- 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.
- 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'?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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...