Ethnicity and Crime


Collecting Data on Ethnic Minorities

Official Statistics

  • black people are overrepresented in the justice system , white people are underrepresented

Victim Surverys

  • victim surverys ask what people have been victims of
  • black people are more at risk of being mugged
  • crime mostly occurs interrace
  • they rely on memory and so can over identify black cirminals
  • only covers personal crimes (only a fifth of all crime)
  • exlude under 16s
  • exclude corporate and white collar crime

Self report Studies

  • asks to disclose your own violent or criminal behaviour
  • Graham and Bowling - black and white people have similar levels of offending
  • this challenges existing stereotypes
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Stop and Search

  • minorites are more likely to be stopped ans searched  (black people 7x more likely)
  • only a small number lead to arrest
  • 'over policed and under protected'

Macpherson Report:

Dealt with police racism. Institutionally racist organisation, deeply ingrained within the society of the police.

Ethnic Differences in Offending:

low discretion stops involve police acting on relevant information about specific crimes, high discretion means that police stop without much intelligence causing distortion in stop and search pat


youth, unemployed, manual workers and urban dwellers are all more likely to be stopped and they are also more likely to be ethnic minorities

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Criminal Treatment

Arrests and cautions - in 2006/7 black arrest rate was 3.6 times higher than whites. Once arrested black and Asians were more likely to cautioned. Ethnic minorities are more likely to deny offences and excercise legal advice

Prosecution - crown prosecution service deaks with any case brought about by the police. They decide on the realistic prospect of conviction and whether it is of public interest, studies show that the CPS is more likely to drop cases against ethnic minorities

Trial - when cases go ahead, black and Asian defendents are less likely to be found guilty, this suggests police discrimination

Sentencing - in 2006/7 custodial sentences were given to 68% of black offenders and 55% white, may be due to differences in the seriousness of crimes or prior conviction. Hood - even when this is taken into account, black men were 5% more likely to recieve custodial sentences and on average sentences were 3 months longer

Pre-Sentence Reports -probation officers write tougher pre sentence reports for black offenders with underlying racism, biases used

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Prison and Ethnic Minorities

all minority groups have a higher proportion of prisoners on remand

a quiater of all male prison population is from minority ethnic groups

15% black, 7% Asian

7.4 per 1000 black people are in prison

only 1.7 Asians and 1.4 White

Similar patterns in other countries

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Lea and Young - Left Realism

differences in offending reflect real differences between different ethnic groups

crime is a product of relative deprivation, subcultures and marginalisation

this is due to racism

black people face higher levels of unemployment, poverty and poor housing

media then places emphasis on consumerism creating the relative deprivation

deliquent subcultures form in black males who feel no one represents their interest, focusing on utilitarian crime

racism in the police is a result of unjustified criminalisation of some minority groups

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Gilroy, The Myth of Black Criminality - Neo Marxis

racist sterotypes of African Carribeans and Asians

criminalised so appear in greater numbers

political resistance leads to crime

resisting oppression also leads to criminality

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Hall et al

new crime has evolved, mugging

moral panic caused although there was no evidence of a significant of increase in this particular crime

crime attributed to the black youth

the black youth therefore become the scapegoat

increased marginalisation due to unemployment

petty crimes as a means of survivial

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