Street crime is the term used to describe certain acts that break the criminal law. These acts include violent assault, robbery, vehicle theft or damage, shop theft, and criminal damage. Often, the fear of crime is more common than the actual crime itself, and poses a larger problem in society than what you may first think. This essay sets out to determine which of the three social factors is held most responsible for the great participation in the recorded rates of street crime. The media has the ability to influence and manipulate people’s opinions, and most often portrays the following image as Britain’s typical criminal.
This is inevitably important to discuss when trying to tackle an essay such as this, because it helps to identify any social stigmas that may be involved with certain groups, or types, of people. * White/West Indian (Dependent on location) * Male * Working class * Late teens – Mid Twenties It is important to recognize that this essay is based on recorded crime, which means that a crime has to be noticed, reported and then recorded by the police. There are two sets of statistics which record crimes, the OCS (Official Crime Statistics) and the BCS (British Crime Survey).
Although the OCS relies on information from the police and courts, the BCS is a survey that is based on monitoring victims of crime and covers approximately 16,000 households across Britain. Often, victims of petty crime or crimes that could be seen as embarrassing are left unreported to the police. The BCS is therefore a sociological survey, which helps to uncover the true extent of crime in society. The main question asked by sociologists of this field, is what possesses certain individuals to commit particular types of crime? The most common answer to this question is opportunity.
If one has the opportunity to commit crime, he/she often will. However, you cannot commit a crime if the correct objects and conditions are not there. (IE. You do not have the opportunity. ) The first social factor I will assess against crime is social class. All social classes commit crime. However, only one social class commits a high percentage of recorded crime. The type of crimes which are accessible to certain social classes vary due to the amount of opportunity they have. Therefore, the type of crime committed by social classes is usually intra-social group.
For example, the upper class is far more likely to pursue fraud and tax evasion, whereas the middle class tends to participate in white-collar crime. The working class is the class that is almost explicitly linked with street crime, which is what this essay surrounds. Street crime is far easier to tackle than the other types of crime, as is viewed as far more deviant within society. Fraud, tax evasion, and white-collar crime are, in fact, highly difficult to find a culprit for and legal battles are often long-winded, expensive, and extremely technical which a jury will often not understand, therefore, these cases never usually reach court.
This leaves the working class responsible for (on average) 85-90% of all recorded crime, as the street crime they commit is often the only type of crime worth being recorded and tried. Street crime is also frequently economically orientated which sometimes involves theft. Theft is a criminal offence that affects the individual. People are generally more aware of this type of crime as it affects them. For example, if a “typical criminal” robs an elderly woman for her handbag, it is seen as highly deviant compared with a highflying business avoiding tax payments, resulting in the rest of the country having to pay 2% more.
It is therefore extremely evident that social class has an enormous impact on recorded street crime. The antics and restrictions of the working class make an inevitable rise in crime and those members of the lower classes are almost being given a criminal life because of the due care and attention given to society by the police in relation to street crime in particular. The second social factor I will explore in relation to crime is gender. It is a well-known fact that males ten to commit more crime than females, but why is this?
Females are proven to commit more offences such as prostitution and shoplifting. This is because females have more opportunity to commit these types of crime. Although this is the case, females commit fewer vehicle related crimes because of their lack of opportunity. In general, women have less knowledge in this field, and lastly, society would not approve of this type of situation due to the stereotyped belief that women should be the nurturing caring kind, hardly the type to know the ins and outs of a car.
Another reason for the distinctly different crime rate amongst men and women is that of biological differences. The peak female offending age is between 12 and 15, whereas the male is much later. This is often a result of the hormonal imbalances among young females. At the age of 15 females generally become much calmer, accepting the responsibility of mothering and caring for others. The role provided for young men is much different, and societies opinions generate the idea that it is acceptable for young men to get into a “bit of trouble” at stages in their lives.
This leads to males finding it that much harder to accept boundaries compared to females, who tend to keep as far away as possible. Family and childcare can also be seen as agents of informal social control in this way, teenage pregnancy often urges young girls to steer clear of trouble due to the level of responsibility that they have to maintain for their children. Males rarely experience this and therefore the restrictions are not imposed, making the overall crime rate higher than that of females. As it is easy to see, gender obviously has an impact on the amount of recorded crime.
However, it is necessary for the person to fit a gender stereotype on order for them to fulfill their criminal potential as men. The third and final factor that I will examine is ethnicity. Ethnicity refers to the origin and characteristics of a person. The most commonly found ethnic groups in Britain are White, West Indian, Asian and Chinese. These are the four groups that I will look at in relation to their crime rates. In general, the highest crime rate comes from West Indian minorities. Whites and Asians have roughly the same amount of committed crime and Chinese have the lowest.
There are reasons to suggest why two similar minorities – the West Indians, and the Chinese have contradicting crime rates. This is called cultural transmission. When ethnic minorities began coming to Britain, communities were set up for them (Mainly West Indians). The intra-social group crime made this a deprived community, evidently working class. These areas became more and more deviant which, in time, enabled the West Indians to become the ‘criminal stereotypes’ of certain areas. However, the Chinese remain unintegrated in the UK. They work independently, retaining their culture and do not form communities.
This means that intra-social group crime amongst the Chinese is rare due to the lack of Chinese communal areas. Ethnicity does have a huge influence on crime, and the media definitely amplifies this with disproportionate amounts of ethnic minority people featuring on streamline and popular television. This highlights the amount of crime they commit as more of a problem than it actually is. The three social factors I have studies in relation to crime, all obviously influence the crime rate to a certain extent. , but which factor has the biggest input into the crime of today?
Social class has a tendency to promote intra-social group crime on a large scale with its division of class accommodation. Gender restricts males from the biological boundaries, which limit the amount of crime females are willing to commit and ethnicity influences crime with its large deviant communities and disproportionate views are encouraged. Al three social factors have a lot of influence on crime, however, in my opinion, social class is the main contributor to street crime due to it’s inescapable economic, emotional and knowledge boundaries.