Crime and Deviance - Assess the view that ethnic differences in crime rates can best be explained by racism in the criminal justice system. (21 marks)

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Gareth Collins

Crime and Deviance; Topical questions.

Read item A and the question that follows

Item A According to official statistics, there are striking differences in the experiences of different ethnic groups in the criminal justice system. For example although black people make up less than three percent of the total population of England and Wales, they account for nearly 16 percent of all stops and searches and 11 percent of the prison population. By contrast, white people are under-represented at these later stages of the criminal justice process. 

Question Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess the view that ethnic differences in crime rates can best be explained by racism in the criminal justice system. 

Ethnic differences in crime rates are taken from statistics which revolve around the interaction between a deviant and Criminal Justice System (CJS) - these interactions consist of stop and searches, warnings and cautions, arrests, trial and prosecution and finally sentencing and prison. 

In each of these interactions we can isolate whether or not the CJS itself is as defined in the MacPherson report; Institutionally racist, as a result of the investigation into the Metropolitan Police service. 

In the official statistics, black people are 7 times more likely to be stopped and searched than a white person, and asian people three times more likely since the Terrorism Act 2000 received Royal Assent. 

Of these stops and searches, only a small minority of cases lead to a caution or arrest, but in cases of arrest, black people are three times more likely than white people to be arrested and white people are more likely to receive a caution than be arrested. 

With regards to prosecution and trial, the CPS has been found to drop more cases against minorities than against white people, which is assumed by some that due to high-discretion, racist policing, the evidence for prosecution often doesn’t exist or is unacceptable by the CPS. But for cases that are upheld, black and asian defendants are less likely to be found guilty than white defendants. 

When sentencing and imprisonment are concerned, Hood found black people 5% more likely to be jailed than white people. In fact black people…


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