Victims, prevention and punishment


Facts about victims

  • Men are twice as likely to be victims of violence than women
  • More women are afraid of becoming victims of crime
  • Women are more likely to be victims of domestic violence
  • People from ethnic minority groups are twice as likely to be victims of robbery than whit people
  • Those from high income household are more likely to be victims of credit card fraud
  • People from lower income households are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse

Repeat victimisation is when individuals fall victim to the same type of crime more than once.

Only 14% of victims in 2012-13 of burgalry experienced this type of crime more than once in that year.

27% of victims of violent crime in 2013-14 were victimised more than once in that year.

13% of those were victimised 3 times or more in that year.

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Victimology theories

Christie - being a 'victim' is a social construct and society is more willign to certain people as victims.

Positivist victimology:

Miers - interested in how some people are more likely to become victims than others either because of their actions or their characteristics.

This approach is criticised for blaming the victim. They have also tended to focus on visible crimes i.e. not state crime etc.

Critical criminology:

Influenced by Marxism and Feminism it says that group who are more likely to be sopressed are also more likely to be victims of crime

Mawby and Walklate - describe this is 'structural powerlessness'

Tombs and Whyte - those in power can fail to label sufferes as victims 

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The Feminist approach

Domestic violence is as a result of an unequal power relation between men and women

The fear of crime is used to control women.

Stanko - women have to restrict their behaviour by taking care not to be too provocative

Many feminists belive that the law is biased against women.

Heidensohn - crimes by men against women often go unreported

Radical feminists - see domestic violence as a form of patriarchal power and control.

Marxist feminists - domestic violence can be explained by the lack of control that men experience in the capitalist workplace.

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Crime prevention

Right realists favour the situational approach. situational crime approach involves changing the physical environment of an area to make it harder for people to commit crimes. I.e. gated communities, increased surveilance.

The situational approach is based on rational choice theory - people ae less likely to commit a crime if its likely that they'll fail.

Chaiken et Al - situational approaches dont always reduce crime, they just move crime to less protected areas - crime displacement.

Doesnt deal with crimes committed by governments and white collar workers.

It only deals with the symptoms of criminality, no the factors that cause people to resort to crime.

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Environmental crime prevention

Tries to stop certain areas from becomin vulnerable.

Keeping areas clean and in good repair makes it obvious that people care about the area.

Wilson and Kelling - suggest zero tolerance policing where antisocial behaviour is tackled swiftly and strictly. Serious crime can be prevented by combining good policing and the maintenance of environments.

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Social and Community approaches

Social and community approaches try to remove the social conditions that might force people to revert to crime.

Structuralists - argue that crime is caused by innequalities in wealth and income, the only way to reduce drime is to adress social innequalities - Marxists, subculturalists and left realists

Individualist or interventionist - some groups of people are more likely to commit crimes than others. The best way to prevent crime is to change the behaviour of these criminal types

Social and community approaches require long term commitment as they try to adress criminality before it develops. situational approaches are reactive.

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Surveillance of crime

Physical surveillance methods are used to deter criminals as it increases their chance of being caught.

Surveillance also makes it harder for criminals to organise their activities online

Some argue that giving the government access to peoples personal details gives the too much power.

Surveillance is also used to deter bad behaviour in prisons - Panopticon (Foucalt)

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Formal and Informal agents of crime

The police are a formal agent responsible for enforcing the law.

The police should be impartial but...

  • The Macpherson Report said that the police were institutionally racist
  • Black men are more likely to be stopped and searched than white people
  • Graef - the police have a canteen culture - they adopt racist and sexist attitudes as a way of fitting in

Parliament is a formal agent as it passes laws to say what behaviour is criminal.

Other formal agents are, the CPS, courts and the Prison Service

The family, education system, religion and media are all informal agents of control. They help to reinforce a general sense of what behaviour is considered non deviant.

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Functionalists - punishment keeps society going. 

Durkheim - public punishment of crime is good for society as it helps create unity and consensus as people come together to condemn the criminal 

Marxists - punishment serves the needs of capitalism by keeping the workers under control.

Interventionists - see punishment as a detterent, the fact it exists should put people off

Some sociologists see punishment as a way of rehabiitation.

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The changing role of prisons

Garland - argued that zero tolerance policing has led to mass incarcereation.

Bodies that are associated with criminal justice and wellfare are increasingly working together

This can however lead to more transcarceration where vulnerable individuals are contantly moved between different kinds of institutions that control their lives. 

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