Statistics on ethnicity andcrime There are 3 ways of gathering statistics on ethnicity and crime –1. Official statistics2. Victimization Studies3. Self-Report Studies
Official statistics About 91 % of people in the UK are white, and 9% are non-white (5% Asian, 2% Afro Caribbean, 2% mixed/other) These statistics are important in showing how some groups are over represented among prison population. Of approx 80,000 men in prison 74% are white, 15% Afro Caribbean, 7% Asian, 4% mixed/other
Official statistics Officialstatistics tell us the numbers of people arrested by the police. However they are not necessarily a reflection of offending rates but the actions of the police officers. If,as some sociologists suggest, many police officers are motivated by racism, then the arrest rates reflects this.
Victimisation studies Victim- based studies (such as the British Crime survey) are gathered by asking victims of crimes for their recollections of the ethnic identity of the offender. Like official statistics, asking victims for a description of who committed the crime against tem is problematic. For a start, only about 20% of survey recorded crimes are personal crimes (such as theft from the person), where the victims might see the offender. Bowling and Phillips claim that victims are influenced by racial stereotypes. They argue that where the offender is not known, white people are more likely to describe someone of an African- Caribbean origin
Self-report studies This is the use of an anonymous questionnaire to ask people what offences they have committed. Graham and Bowling’s study (1995) of 14-25 year olds found that the self-reported offending rates were more or less the same for the white, black and Asian respondents. It so challenges the view that the rate of offending of Black ethnic groups is higher than white ethnic groups.
Racial discrimination in thecriminal justice system Some researchers argue that the greater likelihood for ethnic minority groups, particularly Black ethnic groups to be criminalised reflects their greater involvement in crime. However, others argue that ethnic differences in criminalisation stem from institutional racism within the CJS.
Evidence of racial discriminationin the criminal justice system In 1983 the PSI published a report entitled Police and People in London. Researchers used a range of qualitative methods, including non-participant observation (shadowing police officers), and interviews to investigate the attitudes of Metropolitan police officers. The researchers found that the use of racist language and jokes were common and had become part of the institutional culture.
Evidence of racial discriminationin the criminal justice system A large multi-method research project carried out in 2001 by Marion Fitzgerald and Michael Hough, The Policing for London Survey, found that although many people stopped by the police were satisfied with their treatment, there had been a decline in confidence in police effectiveness. The study found that the best predictors for being stopped by the police were ‘being young,being male, being black, being workingclass and being single.’(2002)
Evidence of racial discriminationin the criminal justice system Philips and Bowling 2002 argue that the UK criminal justice system is racist. They point to –a.) the higher number of stop and searches of black men (5-8 times higher than for whites)b.) the higher number of arrestsc.) the over-policing in inner city areasd.) the use of racially abusive languagee.) the higher imprisonment rate for black men compared to whites.
Institutional RacismA concern over the issues of policing,crime and race relations has been a longrunning theme in British society. This concernwas heightened following the racist murderof Stephen Lawrence in 1993 while he was waiting at a London bus stop.The Macpherson Enquiry in 1999 argued that the MetropolitanPolice was institutionally racist in its actions concerning theinvestigation into his murder. As a result his killers have not beenheld accountable.
Institutional Racism The murder of 10 year old Damiola Taylor in 2001 wasseen as the Metropolitan Police’sfirst big test on the murder of ablack youth since the StephenLawrence case. However the casecollapsed in 2002 due to police and Crown Prosecution failings, according to officialinvestigations.
What is ‘institutional racism’? “The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes, and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping.”MacPherson 1999
Evaluation The evidence clearly points to racial discrimination in the CJS – however does discrimination wholly account for the greater criminalisation of ethnic minority groups?1. Evidence of Bias: If the CJs was institutionally racist it is hard to understand why black people are more likely to be criminalised than Asians.
Evaluation 2. Discrimination: The CJS can still be racist even though black people are treated more harshly than Asians. It may reflect the fact that Black people are viewed more suspiciously and seen as more violent and dangerous. 3. Discrimination and Criminalisation- it is a combination of both discrimination in the CJS and greater involvement of young black men in street crime. Lea and Young point out how a vicious circle develops.
Reasons for high criminality ofAfro-Caribbeans Lea and Young as New Left Realists were among the first to claim, controversially that young black men were not simply the victims of police racism, but that for street crimes they were more criminal than whites or other ethnic groups. They attribute this to –1. Relative Deprivation2. Subcultures3. Marginalisation
Reasons for high criminality ofAfro-Caribbeans Lack of educational successAfro-Caribbean boys leave school with the lowest qualifications of any ethnic group.In 2006 only 23% of black boys gained 5 or more good GCSEs, compared tonational average of 44%.With some avenues to success blocked, street crime is a possible route to financial gain and status.
Reasons for high criminality ofAfro-Caribbeans Family Structure60% of young black children live with just one parent, normally their mother, compared to 20% of white children.Lack of positive male role model may be a factor in the high level of black street crime.Lack of money coming from a lone parent family may be another cause.
Reasons for high criminality ofAfro-Caribbeans Influence of the mass mediaA controversial argument is the influence of the mass media, especially black rap artists.According to some politicians and New Right sociologists, rap music’s emphasis on ‘bling’ ‘violence’, ‘guns’, ‘sex’ and ‘drugs’, and its sexist attitude to women may not provide positive role models for young black men.
Crime among other ethnicminorities Recorded crime rate for Asian people is broadly in proportion to numbers in population, but has risen over the past 10 years. Early studies focus on the influence of religion to explain the low crime rate. Recent studies point to decline in religion as explanation for rise in crime rate. Increasing integration among some Asian boys into British culture may have weakened controls that were provided by tight knit family structure.