Sociological explanations for patterns in ethnicity and crime
In this essay, I am going to outline and address the sociological explanations for patterns in ethnicity and crime. Crime has a negative impact in society. It refers to those activities that break the law of the land and are subject to official punishment. This essay will state why ethnic minority groups commit crime and why it is dramatically increasing throughout society. I will give detailed statistics and show why and how ethnic minorities commit crime in society.
According to home office statistics, about 9 percent of people arrested were recorded as black and 5 per cent as Asian. This means that relative to the arrest rates of the population as a whole, black people were over three times more likely to be arrested than white people where. Asian peoples rates were similar to those for white people. Official statistics tell us the numbers of arrests made by the police. However, they are not necessarily a reflection of offending rates, but can be seen just as much as comment on the actions of the police. However, Victim studies are gathered by asking victims of crime for their recollection of the ethnic identity of the offender. According to the British crime survey, the majority of crime is interracial, with 88 per cent of white victims stating that white offenders were involved, 3 per cent claiming the offenders were black, 1 per cent Asian and 5 percent mixed. Like official statistics, asking victims for a description of who committed the crimes is shot through with problems. For a start, only about 20 per cent of survey recorded crimes are personal crimes (such as theft from the person), where the victims might actually see the offender. Bowling and Philips argue that victims are influenced by (racial) stereotypes are culturally determined expectations as to who commits crime. Certainly, research by Bowling’s (1999) indicates that where offenders is not known, white people are more likely to ascribe the crime to those of African Caribbean origin study. Unquestionably, this will give unreliable statistical data and the victim surveys would not be straightforward. Additionally, Self report studies uses anonymous questionnaires to ask people what offences they have committed. Graham and Blowing study (1995) of 14-25 year olds for the home office that the self reported offending rates where more or less the same for the white, black and Asian respondents.
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Some have argued that police racism results in higher education suspicion against black people in general. The McPherson report (1999) concluded that the police were institutionally racists. The court system has been accused of automatically favouring white middle class defendants. There are few black people in either the police force or the legal system. Additionally, Young black Caribbean’s have higher levels of unemployment than whites, which may produce greater temptation for crime. The location of where people live can have an effect in what type of crime has been committed. Sociologists argue most crimes takes place in cities because there are more opportunities to be involved in crime in cities. Higher density populations mean more chances for robbery and property crime. Most young people live in urban areas and they are most likely to commit crime. It’s hard for criminals to remain anonymous in close-knit rural communities. Many ethnic minorities live near inner city areas and may be drawn into culture of criminality.
If as some sociologists argue, the actions of some police officers are party motivated by racism, then the arrest rates reflect this, rather than offending rates by ethnic minority groups. Police may target ethnic minorities because of their relatively higher involvement in crime. Also, police believe young blacks more likely to be involved in crime may result in more targeting and more arrests of ethnic minorities. This can also lead to unreliable statistics because of a few police officers labelling or targeting certain ethnic groups for crime. It will lead to statistical data being unreliable for usage to sociologists or to the government because the victims have not actually committed a crime. If the police are looking for a crime they will find it. However, it doesn’t give them the right in labelling certain people to crime. For example, after the horrific attack on Sep 11th, and more significantly, the bombings in 2005 on the London underground, a new discourse was emerged and still emerges regarding Muslims youths. The newer image is of them as being potentially dangerous and a threat to British culture. The media have spilled propaganda and unbalanced news for years and this has led society in the wrong path. Politicians still try to put fear into people’s lives by playing the politics of fear and it has an effect on a few close-minded people. In the recent US presidential elections candidates like Rudy Giuliani based their whole campaign on fighting “Muslim terrorists”. This puts a negative image into society in many aspects. It has become common for any politician to stereotype a group of people and play the fear card.
To conclude, Ethnic minorities have the highest rate of crime in society even though the numbers of their population is low. However, labelling plays its part in the statistics. I believe labelling and stereotyping is involved in any culture and there is no way in getting rid of it. People need to change by thinking what they believe is right and not what politicians or the media think is right.