Why crime is a contested subject
A crime in a broad understanding is an act that violates a political or moral law of any one person or social grouping. In the narrow sense, a crime is a violation of criminal law; in many nations, there are criminal standards of bad behaviour. However, a crime can be the action of violating or breaking a law. According to Western system of law, there must be a simultaneous concurrence of both guilty action and guilty mind for a crime to have been committed; Some people will say that manslaughter is not the case, for example if an individual hits someone he did not mean to kill them, however the intent to cause harm was there. In order for prosecution, some ...view middle of the document...
Conceptions of crime are both historically and culturally specific- contested and changeable. If we look at crime as a violation of moral codes the question that needs to be asked is, whose moral codes are they? If morals change as we as a society grows then who decides whose morals we are setting criminal laws by? In my opinion this is actually a good thing that as we change so does our laws to accommodate our growth.
"Crime is a matter of who can pin the label on whom, and underlying this socio-political process is the structure of social relations determined by the political economy” Chambliss (1975). If we look at what I would call ideology then the statement above confirms this point. We need look no further than global warming, the causes continue to be disputed, but is increasingly recognised as being driven by human activity. Yet the over production of carbon emissions in the pursuit and use of natural resources is not a criminal offence as yet and is dealt with mainly through international agreements which are largely unenforceable, this is a way of governments pointing the finger at each other.
If we look at crime as social harm and take for example the labour party bringing in ASBOs (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) this was defined as a wide range of selfish and unacceptable activity including activity that can blight the quality of community life, nuisance neighbours, yobbish behaviour people taking and dealing drugs and the misuse of fireworks, the choice of these is interesting because it seems to refer to the youth of today and the socially marginalised, and leaves out selfish and unacceptable activity committed by wealthier and more powerful sections of society.
What can we learn about crime by studying criminal statistics?
Criminal statistics are to measure the true extent of crime in this country, whoever we must take into consideration people bring their own values when reporting crime. For example, would a drug dealer being robbed by another drug dealer report that crime to the police? Obviously not, so the stats are only a true representation of reported crime and only represent police forces under direction from the home office. Also with this in mind we must take into consideration that there might be an increase in reporting criminal activity, rather than an increase in crime as people moral codes and values change. Police practices will also change statistics as in the case of drink drive campaigns at the Christmas period
The keys things we learn from statistics are that, they show current trends in criminal behaviour to an extent. The key thing here though is that; if a police force target a specific area of crime then the statistics will go up for that crime at any one given time, we must also be aware that statistics can give society an ill-informed view of the type of people causing crime i.e. race, gender and age.
An example of this is that a young teenage black man from a dysfunctional family is...