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The police have considerable choice about which crimes and criminals to prosecute. Examine the implication of this view for positivists sociological theory of crime.

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Introduction

The police have considerable choice about which crimes and criminals to prosecute. Examine the implication of this view for positivists sociological theory of crime The positivist's theory of crime is based around the thought that statistics are an accurate representation of crime. If this statement is true then what the positivists say is wrong. This to be considered in the question is whether the police really do pick whom they prosecute as well as the usefulness of statistics. The interectionist interpretation of crime is base don the idea that social groups create deviance by making the rules so they would agree with the above statement. Interactionist Becker 1973 says that deviance is created by public/social reaction and not the initial individual action, and that deviance is only deviance if publicly labelled as such through the process of interaction in which meaning is established. So they would disagree on the positivist's theory that statistics are an accurate representation of crime. ...read more.

Middle

A patrolling officer may ignore a large number of minor offences everyday (prostitutes soliciting, illegal parking etc) when action is taken it is time consuming, which inevitably means that nothing is done about other offences. But through acquiring the 'conventional wisdom' police officers can often recognise criminals and know where to locate them. As a consequence of this they tend to concentrate on street crime, such as robbery, burglary and assault. The individuals they target are liable to feel 'picked on' which leads to a sense of injustice that will affect police public relations. This all affects the official statistics as well which the positivists say are correct. But positivists don't take into account these factors as well as factors such as racism, sexism and other prejudices. When looking at whether the police do pick who they arrest there are two main positions that are then taken are either the consensual or conflict approach. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is assumed to be accurate but not all crimes will be reported to the police, and out of those that are not all are recorded. For crime to be reported, it first has to be detected. This is not always easy as some crimes don't even get detected such as fraud as it is hard to detect, they are also difficult to record. Victimisation studies have been carried out asking individuals if they have been victims of crime in the previous year, whether they reported the crime and if the police recorded them. These studies confirmed that crime statistics are unreliable. Not all crimes will be uncovered due to embarrassment or shame, for example crimes such as rape and domestic violence. But people may not report crime because they want to sort it out their selves or something. Official statistics are really not an accurate reflection of crime in society but are really a representation of police activity. This shows the positivist argument to be weak as they rely too much on criminal statistics and not much else. ...read more.

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