The rise in crime and the increase in the number of offenders had a profound effect on the working principles occurring in the criminal justice system and the academic theory occurring within criminology. The widespread nature of crime, its very normality, makes the search for causes less attractive. The new administrative criminology openly criticises ‘dispositional’ theories, rather it explains crime by the notion of a universal human imperfection when presented with the opportunity (Young, 2001, p. 31).
The task is to create barriers to restrict such opportunities and to be able to construct a crime prevention policy which minimises risks and limits the damage. An actuarial approach occurs which is concerned with the calculation of risk rather than either individual guilt or motivation (Van Swaaningen & Young, 1997, p. 32). Both the modernist discourse of neo-classicism and positivism is discarded. We are interested neither in liability nor pathology, in deterrence nor in rehabilitation. The focus is on prevention rather than imprisonment or cure.
It is not an inclusionist philosophy which embraces all into society until they are found guilty of an offence and thence attempts to reintegrate them. Rather it is an exclusionist discourse which seeks to anticipate trouble whether in the shopping centre or in the prison and to exclude and isolate the deviant. It is not interested in crime per se, it is interested in the possibility of crime, in anti-social behaviour in general, whether criminal or not, in likely mental illness or known recalcitrance: in anything that will disrupt the smooth running of the system.
Such an administrative criminology is concerned with managing rather than reforming, its ‘realism’ is that it does not pretend to eliminate crime but to minimise risk. (Back, 2006, p. 62) It has given up the ghost on the modernist aims at change through social engineering and judicial intervention, it seeks to separate out the criminal from the decent citizen, the troublemaker from the peaceful shopper and to minimise the harm that the addict or alcoholic can do to themselves rather than offer any ‘cure’ or transformation.
The rise in the number of crimes results in an increase in arrests which represents a dramatic rise of potential input for the criminal justice system. The reaction to this, like any other bureaucracy, is to attempt to take short cuts and to decrease the possible number of clients. To take short cuts first, an institution like the police force faces a growing number of cases per police officer. (Back, 2006, p. 62) For example, in England and Wales, despite large increases in personnel, the number of crimes reported by the public per police officer rose from ten in 1960 to forty in 1990.
The temptation here, particularly given government pressure to maintain an economic and efficient service, is legitimately to engage in plea-bargaining, illegitimately to engage in corruption. For example by manipulating clear-up figures through ‘tic’, by fitting up suspects, by ignoring the gap between ‘theoretical’ and ’empirical’ guilt (Kinsey, Lea & Young, 1986, p. 12). It is perhaps the increased selectivity with regards to prospective clients which is perhaps of the greatest interest. At the level of suspicion the police shift from suspecting individuals to suspecting social categories.
For example, in terms of ‘stop and search’ it is more effective to suspect those categories deemed likely to commit offences; ethnic minorities and young males, rather than to suspect individuals. You trawl in waters with the likeliest, richest harvest rather than take the rather ‘pea in a pod’ chance of making an arrest by proceeding on an individual by individual basis. (Young, 2001, p 32) the old invocation ’round up the usual suspects’ becomes transformed into ’round up the usual categories’, individual suspicion becomes categorical suspicion.
The criminal justice system itself, from police through to judiciary, when faced by too many offenders and too few places to put them, has to engage in a process of selectivity to distinguish the dangerous, the hardened, and the recidivist from the less unruly offender. The proportion of people sent to prison declines and the process of selectivity based on risk management increases. (Beck, 2002, p. 26) Thus, although the overall numbers of prisoners increases, the chance of an offender going to prison decreases.
There is little surprise in this, it is a process of expediency rather than leniency. The impact on the offender of this process of corruption, plea-bargaining and selectivity is to problematise justice. The justice one receives becomes a result not of individual guilt and proportional punishment but is more a negotiated process, the result of political or bureaucratic pressure rather than absolute standards. (Campbell, 2006, p. 46) The chaos of reward encountered in the field of distributive justice becomes echoed in the chaos of punishment occurring within the criminal justice system.
The rise in crime which occurred in the latter part of the twentieth century in most industrial nations and its impact both on the public and on criminological theory itself. The major motor in the transformation of public behaviour and attitudes, in the development of the crime control apparatus and in criminology, (Campbell, 2006, p. 46) is the rapid rise in the crime rate. This has had profound affects from the perspective of exclusion. Rising crime rates fuel public fear of crime and generate elaborate patterns of avoidance behaviour, particularly for urban women.
The isolated problem area of modernity becomes an intricate map of no-go areas, of pathways and parks to be avoided. For many women the possibilities of the day become a curfew at night. (Painter, 1989, p. 20) This is not the place to enter into the ‘reality’ of such fears, let alone to explore what ‘realistic’ risk calculations might look like, suffice it to the point to the exclusion which crime generates and that its impact varies greatly by age, class, gender and ethnicity. The rise in crime results shows in an increase in those incarcerated.
Of course there is no linear relationship, but the absence of such does not prevent the fact that in the long run prison populations have in most countries risen in response, perhaps mistakenly, to the need for crime control. The frequent mistake here is, of course, to simply look at rates per population, thus James Lynch, (1998, p. 196) found that, when levels of crime and seriousness were controlled for, “the extreme differences in incarceration between the United States and several other Western democracies are lessoned considerably and in some cases disappear. To a large extent differences in incarceration rates cross-nationally are due to differences in the types and levels of crime across countries. ” In England and Wales those in prison constitute a significant excluded population in their own right, approaching 81,458 (HM Prison Service, n. d. ). The rise in crime generates a whole series of barriers to prevent or manage crime. Thus we have a privatisation of public space in terms of shopping centres, parks and leisure facilities, together with the increasing numbers of gated private residential property.
These now commonplace precautions are backed by stronger outside fortification, security patrols and surveillance cameras. (Chambers, 2002, p. 54) The security industry, whose very job is exclusion, becomes one of the major growth occupations. The city, then, becomes one of the barriers, excluding and filtering, although it must be stressed that such barriers are not merely an imposition of the powerful, systems of exclusion, visible and invisible are created both by the wealthy and the dispossessed. Some of the latter can be as discriminatory as that of the powerful (Ruggiero and South, 1997) but much can be seen as defensive exclusion.
Crime in Britain has steadily increased, with the exception of small decreases in the mid 50’s and 90’s, each year since records began in the mid 19th century. Over half of all these offences are for petty offences such as theft and handling stolen goods. In fact the majority of all offences are made up of crimes against property. The majority of the prison population of England consists of young males, ethnic minorities and those from unskilled occupations. In fact criminals are predominately male, as they make up 83% of known offenders.
The most frequently used and accepted measures into the extent of crime are statistical data recorded by police and the courts. This data is collected annually and investigates the number of crimes committed within certain categories, which is recorded by the police. There are many problems with relying on official statistics to measure crime levels. Firstly, according to Maguire, (2002) these figures do not include offences recorded by forces outside Home Office responsibility, for example, the transport police. Secondly, these figures can often give an inaccurate picture of the amount of crimes committed.
Many offences such as tax evasion, as recorded by the Inland Revenue, only appear in official records if the matter is then brought to court. Therefore records of such incidents are particularly invisible due to the low prosecution rate. Statistics are purely based on crimes reported and recorded by police, but due to police numbers, over 80% of all crimes are reported by the general public (Maguire, 2002). A deficiency of the criminal justice system is that a proportion of all incidents are never actually reported in the first place. This is known as the dark figure of crime and can be down to many reasons.
Often, such offences as tax evasion and computer fraud are not made aware to the police because of public ignorance. People are simply not conscious of these crimes taking place. In many cases, individuals know of the crime being committed but still do not report the matter. This can happen when there is no apparent victim, for example prostitution and certain drug offences. Frequently, however, the victim is powerless, (child abuse sufferers) and are either too afraid or are unable to testify against their abuser. Some offences are seen as too trivial to report, for example, shoplifting, small acts of vandalism and minor fights.
With certain incidents there is a social stigma attached and the victim would be unwilling to press charges from the fear of being ridiculed, for example cases of male rape. Other reasons for not reporting a crime include when the victim does not believe that they will not be taken seriously or a lack of faith in the police, believing that they will be unable to help. This occurs especially in racial discrimination and harassment cases. According to the British crime Statistics (BCS), the main reason for not reporting are fear of not being taken seriously and the police being unable to help.
Modern crime statistics are often compared with those from many years previously. The past is often portrayed as a golden era and a much safer place to live. However, these historical comparisons are not as relevant due to better policing methods. Crimes, which would have before gone unnoticed are now being brought to court and the offenders prosecuted. Changes in the law, what is constituted as criminal, can also explain the increase in crime over the years. The introduction of formal cautions in the twentieth century added greatly to the volume of crime.
The upsurge in formal cautions given out to boys aged 14 years and under could account for the whole of the increase in recorded crime for that age group (Pearson, 1983). Control theories in criminology are all about social control. Only those called containment or low self control theories have to do with individual psychology. Control theory has pretty much dominated the criminological landscape since 1969. It focuses upon a person’s relationships to their agents of socialisation, (Cooper, 2005, p. 65) such as parents, teachers, sports coaches, or police officers.
It studies how effective bonding with such authoritive figures translates into bonding with society, hence keeping people out of trouble with the law. Labeling theory was a child of the 1960’s and 1970’s which saw criminals as underdogs who initially did something out of the ordinary, and then got swept up in a huge, government sponsored labeling or shunning reaction. It argues that anyone facing such an overwhelming, negative labeling social reaction will eventually become more like the label because that is the only way out for their identify formation.
It points out that sometimes its best to do nothing (for minor offending), and that there are few reintegrative rituals designed to help people fit back into their communities (Chapman, 2004, p. 32). A new thinking in criminology emerged in the 1980’s as a response both to the punitive and exclusionary policies of conservatism and to the utopianism of New Left radical criminologies (Young, 2005, p. 163). Left realists emphasise the role played by the powerful in society, also the crimes they have committed. In much of left influenced theory the criminal is presented as the victim of society rather than as the positive and cognitive offender.
Left realism aims to look at the micro and macro levels. It considers crime as it would be perceived by many, either through their own experiences or through those of family and friends, and through media images. It then tests these feelings about criminality and tries to include them in its explanations. Left realism also widens the plane of the debate to the plight and situation of victims and to the informal, community systems of social control. Radical criminologies provide a possible explanation of why positivist criminologies miss hidden crime.
They accept the definitions of crime at face value rather than looking at who does the labeling and why certain behaviours are labelled as criminal. It is the act of getting caught which results in the attachment of criminal labels (Muncie & McLaughlin 2004, p. 64). In order to get caught the crime has to be observed or reported, the crimes which are reported are various forms of street crime and robbery. Radicals suggest that those with power are the ones who choose whose label is highlighted, it is more often than not street crime, with other forms of criminals e. g. hite collar simply remain unmentioned. It is those who get caught and are labelled who appear in the analysis of positivist theories. Crime statistics are only a small part of the true amount of crime in this country; unfortunately there is no way of recording the amount of unrecorded crime. Victim surveys and self-report studies aim to go somewhere towards redressing the balance, but are flawed due to a low rate of response and therefore they do not account for all violations of the law. In order to get a bigger picture into the state of crime other avenues must be investigated.