Criminal Psychology Revision/Study notes (Created from the UK Edexcel A Level syllabus requirements)

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Consensus View

- Crime is a violation of the law.

- The law reflects the general consensus of what is right.

- Therefore anyone who breaks the law is committing a criminal act.

Conflict View

- The law reflects the interests of certain groups, not the whole of society.

- Dissatisfaction between groups of differing power and economic status lead to conflict.

- Therefore if a crime is victimless, should it be viewed as 'criminal'?

Interactionist View

- The reason behind criminal behaviour determines whether or not it constitutes a 'crime'.

- An act is not criminal; it is the reason behind the act that may be criminal.

- If the meaning behind an act is criminal, it is criminal, but if the act is done in self-defence it may not be a crime, even if it is breaking the law.


Incidence of crime = crime rate of population

Prevalence of crime = rate of individuals who experience crime

Police Records - official statistics:

- Hood and Sparks (1970) - only about two thirds of serious crimes reported are officially recorded.

- Many crimes go unreported e.g. rape, or unrecorded e.g. domestic violence.

- Crime rates may appear to change if the method used to measure crime is altered.

Offender Surveys

- Belson (1975) interviewed 1445 boys aged 13-16. 70% had been involved in theft from a shop.

- Such studies suggest official figures underestimate the level of crime.

- Although sampling procedures may be biased and participants may exaggerate or deny their involvement in criminal acts.

Victim Surveys

- British Crime Survey - household survey to discover unreported crimes.

- Show violent crimes are not common.

- Hough and Matthew estimated adults should expect to be burgled once every 40 years and robbed/assaulted...