tell us about involvement with the criminal justice system.

Victims Surveys

  • Black people are over-represented in mugging when victims identify the ethnicity.
  • Victim surveys show that a great deal of crime is intra-ethnic. For example according to the British Crime Survey, 90% of crimes where the victim was white, at least one of the offenders was also white.
  • However, victim surveys rely on victims memory of events. White victims usually over-identify blacks-saying that the offender was black even when their not sure.
  • Only cover personal crimes, which make up only 1/5 of all crimes.
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Ethnicity, racism and the Criminal Justice System.

  • Policing: Philips and Bowling note there has been racism in the police force.
  • Stop and Search: Members of minority ethnic groups are more likely to be stopped and searched by police. 7 times more likely. Police can stop and search a persons vehicle whether or not they have reasonable suspicion. Statistics show that Asians were ovre 3 times more likely to be stopped.
  • Explaining Stop and Search Patterns:- Police Racism: The MACPHERSON REPORT on the police investigation of the racist murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence concluded that there was institutional racisim within the Metropolitan Police. Ethnic Differences in Offending:  An alternative explanation is that disproportionality in stop and searches simply reflects ethnic differences in levels of offending. In low descretion stops, police act on relevant information about a specific offence, for example a victim's description of the offender. In high descretion stops, police act without specific intelligence. It is in these stops where officers can use their stereotypes. Demographic Factors: Ethnic minorities are over-represented in the population groups who are most likely to be stopped such as the young, the unemployed, manyal workers and urban dwellers. These are more likely to be stopped, not because of their ethnicity but because high proportion of ethnic minorities in these groups.
  • Arrests and Cautions: The arrests for blacks were 3.6times the rates for whites. Blacks and Asians were less likely than whites to recieve a caution.
  • Prison: Blacks were 5 times more likely to be in prison than whites and more likely to have a longer sentence.
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Explaining the differences in Offending

Migration and Crime

In the 1950’s, large scale migration from the Caribbean began and resulted in increased conflict between black community and the police. 1990’s: Asian ‘gangs were viewed as a problem, resulting in large scale ‘clashes’ between police and Asian youths in 2001. Sept 11th led to Muslims being seen as the ‘enemy within’. Ethnic Differnces in Stats Lef Realism: Stats show real differences in offending Neo-Marxists: Stats are a social construct, resulting from racist labelling from the CJS. Left Realism
Crime stats are real but a product of relative deprivation, subculture and marginalisation. Racism and the factors above have meant that EM’s are more likely to face high unemployment, poverty & poor housing.  Delinquent subcultures are likely to be formed due to relative deprivation, promoting utilitarian crime like robbery. Frustration may also result in non-utilitarian crime such as violence and rioting.

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Explaining the differnces in offending (carried on

Lea and Young: •Acknowledge that the police can be racist , but 90% of crime is reported by the public, so this cannot fully account for crime stats.

Black people have a far higher rate of crime than Asians, meaning that police would need to be selective in their racism if this were the reason for higher crimes stats of blacks. Therefore stats represent REAL differences in offending between ethnic groups, caused by deprivation etc. Criticisms of Lea and Young
Arrest rates have been lower for blacks than Asians as Asians seen as passive and blacks seen as ‘dangerous’. Since Sept 11th, Asians now seen as ‘dangerous’ too, explaining crime stats for this group. Gilroy: Myth of Black Criminality  Blacks and Asians are no more criminal than others, they are just stereotyped by CJS. Ethnic minority crime can be a result of a racist society, which has it’s roots in British imperialism. Previous struggles have caused riots and demonstrations. CRITICISMS BY LEA & YOUNG: 1st generation immigrants were law abiding and would not have passed this struggle on. Most crime is INTER ETHNIC

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Hall et al: Policing the Crisis.

Neo Marxist Hall: 70’s saw moral panic over black muggers 1970’s British capitalism faced a crisis and opposition to the government was growing. Force was needed to maintain control. However, more force needed to seem legitimate or it would cause more resistance. ••At the same time, mugging was ‘growing’ according to the media (mugging was a new phenomena, previously called street crime). Hall suggest that there was no actual evidence of this increase. Mugging soon became associated with black youths due to the media.

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really good!



Thank you so much!!! **



This is so good! :)



A great set of cards which summarises the key issues surrounding ethnicity and crime, identifying the key statistics, theorists and an evaluation of each aspects. Good resource.

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