Flashcards in Problems in defining crime Deck (19)
An act that violates the law. you will get punished by the state.
Crime as a social construction
A reflection of the attitudes and beliefs of society.
Crimes vary across cultures
i.e. Canada has different substance laws compared to the UK, meaning what is legal and right in Canada is different and illegal in the UK
Context of laws
Over time laws have changed due to culture, location, history etc. They vary within each culture (e.g. same sex relationships are legal in some countries but not in others)
e.g. Adultery is grounds for divorce in the UK but it is not a crime. Adultery is a felony in 5 states in the USA and could lead to death.
e.g. Driving over the speed limit in the UK can lead to a fine, points on your licence or a driving course. In other countries is it can lead to imprisonment.
The age for imprisonment varies across cultures. In the UK it stands at 10 years old (was 8 in 1963). you can be tried in the criminal court as you are deemed to know right from wrong. in other countries this may be lower or higher.
Historical - something once deemed illegal may no longer be so i.e. homosexuality - up until 1967 any homosexual acts were criminal and the individuals would be prosecuted
something not identified as illegal may become so i.e. developments in technology - downloading (watching films on the internet) and 'revenge porn' (breaking privacy without consent).
Mens rea = intention to do the crime. Psychological/guilty mind . No plan behind it/accidental i.e. manslaughter.
Actus rea = the crime is voluntary. The individual is in control of it. Behavioural and is deliberate.
Ways of measuring crime
Official stats - National stats monitors crime in England and Wales. It is based on crime reports. Categories include criminal damage, drug crime, violent and sexual crime.
USA - FBI produce the annual Uniform Crime Reports (local and state reinforcement agencies)
Measuring crime (weakness)
Difficult to find a trend because the government can change what goes into which category, and not every crime is reported (i.e. damage to a car = small so wouldn't be reported/looked up or followed up - insignificant.
Types of crime can be difficult to measure i.e. Domestic violence wasn't know to the public in recent years. Police would take it off your hands, they have the power to stop it.
i.e. petty theft - isn't reported anymore; it is insignificant.
Multiple offenders can be narrowed down to one person for one crime instead of the same crime reoccurring.
Police recording the crime
--It doesn't mean crime resulting in convictions.
--Minor crimes might make the figure higher.
--Crimes might go unreported due to a lack of support in the system or the fear of involvement.
--Policy/public focus - if society feels fear it can generate public policy.
--Reporting every incident can cause people to feel attacked - surrounded by deviant people.
--Without evidence the police can't keep the case open therefore they close it = unanswered crimes.
--In the US abusing animals is a criminal act and it can be a red flag for later harming people.
-The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) finds/shows trends occurring in the general population.
- A face-to-face survey asking people to identify crimes that have committed -- 50,000 households were selected randomly (in 2009 added 3,000 10-15 years-olds) = good response rate of 75%
- People within the public sector were exempted
-Survey varies year-to-year in an attempt to keep current and relevant, abreast of crime trends e.g. online fraud.
-sample is asked whether they have been victims to any crimes (robbery, theft and criminal damage). includes motoring offences or possession of drugs - sometimes excluded.
Evaluation of victim surveys
-Self-report surveys are poor in reliability. People are reluctant to report that they're victims or forget they've been victim to a crime.
-Unreported crime is known as the 'dark side' of crime e.g. speeding.
Doesn't include corporate crime - 'crime in the streets v. crime in the suites' (white collar = middle class/corporate. Blue collar = working class)
-Ver few people can cause lots of crime i.e. men committing fraud against people getting lots of money.
-Offending Crime and Justice Survey (2003-2006) - covered self-reported offending, role of co-offending, relationships between perpetrator and victims, and drugs and alcohol use.
-It is a longitudinal survey used to try and pick up on crime trends of offending behaviour.
Offender Surveys - 14th Prisoner Survey
--decrease of 20% in self reported drug use from 2001-2013
--45% stated that they were drunk at the time of the crime committed. 68% for younger offenders.
--44% witnessed violence in the home
--50% reported being drunk when committing their offences
--28% reported alcohol affected their employment and worried it would be a problem when released.