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How far does Becker's account (The Outsiders 1963) of the processes underlying the selective enforcement of criminal law help us to understand and explain the policing of domestic violence and white collar crime?

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Introduction

IMAGES OF CRIME Assessed Coursework Module Code: CL2351 Student Number: 010 383 313 Question: How far does Becker's account (The Outsiders 1963) of the processes underlying the selective enforcement of criminal law help us to understand and explain the policing of domestic violence and white collar crime? In order to answer this question it is important to look at certain aspects of the 'Images of Crime'. Crime is not always what it is portrayed to be, it is something that happens everyday and most people commit some sort of crime at some point in their existence. Crimes can vary from those such as murdering a person to speeding on the motorway. Criminal activity has not always been enforced in the same way, some crimes are more 'acceptable' and others are less 'acceptable'. The people who determine the level of acceptability are both societies in general and also the police as an enforcement unit. On the topics of domestic violence and white-collar crime, selective enforcement is seen on a greater scale. This essay will examine the reasons why these are viewed and reacted to in a different manner. In the book The Outsiders (1963) by Howard S. Becker, a famous criminologist, the author has a school of thought on deviance and society's reactions towards rule breaking. This was very useful when tackling the essay, because he gives a point of view in regards to selective enforcement and potential reasons for it. A Deviant It is important to establish exactly how one would define a deviant as being? According to the Collins English Dictionary, the definition is: "a person whose behaviour deviates from what is considered to be acceptable".1 The question that should be posed is: "What is considered to be acceptable behaviour?" We will understand that there are many levels of acceptance and some forms of deviance are more acceptable than others forms. The central fact about deviance is that it is created by society. ...read more.

Middle

There are reasons why the police do not respond to domestic violence calls, and do not necessarily prosecute. Sometimes the reason is deservedness; one never truly knows what a relationship is between a husband and wife. Another reason is simply the organisational logic of the police as an organisation. Battered women were not really that high a priority, until the late 1980s and 1990s. The Reform In recent years, there has been a noticed reform in police response to domestic violence cases. The Home Office circular 60/1990 makes certain recommendations concerning response. The forces should: (a) make clear policy statements about how domestic violence should be dealt with; (b) create special units when practicable; (c) only label it as "no-crime" if satisfied that the report was inaccurate or false; (d) arrest where appropriate as charge with other violent assault cases; (e) consider prosecution where a woman appeared unwilling to give evidence on the grounds that many women with appropriate support might change their mind.9 Selective Enforcement and White Collar Crime Limited Reporting White collar crime is also known as occupational crime and includes: (a) employee theft of money, goods or intangibles such as the use of telephones, computers and photocopiers for unauthorised private purposes; (b) employee fraud such as claiming expenses incurred for private purposes; and (c) tax and benefit fraud. Each of these aspects will be examined. In 1991 Crime Concern calculated internal losses at �500 per employee per year. City Investigations reported that over two-thirds of company frauds were committed by company employees, including managers, accounts officials, salesmen, shop-floor operatives, directors and partners, distributors and drivers. The reasons for the non-reporting of this white-collar, work crime include Becker's theory of negotiations over self-interest in whistle blowing. This means that often, nobody is personally affected, so the whistle is not blown. However, when someone is personally affected, like in Malinowski's example of the Trobriand Community, the reaction may be altogether different. ...read more.

Conclusion

How often are these rules enforced? Rule enforcement is very unpredictable. If no self-interest exists, then no whistle will be blown. It depends on the level of harm caused, who is affected and by how much to determine the rate of enforcement. There needs to be a degree of self-interest and initiative, one must be able to define oneself as a victim of a crime. In whistle blowing, one of the key things is the perception of 'real crime'.12 Often, domestic violence and white-collar crimes are not perceived as 'real' enough. This is when negotiations start. In negotiations, the police ask the victims if they want to press charges, we already covered that in cases of domestic violence and work crimes, they victim often doesn't want to. The police's perceptions also make a difference, what they think is the cause of the assault makes a difference to the manner in which they react. So why do the police negotiate? The police often focus on cases that are solvable and not on those that they do not wish to work on13. This bias results in further non-reporting and clarifies exactly what selective enforcement is. The police are powerful in this manner and can make it more or less difficult to complain. Social perceptions of the public towards certain groups can also bias the police. The "rubbish" class is labelled as incompetent, messy and wastes. The police are less likely to react to them, as they lead chaotic lives and are more likely to have bad things happen to them. The "middle" class is likely to receive more attention. In summary, Becker's theories can help us to understand the selective enforcement of white-collar crime and domestic violence, and to help us to ask the correct questions about committing crimes. More along the lines of society's reactions rather than reasons why they are committed by people. We can better understand the reactions of the enforcement agencies and reactions of the public in general. ...read more.

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