The Student Journal of Criminology, Vol 2 No 2.

Times and concerns are moving against us, an up coming general election will have impacts upon, not just university life for students who submit, but also their lecturers and research staff. So its in these times that this journal is more important now than ever, to show off our future thinkers abilities. yes its all well and good having a really good high grade at the end of university, but you want to have your voice projected out there in to the real world. have the ability to be seen, not just marked.

The times ahead for the landscape of the CJS, are under more doubts now than they have been for the past 20 years. who know where we will be in terms of probation and prison, rehabilitation or punishment. society has a lot coming its way, and lets hope these guys will be at the forefront both academically, and in practice, when these changes come about, so they can help shape the world of tomorrow.

Many thanks for your long term support


Stephen Carty

BA (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice


Power distorts the criminal justice system. Discussed with reference to race.

By Ryan Warren

The United Kingdom claim to enforce the interests of its population however, in terms of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) power is being distorted resulting in the termination of justice (Green, 1988). Weber defines power as something which allows ability to control others even if they resist, regardless of what purpose power is being used for (Nehring, 2013). Weber’s definition can be applied to contentious issues involving frontline policing practice such as the power to stop and search, power to arrest and detain despite claims of innocence from the suspect. Power resides within high ranking police officers who influence policy, practice and recruitment. However, evidence suggests that power is being used disproportionately within the police thus distorting the CJS.

This essay will argue that the police uphold a racial prejudice resulting in “disproportionate outcomes for black minority ethnic communities and police personnel” (Muir, 2013a). Differential association theory will be applied explaining why racial prejudice is likely to persist within policing. The rationale for focusing on the police is the high profile cases which has haunted policing in the 20th and 21st centuries. The police receive substantial media attention as institutional failure is deemed ‘newsworthy’ (Jewkes, 2011) and are often the first institution to come into contact with the public. They are the most visible, subsequently the most significant advocates of the CJS.

Britain in the 1970’s and 1980’s was a period fruitful of race riots. ‘Sus law’, under section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 permitted an officer to stop, search and arrest a suspect of an offence with suspicion that had to be neither justified or reasonable (Newburn, 2008). In 1975 Birmingham experienced a substantial stop and search operation under ‘sus law’ following the fatal stabbing of PC David Green (Gilroy, 1982). A total of 600 blacks were arrested on suspicion of murder, although only one was charged (Gilroy,1982). A year later, the Notting Hill Carnival riot occurred as a result of the improper use of sus law.

Gilroy’s (1982) work on the Myth of Black Criminality, although concerned with discrediting work from academics on the left, provides a comprehensive understanding of the social context during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Gilroy (1982) argues that the police upheld predisposition’s that Black Minority or Ethnics (BME) such as West-Indian families were more likely to commit crime and produce conflict (Gilroy, 1982). This is supported by Hall (2013) who argued that beliefs of black criminality within the police subjected the black community to increased policing. This belief, along with the media portraying BME communities as problematic not only alienated them, but legitimised the police’s use of power against them as public support for the BME community was non-existent (Beetham, 1991, p56). Reiman and Gilroy (2007;1982) argue that this is the reason why the face of criminality is often perceived as BME.

Overt racism was evident within the police prior to the Scarman report for example at a police disco in Hammersmith ‘no black in the union jack’ was chanted (Gilroy, 1982). The oppression of BME’s became so extreme, evidence exists to suggest that BME communities were uniting against the police. The Southall riots in 1976 and 1979 witnessed the Asian community uniting in self-defence viewing it as the only means of protection against the police (Gilroy, 1982). This replicated events in America where the Black Panther Party used violent self-defence as the only form of protection from police brutality (Harris, 2001; Smith, 1999). However in 1970, 150 supporters, including figureheads of the British Black Panthers (BBP), marched against police malpractice (Farrar, 2004) they were met with 700 provocative officers sparking violence in order to arrest the BBP leaders (Bunce and Field, 2010). Home Office reports reveal this was a deliberate move to end the black power movement in the UK before sufficient support was gained (Bunce and Field, 2010). They became known as the Mangrove 9 and were found innocent by jury, this is strong evidence of how a racially prejudice police force targeted figureheads of the BME community.

In 1981, Brixton witnessed a BME uprising of unprecedented violence resulting in over 300 injuries and £7.5 million in damage (John, 2006). A public inquiry was launched into the disorders conducted by Lord Scarman. Scarman (1981) blamed the police for the disorders stating some white officers possessed a racial prejudice and developed the bad apple thesis; however, rejected institutional racism (Bunce and Field, 2010). Scarman (1981) called for more BME police officers stating this would provide better cultural understanding of BME communities. Prior to the Scarman report the Home Office viewed racist incidents as isolated events, not recognising racial prejudice as manifested within the police institution (Gilroy, 1982).

The post-Scarman landscape witnessed an attempt to diversify the police, exposing internal racial prejudice. A survey conducted by Hope (1995) highlighted issues faced by BME officers. Including the lack of support services, allegations of internal racial discrimination being ignored by white management and that racial abuse or ‘canteen banter’ was common within the police (O’Neil and Holdaway, 2007b). The survey only consisted of 36 BME officers however, provides a fundamental understanding of problems faced within the police. Ignoring allegations of racial discrimination exposes a victim to secondary victimisation. Treadwell (2013, p 149) explains that secondary victimisation is caused through dealings with the CJS after being victimised by a primary offence, which psychologically can be damaging as it holds a positive link to post traumatic stress (Orth, 2002).

As BME officers disproportionately left the police voluntarily, the MPS organised the Bristol Seminars in 1990, the first recognition of problems faced by BME officers which could be discussed in numbers (O’Brien, 2000). The Bristol seminars found that the police were insensitive to towards internal allegations of racism with fear of being labelled a trouble maker and promotional opportunities were limited (Hope, 1995). To tackle this problem the MPS created the Metropolitan Black Police Association (METBPA) in 1994. The METBPA sought to provide a support service to BME officers; this is considered to be revolutionary as it provided a sense of purpose (O’Neil and Holdaway, 2004). Although this is evidence of positive discrimination which Green (2000) argues is not the best way to create a racial balance, it did provide a basis of support for BME officers comparing to the unofficial and often secretive support services prior to the METBPA (O’Neil and Holdaway, 2007a).

The post-1981 landscape witnessed changes in policy, most significantly the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). This piece of legislation provided a number of safeguards put forward by the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure meaning an officer must have reasonable suspicion in order to stop and search an individual and control police power (Zander, 2012). In events leading up to the 1981 Brixton riots BME communities were subjected to disproportionate use of police power, and diversification attempts exposed BME officers to multiple forms of discrimination. This was a result of racial profiling and the targeting of BME communities causing overrepresentation in the CJS. However, it would take a landmark event in the history of police-race relations for racism to be fully exposed.

The Macpherson report (1999) was published following the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the subsequent failings of an investigation conducted by the MPS. This caused the murderers of Stephen Lawrence, under double jeopardy law at the time, never being tried in a court of justice again (Cathcart, 1999). The report was described as a “pivotal moment in the history of the police and race relations” (Neil and Holdaway, 2007a, p 1). Macpherson (1999) undermined the findings of the Scarman report (1981), effectively washing its hands with the bad apple thesis, and found the police to be institutionally racist.

Skidelsky (2000) argued that it was police incompetence rather than institutional racism declaring that the poor handling of the Stephen Lawrence case was due to social class. Skidelsky (2000) adds that it is not just blacks who receive bad treatment from the police. This can be supported by a lengthy list including the Guildford four. Here, four white males experienced violent treatment from the police in order to obtain guilty pleas (Day-Lewis et al, 1990); the social context put the police under pressure because of the IRA bombings, however, does not excuse their actions. Nevertheless, Skidelsky (2000) fails to factor into his argument the disproportionate use of stop and search and powers of arrest.

The Macpherson report (1999) labelled the power of stop and search as the most damaging factor to police-community relations. Statistics show black people were around 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police between 1997 and 1999 (Newburn, 2007). Macpherson (1999) placed emphasis on the training of officers currently serving and the recruitment of BME officers into the police. To aid the police, Macpherson (1999) recommended that all constabularies establish a BPA to provide support to BME officers. Macpherson (1999) stated that this will inevitably help the police overcome racial prejudice in terms of arrest and stop and search.

The CJS amended the Race Relations Act, which stated public authorities have responsibility to promote racial equality and to abolish discrimination (Davies et al, 2007). However, In terms of stop and search, BME communities are overrepresented. Post-Macpherson statistics in 2002/2003 showed that blacks were around six times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police and Asians around twice as likely (Newburn, 2007). In contrast, the Home Office (Miller, 2000) released research to suggest that the disproportionate use of stop and search was a result of ‘available population’. The Research shows disproportionate statistics are a result of BME’s, being more likely to be on the streets and are therefore more likely to make up the ‘available population’ for stop and search to the police (Miller, 2000).

Miller (2000) fails to recognise the number of stop and searches conducted on the grounds of section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and section 33 of the Terrorism Act 2000. This permits an officer to stop someone without reasonable suspicion under authorisation of senior officers (Sanders et al, 2007). Between the years 2006-09 BME’s stop and search under section 60 increased by 164% (Ministry of Justice, 2011), under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, stop and search increased between the years 2006-09 by 125% (Ministry of Justice, 2011). As BME police officers only represented 4.4% of the total number of police officers in England and Wales in 2009 (Berman and Dar, 2012), it shows that racial profiling from a predominantly white police resulting in BME overrepresentation in the CJS. It is possible to argue ‘reasonable suspicion’ under PACE 1984 as a due process safeguard is not being obtained. The case of Howarth (Howarth v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2011] EWHC 2818) shows that the threshold for ‘reasonable suspicion’ is relatively low, combined with racial prejudice, is resulting in BME communities being targeted.

The evidence suggests that senior officers authorise targeting of BME communities. This is supported by Cashmore (2001) who found whilst interviewing BME officers, that they were instructed to target black individuals as senior officers upheld the viewpoint that blacks were more likely to commit crime, not based on the grounds of reasonable suspicion. Waddington et al (2004) adds that the police devote time to specifically target BME communities due to their predispositions. The Equality of Human Rights commission evaluates the police since the Macpherson report and acknowledges that they have made progress in many areas such as recruitment (Bennetto, 2009). However, is concerned that there has been no long term drop in BME stop and search statistics and concludes that racial prejudice is still evident within the police (Bennetto, 2009).

It appears that there is disparity within arrest’s on the basis of ethnicity, per 1000 population for each ethnicity 84 blacks were arrested in comparison 26 whites in 2009/10 (Newburn, 2008). These figures show that blacks are subjected to disproportionate rates of arrest and are around three times more likely to be arrested than whites. In 1999, arrest statistics showed that black cases that were terminated are higher than white cases (17% and 13% respectively) (Newburn, 2008). This illustrates racial profiling as officers have presumptions of guilt about BME’s which do not contain enough evidence for prosecution (Newburn, 2008). However, court termination statistics in 2005/06 show very little difference in cases terminated by the CPS, 22% for black and 21% for white (Newburn, 2008). It seems problematic to identify disproportionality within the use of arrest proving that the police have made progress in this area.

Bourne (2001) argues that if one ignores the “ideological sophistry or political gain” (Bourne, 2001, p 19) of the Macpherson report (1999), it believes that if someone came into contact with a racist institution that person is likely to become contaminated by racism. To understand this theoretically it is possible to apply Edwin Sutherland’s theory of differential association. Differential association theory is criticised by some academics for being narrow minded in terms of what prevents the process from occurring (Newburn, 2007; Jones, 2009). It was later revised by Cressey (1954) due to it being difficult to empirically test. Fully developed in 1939, differential association is concerned with how individuals learn deviant traits from each other through a process of communication and will become deviant if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages (Jones, 2009).

The controversial Secret Policemen documentary (2003), demonstrated how the overt racism of the 1970’s and 1980’s has been forced underground in the form of covert racism moving into the 21st century. Mark Daly went undercover as a police officer recruit within the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and found that recruits were expressing racial hatred towards a BME officer who was being fast tracked through the recruitment process to meet diversification targets. The findings proved that the police were not doing enough to carefully monitor recruits, and demonstrated how differential association can occur. If for example, Mark Daly was a recruit, communication with officers upholding racial prejudice may result in the recruit adopting parallel views, thus continuing racial prejudice within the police.

Macpherson’s (1999) answer is to diversify the police service by recruiting more BME officers. To an extent, this has been achieved. Statistics show that the number of BME officers increased from 2.9% in 2003 to 5% in 2013 (Berman and Dar, 2012). Although it could be argued that the current fast-track diversification strategy is resulting in racial hatred, as demonstrated in the Secret Policemen (2003). Nevertheless, this increase in BME officers is partially due to the BPA who provide extensive support to BME recruits, serving officers and support staff. Evidence also exists that the METBPA is providing officers with renewed confidence in terms of reporting racial discrimination, for example MPS internal racism allegation amplified from 16 in 2006-2007 to 42 in 2011-2012 (Dangerfield, 2012). Although alarming at face value, exposing internal racism within the MPS, it could be argued that the statistics are a result of increased confidence in terms of reporting racial discrimination, not that the MPS is becoming ‘more racist’.

Bourne (2001) states that diversification is a positive step but unless BME officers are put in places of power, racial prejudice within police practice and policy is unlikely to change. This exposes the police service to another form of racial discrimination which is promotional opportunities for BME officers. Police population statistics in 2012 reveal that of the 6678 BME police officers within England and Wales, only 115 hold high ranking positions at chief inspector or above (Sedghi, 2012). This can be blamed on white senior officers upholding a racial prejudice which hampers the promotional opportunities given to BME officers (Muir, 2013b). O’Neil and Holdaway (2007b) disregard accusations that BME officers are less able than white officers stating that ‘window dressing’ does not exist within BME officer recruitment and are no less able than white officers. Referring to Bourne’s (2001) argument, the lack of BME officers holding influential positions within the police will result in policing policy and practice continuing to disproportionately target BME communities. This is evidence of how the power of the white senior officer is distorting the CJS. Furthermore, the Morris Inquiry (2004) found disproportionate use of disciplinary procedures against BME officers which O’Neil and Holdaway (2007b) argue is clear evidence of racial prejudice.

In 2011, Britain witnessed widespread rioting across the country following the shooting of Mark Duggan. The media blamed the BME community of Tottenham for causing the disorder labelling them as ‘hooligans’ (Newburn et al, 2011). Theresa May stated it was “sheer criminality” (May, 2011), academics blamed the riots on economic deprivation (Newburn et al, 2011). However, what is overshadowed by media excitement and hasty explanations is the oppression of BME communities at the hands of a racially prejudice police. The initial cause of the riot might be better described as a simmering BME community as a direct result of disproportionate use of power from a racist police force which following the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, boiled over. This resulted in the BME community imitating the race riots of the 1970’s and 1980’s by uniting in self-defence against the police.

The evidence discussed highlights that racial profiling exists in the police resulting in misuse of power and ultimately leading to overrepresentation of BME’s within the CJS. The police have made significant steps in some areas including arrest and diversification however, in terms of stop and search and promotional opportunities for BME officers; front line and senior white police officers are creating disproportionality through use of power. This is causing a collapse of trust within police-community relations which is resulting in disorder. The police have eradicated to an extent overt racism which was evident prior to the Macpherson report (1999). However, racism has mutated forming covert racism which is demonstrated through stop and search statistics, promotional opportunity for BME officers and the Secret Policemen (2003). Unless BME police officers are given influential roles within the police institution, the situation for BME communities is unlikely to change and power will continue to be distorted.

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Power distorts the criminal justice system. Discuss with reference to corporation and state power.

By Paul Bridges

In 2012 it emerged coffee house chain Starbucks had paid just £8 million on its £3 billion revenues in tax since 1998 by use of a number of tax avoidance policies moving money abroad (BBC News 2013; Sheffer, 2013; Starbucks, 2014). With corporations such as Amazon and Google it is estimated the total lost in public funds is around £12 billion each year (Wright, 2013). In that same year a woman claiming income support, Hannah Sargent, failed to notify HMRC she had married and was now living with her husband. Between 2009 and 2011 she claimed £27 thousand in various benefits. Only one of these scenarios ended in a prosecution, that of Hannah Sargent, only one was considered illegal, only one caused a judge to state “Honest taxpayers are sick and tired of people like you taking their money”. Only one gained a criminal sanction (Stokesentinal, 2012).

Tax fraud, avoidance and benefit fraud are just a small example of how harmful acts are labelled and criminal justice responses distorted by power; this essay hopes to uncover the cause of this imbalance with reference to corporation and state power. Although criminal justice is distorted at each level and stage of the criminal justice system given word limitations this essay will focus on just one aspect of this distortion, the labelling and manipulation of what we deem a crime. Using academic literature and real life examples we will cover aspects of this distortion by the use of ideology, hegemony, labelling, moral panics, media and lobbying. Arguing that the criminal justice system is distorted comes only from an ideal, the idea of a perfect system that has never existed, nor will it. Rather than say distorted perhaps fundamentally imbalanced is more apt.

The iconic blindfold on the statute of Lady Justice adorned in many courtrooms and justice buildings throughout the world represents her blindness to the inequality of society. No matter who you are, rich or poor, bourgeoisie or proletariat, powerful or marginalised everyone is equal in law (Dakolias & Thachuk, 2000). There is however two problems with this, not only that the law is itself unequal even before trying to claim equality in enacting it but also its inability to live up to its aspirations. No matter how fair and idealistic the criminal justice system claims to be it is situated in a society that revolves around capitalism, the base in Marxist theory that everything else, the superstructure, sits upon (Morrison, 2006). Every aspect of our lives are shaped by capitalism, from our social interactions and pastimes to our sleeping patterns. Our justice system is no exception. Within this system power is the ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events, either in the form of individuals, such as Webber’s concept of power or structural in Marx’s class relations (Fulcher & Scott, 2011; Morrison, 2006). Arguably the state and capitalist corporations embody this. The capitalist class, those who own the ability to control our economy and resources to dictate their distribution play a large role in the structure of the criminal justice system (Morrison, 2006; White, 2008).

The creation of law is the creation of crime, only when an action is defined in law as an offence does it become a criminal act, harmful or not (Chambliss & Seidman, 1982; Christie, 2004; Jones, 2009). It is not the man on the street who defines what should and should not be a crime but members of parliament. The majority of whom are millionaire’s with many corporate connections, as far from the average member of our ever increasingly stratified society as you can get (Owen, 2010). Arguably the policies and laws they devise are just as far from being utilitarian. When thinking about financial loss through crime we think about getting robbed or burgled rather than price fixing, when thinking about criminal harm we think about an assault from a stranger rather than catching a virus in a unclean hospital or a plane crash caused by faulty safety checks (Ermann & Lundman, 2002; Sanders et al, 2010). The vast majority of the individuals in prison are young males with little qualifications and even less social capital; arrested for street crimes and held up as the enemy within (Wilson, 2014). As individuals we are brought into an ideology of control by law, selective criminality, taught without questioning what is really causing us the most harm, injury and deprivation (Box, 1983). It has been argued by theorists such as Marx, Steven Box and Steve Tomes law creation is not an exercise in keeping the population safe from harm, but rather making sure power relations stay as they are, that the structure of society as we know it keeps reproducing its inequalities and serves the interests of the powerful (Chambliss & Seidman, 1982; Taylor et al, 1973; Box, 1983; Tombs & Hillyard, 2004). Although written some time ago the law as an agent of social control is as evident today as it has always been, the Public Order Act of 1986 and The Criminal Justice Public Order Act 1994 is an example of this, giving the police more powers to deal with protesters and make decisions if a protest for any cause is legal or illegal including powers over whether they are allowed to take place at all (Bridges & Sampson, 2007; BBC, 1999). The powerful control and push ideologies with a heavy hand to protect these pre-defined power distributions, led by their ability to define law and control the systems that keep it (Box, 1983).

This power can become double hermeneutic within its use of statistics; a spiral of gaining control lead by ideologies that empower the powerful and demonize the socially marginalized. Reiner’s (2010) politics of the police encapsulates this as communities lower down the social spectrum are surveyed and controlled far more then upper class estates. The formation of a ‘police property’ and increased scrutiny means that crime in these areas will more likely end up in the statistics and subsequently the media, informing and controlling the populations finger pointing at the problems within society. The ability to control and meld people’s opinions from official statistics into hegemonic rule is a fine art painted by both the state and corporations (Box, 1983). Of course criminology as a subject is also not immune to power relations, governments control a large portion of educational institutions activities; funding for projects and research can dictate directions of entire disciplines. The study of street crime filling the minds of many criminologists, feeding the self-reflective mirror of right wing policies and politics (Jones, 2009). Policy directions created by governments can search for post hoc justifications from criminologists. The ability for states to control not only the media’s display of crime but even its scientific study shows how far this imbalance has become imbedded within our society.

The labelling of crime by the state coincides closely with corporations and their interests. If a man steals from his employer it is theft, if his employer reduces his workers’ pay to increase profits it is good practise within the laws of capitalism (Box, 1983; Chambliss & Seidman, 1982). If an individual commits benefit fraud, as in our starting paragraph, it’s labelled a crime, if a corporation uses their wealth to employ financial experts to find loop holes for tax avoidance it’s just good business. What our criminal law decides to include as requiring a response to harms is dictated by the powerful to gain advantage. Steven Box (1983) describes a number of ways crime as an ideological construct are defined by those in power and used as a form of social control. First laws target the underprivileged and marginalised who are far more likely to appear in statistics; this is played out in concepts such as Reiner’s (2010) police property. They create the illusion that these marginalised groups are the most dangerous within our society, drug users, immigrants, benefit scroungers, the underclasses, all are targeted by the media and demonised. Arguable turned into small micro-moral panics to displace the attention of the masses of the true cause of their suffering (Thompson, 1998). Box argues it makes people dependent on the state for protection from an over panicked perception of street crime, making society cling to the true cause of harm, the powerful, like a drowning man clings to a wreckage. Finally Laws render invisible the true amount of harm caused by the state and corporations, warping the criminal justice system into a state that is seen as humanitarian, seemingly beyond repute (Box, 1983). This labelling and mystification leads to ideologies and moral boundaries set within an unbalanced and distorted criminal justice system and can be seen quite clearly in fact corporate manslaughter was only introduced in 2007 with its first conviction not until 2011 (Telegraph, 2011). These many crimes are not seen as crimes by the population due to hegemonic rule.

This is not to argue that all laws are for the benefit of the powerful. We all wish to avoid being murdered, robbed, assaulted or raped and in principle we all benefit from these laws, some more than others. However these acts are defined in such a way that actions of the state or corporations are excluded; acts that have the same outcome are re-labelled to negligence, malpractice, accidents and responded with ‘that’s just the way it is…sorry’ (Box, 1983). The ability of the state to dictate what is legal and illegal can go as far as the international level. The Iraq war is a good example of this, a long history of Hussein’s conflict with the west beginning since its invasion of Kuwait in 1990 over oil pricing where the USA went to war to liberate Kuwait and its oil shortly after. Followed by a decade of arguments over the possibility of Iraq not complying with sanction to decommission any weapons of mass destruction in 2003, American and British troops invaded. Once the dust had settled the Chilcot report was launched in 2009 into the legality of the invasion on which we are still awaiting the outcome (The Iraq Inquiry, 2014). This lead to the telegraph (Seldon, 2009) to ask ‘is Tony Blair a War Criminal?’. Although still in investigation the breaches in both human rights and the killing of over one million Iraqi’s to date without any legal sanctions is a stark example of how state power distorts the outcome (Griffis, 2014).

The ability for states and corporations to define harm and therefore their own criminality seems dependent on various factors many not relating to harm at all. Lobbying plays a big part in policy creation, where corporations and state collide and collaborate in the best interest of capitalism (Cave & Rowell, 2014). The way our state and corporations deal with issues of psychoactive substances is a stark example of how profit plays its part in crime creation. Ecstasy for example is less harmful then alcohol, no one to date has ever died from direct poisoning or allergic reaction from Ecstasy however its use receives the harshest of sentences when brought to court (DrugScope, 2013; Kelly, 2006; Nutt, 2012). The Death of Leah Betts, an 18 year old who died of water intoxication in 1995 is cited by many as the risks of taking Ecstasy, appearing in The Sun paper for an extended period of time, arguably the start of a media campaign driven moral panic, an illogical reaction to the reality of the problem (Blackman, 2007; Murji, 1998). This is amplified by the amount of media coverage given to certain drug deaths over others, with Ecstasy deaths almost always being reported, disproportionally compared to any other (Nutt, 2012), one study found that in Scotland during the 1990s every single death related to Ecstasy was reported in the media (Foryth, 2001). In 2011 there were only 6 UK deaths related to Ecstasy-type drugs, (Drug Scope, 2013), in the same year there was 8,748 deaths from alcohol (Office for National Statistics, 2011). David Nutt, former chairman of the advisory council on the misuse of drugs, a government organisation to advise on drug harms and classification for the implementation of policy, in 2009 famously likened Ecstasy use to being less dangerous then horse riding (Nutt, 2009) and Hammersley et al (1999) with hill walking. The ability for the media to influence policy twined with corporations with huge lobbying power leads to a government driven by agendas of capitalist and moral entrepreneur’s interests rather than the interests of society (Thompson, 1998).

The drinks industry lobbying has arguably had a huge impact on what drugs are defined as criminal with reports of many undocumented meetings between the industry and MPs since 2010 over the failed minimum pricing of alcohol in the UK (Ross, 2013). The U-turn over the policy blamed by many on the lobbying efforts of the corporations with profits to lose (Gornall, 2014). The legality of certain actions, such as drug use, is not so much about harm then it is about social structure and power relations (Nutt, 2012). The state and corporations dictate what is illegal and subsequently what society sees as risky behaviour, warping and controlling capitalist interests to such an ingrained degree as to dictate our perceived risk taking actions.

Lobbying is only realistically within the realm of those with power, owning terms of debate to become the dominate argument, media spin, creating a following, controlling the web and gaining access to politicians are but a few of the tactics of lobbyists (Cave & Rowell, 2014). This is not to advocate the criminalisation of alcohol, but rather point out the relationship between individual autonomy when it comes to harms and corporate power. We are allowed the freedom of choice to consume harmful substances as long as certain individuals are making a profit. This situation is now so engrained into our everyday lives that it has permeated every aspect of our ethical considerations, solidifying hegemonic rule for those who dictate our consumerist behaviour. A mystification of who the true harmful individuals are within our society, accepting the official view of criminal behaviour, as dictated by state and corporations (Box, 1983). This leads to a false consciousness over the true nature of our crime problem. After the 2011 riots a number of individuals were given very harsh sentences, two of which whose only crime was to inciting disorder on social media site FaceBook, they gained four years in prison (BBC, 2011). Those who arguably caused the very root of the riots however, the police, state and bankers causing the economic crisis, gained no criminal justice sanctions at all. Law is created from the clashing of interests and the powerful will always make sure their interests come first (Tombs & Hillyard, 2004). Lady Justice seems to be peeking from behind her blindfold.

The ability for corporations to dictate what we ideologically believe in as being ethical behaviour comes in many forms, a good example of this is illegal downloading. Many researchers, corporations, and governments have associated digital piracy with real world theft, thus implicitly making connections with ethical considerations on the same level (Wall, 2007). The advertising operation by FACT (Federation against copyright theft) shows the downloading of a movie where the act is likened to stealing a car or a woman’s handbag. Illegal downloading is a crime created of profit maximising on behalf of the media industry, the losses cannot be calculated in any meaningful way given the unknown quantity of offenders and the unknown reality or whether those offenders would have brought the item if illegal downloading systems were not available (Yar, 2006). This twinned with the fact that it can increase the popularity and concert revenues of artists gives an ambiguous figure of harm, the corporations have not lost anything physical mealy the small potential to gain more profit (David, 2010; Moore, 2011). However it is treated with quite sever criminal sanctions if discovered. 5 years in jail, and a fine of up to $250,000 for the sharing of one song, stating that even lending a CD to your friends to copy is illegal and therefore labelled ethically wrong (RIAA, 2014). A hefty price to pay for an act that is impossible to determine its harm (RIAA, 2014). However where there is the possibility for money to be lost, corporations will push for law creation, stating facts that are self-created to change and enforce policy, warping the balance between the interests of those in power and the benefits to those without.

As we have seen in the many ways states and corporations deal with the law, it is not an exercise in equality or free from the agendas of the corporate elite and the politicians in their pockets. It shows rather the clashing of interests, in which the powerful have won (Box, 1983). This warping of the system can be so subtle in its execution most fail to see it, keeping the status quo as they see fit. Law creation is just one aspect of how the powerful gain advantage within our criminal justice system, the creation and spread of ideologies favourable to their agendas, the distortion of law enforcement and regulation, the bias of court processes, are all in their own way important factors in the perpetuation of corporate and state crime. We allow states and corporations to define ethics without question, even though the link between morality and the law is tenuous at best. Creating laws that are one sided and passing them off as fair, even though crime by corporations leads to greater economic harm then its street counterpart. In this way power warps the system, bends it to favour those who have it and make victims of those without. Criminology cannot follow crime as defined by law but must study acts causing the most harm within society, free from political pressure or corporate control (Christie, 2004; Grewcock, 2008; Hillyard & Tombs, 2004). Whether balance in the criminal justice system will ever be reached is a dubious question.


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Power Distorts the Criminal Justice System; Discuss with Reference to: Corporate Crime; State Power and Wealth

By Angus Ryan


‘Law is like a cobweb, it’s made for flies and smaller kinds of insects, so to speak, but lets the big bumblebees break through’ (Pearce, 1976, p. 86).

This essay evaluates how power distorts the criminal justice system. Using opposing definitions of power such as Weber’s and Foucault’s do we establish that resources and wealth are synonymous; and that resources are the pillars that define power. We go on to identify which actors in society control power and how they use this to achieve their goals. Using general and specific examples such as the Hillsborough 1989 disaster; pharmaceutical malpractice and the Kenyan mass killings do I illustrate how power in Britain distorts the CJS. Upon proving this distortion do we discern the efforts used to counteract this inequality. In reviewing committees such as the Serious Fraud Office; Independent Police Complains Commission and the International Crime Court do understand the success and failure of combating such a problem; and ultimately its inadequateness.

One of the key features and effects of power is the ability to operate beyond public scrutiny and therefore accountability. The media and official statistics omit corporate and state crime; providing a veil of secrecy over both protagonists of power. To the extent that the relatively invisible and thus unaccountable activities of the powerful produce social harm, creating a range of social problems, and exacerbate inequalities in social life. Within contemporary society, corporations are key actors with enormous social, economic, and political power. It is increasingly easy for corporate capital to roam in a relatively footloose fashion. As part of their struggle to secure and maintain increasingly privileged positions, it is in the interests of the powerful that certain activities of theirs be obscured from public scrutiny. Crimes committed by corporations and the state have far greater physical, economic, and social costs than those associated with ‘conventional’ criminals who are at the forefront of the contemporary criminal justice system; a fact not disputed by academics. Box (1983, p.3) agrees with this by stating that indictable offences are a crime problem; but not the crime problem. The problem he refers to is that of corporate and state crime. Corporations and states play key roles in defining the laws in which they constantly violate, as crime and power are inextricably linked phenomena in often contradictory ways.

The Concept of Power

Power, as a theme, is approached from several different theoretical viewpoints. By defining the principal definitions of power and who wields it can we understand how it distorts the criminal justice system. In essence, power is the ability that one actor can carry out their will regardless of resistance. It is based on resources and wealth, but is not synonymous with. This is similar to Weber’s (1978, p. 53) resource theory definition in Economy and Society, where he defines power as ‘ … the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests’. Weber holds a distributive approach to power, in which he views it as a zero-sum game; an increase in power for actor A corresponds with the decrease of power in actor B.

Similar to Weber’s definition is Parsons (1960) collective power. Parsons argued that power can be collected as an emerging resource; in that actor A and B cooperate to enhance their power over C. An example of collective power in contemporary society would be the state and wealthy corporations in capitalist societies combing their power over opposing ideologies or political parties. Whilst this definition can be seen to oppose Weber’s distribution, Heiskala (2001) combines the two by stating that the distribution of material benefits within a national economy can be analysed using both distributive and collective definitions of power. Therefore, for the sake of this essay, both Parsons and Weber’s definition of power will fall under resource theory. Weber and Parson’s resource theory stands as an analogy between money and power. Just as money functions as a generalised mechanism for securing desiderata available within the economy; they suggest that power functions in a similar manner in the political system. Clegg (1979, p. 123) supports resource theory by stating ‘power in organisations derives from control of the means and methods of production.’ Whereas opposing sociologists such as Foucault (1991) and Kusch (1991) define power as structural.

Foucault rejects resource theory, instead he conceives power to be a network of relations and that identities of actors are not determined independently prior to the power relation; but instead represent a state of that network. He argues that power is not a possession; but is ubiquitous and operates in day to day interactions between people and institutions. It is more of a strategy than a possession; he called this the structural approach to power theory. Foucault identifies four conditions which must prevail simultaneously for power relations to exist. Firstly, a power relation always concerns a game situation in which actors are involved in a strategic analysis. Second, constraint by plain violence is excluded from the definition of power relation. Thirdly, the relation between actors is rationalised and institutionalised to some extent. Lastly, power relation is interrelated to other relations such as production or exchange. For these reasons, Foucault’s definition of power relates to macro level institutional complexes such as corporations. Despite this, he identified micro-relations as the mechanisms of power between actors. These mechanisms he identified as dispositif. Kusch uses Foucault’s conditions to combine both structural and resource theories by utilising Foucault’s dispositif; in that the strategic encounters between actors of the mechanisms of power are in essence the tools of Weber’s distributive power. Because of Foucault’s somewhat metaphysical definition, this essay will define power in terms of resource theory, whilst pertaining aspects that Kusch and Thompson (1956) agree with such as power is only applicable to internal structures of formal organisations.

Using Dowding’s (1996, p. 4) definition of ‘power over’, meaning that actor A has power over actor B and therefor in the political sense the power to make B do X; most people see ‘power over’ as most significant in politics. This is referred to as ‘social power’ when an actor deliberately changes the incentive structure of another actor or actors to bring about outcomes (Dowding 1991, p. 48). This incentive structure, or Foucault’s dispositif and Weber’s resource theory, dictates the range of power by the advantages and disadvantages from behaving in one way or another. Typically, actors have social power over others to the extent that they can manipulate others incentive structures. Such as removing options, or increasing and decreasing the benefit of an action. An example of this would be the state agencies such as the police having power over citizens.

Sociologists favour a reputational model when identifying power. First used by Hunter (1953), it consists of asking well informed ‘judges’ of the most influential people in their community; in which those occurring more often are considered the most powerful. Political scientists, on the other hand, apply that those who successfully initiate or oppose key decisions are then regarded as the most powerful (Walton, 1966). Both themes amply indicate that the governing body or actor within society will control the power, as well as those with the most resources. Lukes (1974) represents this in saying power requires agency; as the essence of agency is making decisions and entailing responsibility. In defining power and how it is identified; as macro-level institutions with the means of production and exchange, it can only be represented in modern societies as corporations and state agencies.

Evidence of how Power Distorts the CJS via Wealth, State Agencies and Corporate Crime

Power, when it is exercised, is exercised over issues. The main consideration of organisations then is which issues are critical to the ideology of the organisation. Typically, these issues will occur in the world economy, concentrating on strengthening the organisation. If actors of power can solve an issue then they will use their power to do so. In particular, the state utilises law to prohibit certain behaviours as well as requirements of others. By exercising social power and therefor social control; the state constructs a contingent criminal justice system which favours itself and allows for the distortion of power, or in other words, state-organised crime. Sumner (2004) points out that this contingent change of criminal behaviour in some aspects of history and not others is because of ideological constructs. This inequality of social injustice differentiates between what is allowed and what is not simply on social status and occupation.

What constitutes laws of serious crime varies over historical periods and between cultural groups, as the changes and contradictions between and within powerful interest groups and the shifting alliances of the less powerful bring about small and large tilts of society’s power axis (Chambliss 1981). It is not justifiable to conclude that criminal law reflects a value-consensus among competing interest groups. Instead, it is plausible to view criminal laws as the outcome of clashes between groups with structurally generated conflicting interests, and the laws latent function is to provide the powerful with a resource to reduce the ability of conflicting groups. It is a resource used to punish and deter resisters and thereby protect the established social order. This inequality is evident in how criminal laws against robbery, murder and assault do protect universally; but not equally. They fail to protect the less powerful from being killed and deprived of what they possess; or physically and psychologically damaged through the negligence and greed of the relatively more powerful. For instance, criminal law excludes forms of assault whose injuries become apparent years later; such as those resulting from working in a polluted factory environment where health risks were known to the employer but concealed from the employee (Swartz 1975). Such acts are referred to as corporate crime (white collar crime) or state organised crime.

Similar to Schrager’s and Short’s (1978) definition of corporate crime, it can be defined as illegal acts of commission or omission of one individual or more in a legitimate formal organisation; in accordance with the goals of the organisation. Under the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, criminal law only defines some types of avoidable killing as murder, whilst excluding others resulting from acts of negligence. A predominant example of how power distorts the CJS would be the pharmaceutical industry. In Braithwaite’s (1984) Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry, he examines the extent of power corruption by revealing the record breaking transgression which is engrained within the structure. In using social power and dispositifs do corporations utilise bribery; financial fraud; trust violations; unsafe manufacturing; and corrupt safety evaluations to sell unapproved drugs. In particular, the pharmaceutical industry makes extensive use of offshore bases to avoid taxation, and to evade effective controls on manufacturing and quality assurance. In March 2013, a supposedly British firm (Rotapharm) was suspected of supplying inferior medicines which were ineffective and potentially harmful to Kyrgyzstan. Upon government investigation, the firm were based in the British Virgin Islands (holding a nominal office in the United Kingdom), owned by a Belorussian citizen, and supplied medicines which were made in Egypt (Leigh, Hall, 2013). When drugs are produced that fail to meet national standards, it is common to dump those batches in countries with less exacting quality standards (Dukes, 2014).

In marketing known dangerous products do deaths result from an organisations reluctance to maintain appropriate safety standards (Erickson, 1976); namely car manufacturers refusing to recall and repair thousands of known defective vehicles as the calculated costs of meeting civil damages will be less (Swigert, Farrell, 1981). This inequality of punishment demonstrates that those most powerful can receive separate consequences from performing the same crime.

State crime, on the other hand, can be defined as acts defined by law as criminal and committed by state officials in the pursuit of their job as representatives of the state (Chambliss, 1989). State agencies utilise power to violate human rights through the use of unaccountability or violations of criminal law (Ross, 2000). A notable example of unaccountability would be the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in Sheffield, England (Scraton, 1999).
A human stampede resulted in the deaths of 96 people and injuring hundreds more due to police services allowing entry over the safe capacity of the stadium. Responsibility of the incident was directed to the police. In response to this, the police revealed statements blaming fans by pertaining to exceptional levels of drunkenness; ticketlessness; violence; and conspiracies to arrive late to the stadium and force entry. One year later, the Lord Justice Taylor’s report was released. The panel found no evidence to verify allegations made from the statements, concluding that no criminal charges be brought against any individual or body on the grounds of insufficient evidence. In 2012 the Hillsborough Independent Panel was created to review claims of public opinion against the police service. It found that police had deliberately amended more than 160 witness statements in order to acquit themselves of responsibility (Hillsborough Independent Panel, 2012). Despite inquests proving the transgression of police conduct resulting in death, no criminal verdicts have ensued.

Forbye to unaccountability is violations of criminal law. State agencies use social power to position themselves beyond their own law and commit acts which would otherwise be criminal. Brandabur (2007) reveals that during the 1952 and 1960 Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, instead of being a humanitarian mission of aid; it was actually a conquest of divide and rule by Britain through the use of violence and murder. The Kikuyu people in Kenya found their land being confiscated and their labour coerced by British development projects such as the building of railroads and cash crops. After an influx of some thirty thousand colonists; the Kikuyu’s resisted the foreign policy in grouping together to create the Mau Mau; an organisation of loyalty to reject British policy. So effective was this organisation that the colonial bureaucracy sought to break it at any cost. This took the form of military punitive raids designed to force the natives to submit. In campaigns of extermination, British army officers launched several attacks that included wiping out entire villages of men, women, and elderly using bayonets, rifles, and fire (Elkins, 2005). In recent response to this genocidal oppression of violence, the UK states ‘the claim is not valid because of the amount of time since the abuses were alleged to have happened, and that any liability rested with the Kenyan authorities after the independence in 1963’ (British Broadcasting Agency, 2011).

How the CJS Responds to the Distortion of Power

So far, evidence leads us to believe that those with less power are more likely to be criminalised. However, in contemporary society increasing amounts of effort is utilised in reducing the distortion of power with corporate and state crime. In response to corporate crime, committees and reports are established such as the Serious Fraud Office; an independent UK department created under the Criminal Justice Act 1987 to prosecute serious fraud and corruption in the enforcement of protection acts, namely the Bribery Act 2010 (Serious Fraud Office, 2015).

Additionally, the Independent Police Complains Commission is a non-departmental public body in England and Wales responsible for the handling of complaints made against police forces. Formed in 2004 by the Home Office, the IPCC operates under statutory powers such as the 2002 Police Reform Act independent of political parties and the government. Recently, investigation is ongoing onto the previously mentioned Hillsborough disaster. Despite previous reports such as Lord Justice Taylor’s, public outcry has set in motion continuing investigation into state crime in attempts to make those responsible held accountable.

In 2002 the International Crime Court was established; a committee of 140 countries with unprecedented international jurisdiction over state crimes. Endorsement of the ICC requires states to be signatories and ratified members. It consists of an Assembly of State Parties (ASP) provide an international system of justice which addresses heinous crimes against humanity upon the failure of a state to do so. This includes: crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes of aggression and crimes against humanity. Despite this, only 36 individuals have been publicly indicted. The ICC is greatly restricted by short comings such as: it holds no jurisdiction over non-signatory members; it lacks social control if countries withdraw such as the USA; and it is limited by its reliance on signatory nations to bring individuals into its domain as it lacks a policing arm. The most distinguishing short coming however is that the prosecution branch only focuses on individual criminal actors; and not on the most important social actor which is state crime policy itself (Mullins, 2004).


Although recent effort has attempted to reduce the distortion of power in the CJS; it is evident that there still lies a huge inequality of justice. Serious crime does not refer to behaviours which objectively cause society the most harm. Instead they represent ideological constructs aimed at criminalising the powerless and rendering invisible avoidable harm created by state and corporate crime. Max Weber defines this type of entrepreneur mind as ‘adventurers’ capitalism’; people orientated to the exploitation of political opportunity (Sumner, 2004, p.345). Politics and law continue to play a role in the production and maintenance of constitutions of serious crime that exclude corporations and the state alike. In sponsoring crime surveys such as the British Crime survey (sponsored by the Home Office) do they continue a veil of secrecy over real crime and exacerbate power distortion in the criminal justice system.
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Power distorts the criminal justice system. Discuss with reference to the three following themes: corporations, wealth, and state power.

ByCallum Johnson

Although the establishment maintains a particular narrative in respect of the English and Welsh Criminal Justice System (CJS); this essay argues that paradoxically it is the CJS which betrays the purpose, integrity and self-declared philosophy of this narrative. The CJS is comprised of several institutions and governmental organisations which work in partnership to deliver often inconsistent forms of justice, as a consequence of the dominant capitalist ideology (Quinney, 1977). This essay will emphasise why radical change to the current system is required by focusing on three themes that distort the English and Welsh CJS: corporations, wealth, and state power. In doing so, it will offer a critical perception on how the power of these three entities can distort the purpose and practice of the CJS. This paper will primarily utilise a Marxian perspective.

The justification for selecting these three themes is clear. The capitalist system in which the CJS operates is susceptible to corruption and distortion by corporations, wealth and state power as a consequence of its very nature (Pearce, 1976; Box, 1983; Greenberg, 1981). Steven Box exposed the inequality of capitalist legal systems and described capitalist laws as ‘ideological constructs’, which protect the powerful and marginalise the powerless, in his publication, Crime, Power, and Mystification (Box, 1983). Box (ibid.) provides the essence of the argument presented in this essay – capitalism (the prevailing economic system) predisposes society to criminogenic institutions (i.e. corporations), that contributes to producing great wealth disparity, which in itself can be considered criminogenic.

The concept of power must be understood in order to comprehend how it can distort the CJS. By paraphrasing Giddens (2001) it can be defined as, the ability of an individual or group, despite resistance, to prioritise their own interests by influencing others, sometimes by means of force, but often the powerful will rationalise their conduct by using force alongside the development of ideas. This reflects Max Weber’s notion of power, which can most aptly be described as ‘the ability to get your own way’, as outlined in his publication, Economy and Society (Weber, 1978/1956). A Marxist view maintains that the people who own the industry and other productive assets – the economic property (including the media) – have the vast majority of the wealth at their disposal and through that ownership also have control of the processes of socialisation (such as education together with the state). In short this Marxist view maintains the ruling class owns the means of production, which in turn provides them with power (Nehring, 2013).

Jewkes (2011) highlights the impact of media control by this dominant group. The ruling class using the media creates ‘false consciousness’ for the powerless class and their subservient situation (Fulcher and Scott, 2011), thus distorting the reality of capitalist institutions such as the CJS and the ‘real interests’ of those who are manipulated by it. The concept of false consciousness can be related to Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony. This is when the ruling class manipulate society to gain control, which then becomes the cultural norm (Bates, 1975). Corporations and those with wealth form the economic base which demands that the superstructure, the state, responds to its needs.

Conflict theory – rather than the consensus view, which is similar to the utilitarian position of Jeremy Bentham’s ‘fundamental axiom’, that is, ‘The greatest happiness of the greatest number’ (Burns, 2005, p. 46) – sees society as being composed of different conflicting interest groups (Turk, 1969). It perceives the function of society and the law as serving the dominant class and handicapping others, thus producing conflict (Haralambos and Holborn, 2000). Conflict theory is associated with Marxist criminology, which arose in the 1970s (Greenberg, 1981). Jones (2013) asserts this should be thought of as a more specific form of conflict theory, whereby the only conflict is the inherent conflict that the capitalist society creates. The function of Marxist criminological theory is to examine the contradictions of capitalism (i.e. wealth inequality, economic crises and the capitalist state) and understand why and how they construct a criminogenic society (Quinney, 1977; Greenberg, 1981). Thus, the school of thought is constructive in analysing the criminogenic features of the English and Welsh CJS and how the power of capitalism may distort it.

For Marxist criminological theory crime is a material problem; a problem which requires the consideration of the ‘historical development and operation of the capitalist economy’ (Quinney, 1977, pp. 31-32). As Quinney (1977) emphasises, conclusions are generated by the application of the dialectic; that is, the fluidity of the material world and its profound effect on all development – the foundations of Marxian theory. The relationship between the political economy and the CJS is understood by using the Marxist understanding of how the state is constructed as a response to economic requirements; ‘Political institutions are a superstructure on the economic foundation’ (Lenin, 2008/1977). The CJS is included in that superstructure, thus being affected by the prevailing economic system.

Greenberg (1981) alerts us to a ‘popular misconception’ of Marxian theory; that a society’s economic system exclusively defines their criminal justice policies. In order to dispel this misconception Greenberg (ibid.) notes that Marx hypothesised that the mode of production would only determine the general character of a society rather than every detail. The economic system is now in question and therefore, will need to be explored when it comes to discussing corporations, wealth and state power. To quote Amatrudo (2009, p. 23), ‘It is not possible to do Criminology and ignore the economic context of criminal activity’.

Marxian criminological theory has aided in exposing the actuality of crimes of the powerful due to the media’s neglect of such phenomena (Jewkes, 2011). Crimes of the powerful refer in part to corporate crime, or more generally, white-collar crime. Edwin Sutherland describes white-collar crime as, ‘A crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation’ (Surtherland, 1983, p. 7). Evidence provided by Box (1983) and Snider (1993) suggests that crime committed by corporations have a greater economic, social and physical impact on society than any other. Given the nature of a capitalist society such evidence still remains relevant. It’s one such truism that is lost on neo-classical/conservative criminology, whose main fixation is on the blue-collar crimes committed on the street (Box, 1983). This incomprehension by conventional schools of criminological thought is also extended to the public’s awareness, or rather lack of. It’s claimed that this misapprehension of white-collar crime is a result of ‘collective ignorance’ (ibid.) No doubt such ignorance can be owed to the impact of cultural hegemony (Jewkes, 2011).

Box (1983) estimated a ratio of 7:1 regarding deaths resulting from occupational illnesses and accidents in comparison to deaths recorded as homicides respectively. With Jones (2013) stating that in recent year’s greater competition has emerged, due to low-cost production countries such as China, applying pressure to the UK’s free market to deregulate, if anything corporations have a greater motive to respond to the demands of the economy unlawfully. Box (1983) echoes this sentiment when he argues that if a corporation is finding it testing to make profit legitimately, they will be relatively content with doing so illegitimately. A corporation will rely on its derived power to enable such operating practices.

Much of corporate crime is not handled by the police, but rather regulatory agencies which embrace a ‘compliance’ method to address such deviance due to the argument that prosecution is an expensive route to acquiring the satisfactory regulatory standards (Croall, 2007). Moreover, compiling an adequate amount of evidence against any one person within a corporation and establishing the required mens rea essential for securing a criminal prosecution is considered problematic (Slapper and Tombs, 1999). This neglect of corporate crime by law enforcement somewhat discredits the integrity of CJS.

However, since 2007 there has been evidence of progress regarding legislation in the form of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (2007). Nevertheless, academic thinking still suggests corporate offences are not prosecuted to the same extent as other crimes (Jones, 2013). Given the power of corporations in their relationship to the machinery of government through their centrality at the base of the political economy, it seems perfectly clear that they would use that power to influence the CJS. Regulation rather than prosecution; it is arguable that the corporations are largely policing themselves with the resulting distortion of the CJS. Box (1983) concurs, arguing that the capitalist system forces corporations to apply pressure as a means of controlling their environment, which in turn results in distorting the law that aims to prevent the violation of regulations.

Box (1983) draws attention to the corrupt governmental agencies and multinational corporations which are a necessity to the survival of the capitalist system. One major question arising from Box’s work is how do these corrupt, criminogenic corporations infect and undermine the governmental agencies that form the CJS? By turning to the Marxist stance of selective law enforcement it is possible to scrutinise the purpose of the CJS in relation to its treatment of corporate crime. As noted above, the power of corporations distorts the CJS and a reflection of this is to be found upon examining its markedly cavalier attitude towards white-collar crime (Nelken, 2012).

Tombs (2009) argues that law and politics play fundamental roles in excluding corporate crime from governing definitions of crime and deviance, suggesting that most forms of corporate crime are ‘decriminalised’. Whilst corporate crime does fall victim to the ‘dark-figure of crime’ (Maguire, 2012), Haralambos and Holborn (2000) report that a Marxist position of selective law enforcement argues that the sporadic prosecution of ruling-class criminality allows for the false claim that the law benefits everyone in society, and that the state embodies public concerns. In other words, society starts to believe the view of consensus thinking. Furthermore, they note that it creates the illusion that ruling-class crime is a small phenomenon (ibid.). The role of the media is crucial in this regard (Jewkes, 2011), thus illuminating the exercise of power.

To be clear, when discourse surrounding wealth is concerned, the focus is on wealth disparity and the benefits that come with being a member of the ‘top 1%’ in comparison to the majority of people’s experiences in the CJS. Wealth carries with it numerous benefits. For example, as Henri and Hutnyk (2013) point out, the proletarian ‘street gangs’ that were charged with various anti-social behaviour offences during the 2011 summer riots are not very different from the bourgeois gangs such as the Bullingdon Club. Each behaved in a violent and destructive manner; the difference being, street gangs are often prosecuted and sent to prison, and Bullingdon Club members are sent to Parliament (ibid.). The critical text, The Rich Get Richer and The Poor Get Prison, aptly sums up this premise of class conflict in its title (Reiman and Leighton, 2009). Despite the book concentrating on the USA’s justice system the mutual neo-liberal political economy makes it applicable to the Anglo-Welsh CJS as well. It begs the question, does the current system allow for wealth to effectively buy immunity from the law?

Box (1987) argues that lower classes are more disposed to criminal proceedings. Whilst this is in part due to the CJS primarily focusing on lower-class crime (Braithwaite, 1979), it is also a result of wealthy people having the means to defend themselves. The existence of Legal Aid is evidence of a requirement by those without wealth in order to achieve some kind of parity in the courts with those who have wealth. The degree to which Legal Aid balances this disparity will always be disputed, nevertheless it could be argued that without this ‘balance’ it is inevitable that wealth will be powerful and distort the CJS. A clear example of wealth power distorting the CJS would be the obvious disparity between the treatment of those who engage in high level tax fraud and those who defraud the social security system (Cook, 2006).

Box (1987) concluded there was a correlation between unemployment and crime, albeit a small one, terming it the ‘U-C Relationship’. Perhaps more significantly was his uncovering of the comparatively stronger relationship between remuneration inequality and crime (ibid.). Spitzer (1975) went further, arguing that not only did low socio-economic status increase the likelihood of an individual resorting to crime, but also increased the probability of a person being victimised by the CJS. He developed the Marxian concept of ‘surplus population’ to argue that a prominence had been given to targeting street crime because the often unemployed individuals who commit such crimes are surplus to the labour market and become over-represented in crime statistics. With the English and Welsh penal system becoming a ‘privatised for profit venture’ (McDonald, 1994), it could be argued that capitalism, and therefore the wealthy, has a vested interest for doing this. Certainly the wealthy are powerful enough to ensure that they are not targeted in the same way.

Crimes of the powerful also come in the form of state crime, which Marxism has been fundamental in exposing (Green and Ward, 2012). Due to corporations and wealth forming the economic base of society, it’s the job of the state to protect that base and secure the capitalist order (Quinney, 1977). One of the ways in which the state assumes its power is to establish legitimacy, as Marx, Gramsci and Weber have all argued (Chambliss, 1989). The law and justice systems play a vital role in establishing such legitimacy (ibid.). Political power can often involve the use of violent means. In The Civilizing Process, Norbert Elias argues that the state has a monopoly of legitimate violence (Elias, 1994). One of the ways in which it does this is to utilise the law enforcement agencies that form the CJS.

In terms of the police force at an institutional level, some of the behaviour of their actors (Orgreave, Hillsborough, and the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protest) can be considered as manifestations of dehumanisation that emerge when a corrupt institution utilises them as a tool for state oppression. As Quinney (1977, p. 44) notes, crimes committed by agents of the state are ‘crimes of domination’. Coupled with the analysis by Green and Ward (2012), who argue that state agents commit state crime to achieve a particular objective, it’s then possible to turn to Chambliss (1989) to offer an explanation when he attributes transgressions by state officials to inherent contradictions in the creation of a state.

Green and Ward (2012) assert that state legislation makes it possible for state agencies to engage in organisational deviance. For example, it became necessary for the Supreme Court to rule that a benefit claimant did not have to repay overpaid benefits in the event of error by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) (The Child Poverty Action Group v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2010] UKSC 54). The DWP fails to explain that such a repayment would be voluntary, and that they do not have recourse to common law to seek repayment. An example of criminogenic state power being curtailed, it could be argued, was the introduction of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984) (PACE). As Chambliss (1989) points out, there are inherent contradictions that result in a tendency for state officials to violate the criminal law. PACE was introduced as response to the police breaching civil liberties (Newburn, 2007). A whole series of codes and practices clarified the role of the police with the intention to maintain liberty, rights and freedoms.

In both the above examples it is the prevailing practice of the whole agency which designates them as state crime. If it were just one or two people in the DWP attempting to recover overpayments when they were not due it would be individual crime; because the practice is endemic within the DWP, it becomes state crime. In regards to the police; the mere requirement for an act of Parliament to codify what the police can and can’t do in respect of civil liberties, suggests criminogenic activity on a far greater scale than a few ‘bent’ coppers. This institutional transgression of civil liberties amounted to distortion of the CJS. Sherman (1978) makes it clear that individual activity cannot be regarded as a state crime. There has to be whole agency or ‘dominant coalition’ involvement (ibid.). That is to say the people at the top shape the way the agency operates in order to achieve the operational goals. Corrupt practices are a means to this and amount to state crime.

In conclusion, there are similarities in the distortions of the CJS by corporations and the state. Corruption on the part of the state agencies allows corporations to gain influence over the state (Green and Ward, 2012). In both structures criminogenic activity by lone individuals are unlikely to demonstrate CJS distortions as a result of corporate or state activity. Likewise, both structures have the criminogenic advantage of utilising self-regulation or self-policing. As a result neither the state, nor its institutions, will find itself in the dock charged with criminal offences. There may be inquiries or investigations but no prosecutions as the CJS would seem to require. This is a major distortion which can be explained by the notion that the state does not prosecute itself due to official resistance and a juridical/ideological culture that prevents it from doing so (ibid.).

Corporate power has found itself criminally liable in recent years but only in a few cases. Again, self-regulation, and as referred to, the cost of legal action, seem to hinder the requirement for the CJS to intervene. Anecdotally, it is often reported with some incredulity about how little a corporation has been fined for transgression of regulations (Jewkes, 2011). Equality under the law becomes an empty platitude when this is compared to the disproportion, both in number and severity, of punishments meted out to benefit claimants who defraud. The unequal distribution of wealth, which the capitalist economy so heavily relies upon, produces mass inequality. It’s this inequality under the law that is endemic within our capitalist society which distorts the CJS.


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Social Psychology of Violence and Crime

Perspective on the relationship between class and violent criminality.

By Paul Bridges

Violence is a word that conjures strong emotion in most people; as a society we are both fascinated and appalled by it, represented in the media as both entertainment and moral outrage. It is a term taken for granted in everyday life, however its definition is very hard to pin down. Just as crimes change over time and between societies so does the social acceptability of violent action. What once might be considered to be acceptable beating for teaching a misbehaving student in the early twentieth century would today cause national outrage (Jones, 2000; Ray, 2011). With this in mind our definition of violent crime will be taken from a more legal then sociological perspective to fit in with the statistical and essay based boundaries. The link between violence and class without the implication of legal definitions is still up for debate. Although the term violence does not appear in the offences against the person Act 1861 assault ranges from ‘the intentional or reckless causing of another person to anticipate the immediate application of physical force to the body’ to the worst ‘actual bodily harm’ and ‘grievous bodily harm’ as well as rape and sexual assault including any form of violence while in the process of committing other criminal offences (Bridges, 2007; Jones, 2000). This essay hopes to show the authors position within the cause debate, combining a number of theories which claim to explain this phenomenon with a sociological backdrop. Using the Civilisation and pseudo-pacification process as a base to spring learning theories of criminal violence into a more rounded argument. This essay however, given limitations, only considers instrumental violence as a frame and does not go into depth on expressive forms such as violence for a deeper emotional sake including hate or stimulus other than material gain, the two however are rarely mutually exclusive (Ray, 2011).

There is a stark connection between class and violent street crime; not only is it argued there is less violent crime in countries with a higher level of equality, but those on the bottom of the social spectrum are more prone to committing such crimes as well as becoming victims (Equality Trust, 2014; Hsieh & Pugh 1993; Levi, 2007; Wilkinson, 2004). Sink and council estates form the environment for violent street crime, localised to those with very little social and economic capital, unemployment, poor education, amenities and social disorganisation. This trend has been apparent and explored since the very first French crime statistics were published in the early nineteenth century (Jones, 2000).

There is of course statistical problems with the connection between class and violence that must be addressed. The consent imbalance of police activity and resources allocated to the lower classes and sink estates is vast in comparison to the upper classes, as Reiner’s (2010) the politics of the police notes, they are considered to be ‘police property’ owned and controlled not due to any criminal conduct but to the nature of social hierarchy. The apparent high crime rates in these areas also cause more monitoring with which comes a loop of criminality, the more you look the more you will find irrelative of the area, the reverse is true for upper-class environments. Crime statistics can be very unreliable depending on what is recorded by the police. In some communities for instance violence as domestic abuse may be a norm, invoking no response or report to the authorities (Ray, 2011). Twinned with the ability for the wealthy to conceal their violence, play it off as socially acceptable or not factor into our predefined notions of violence. Even if it is reported it might not go down in government statistics as shown by Hampshire police’s recent exposure for failing to report 40% of crimes made aware to them (BBC, 2014). Millions of people die each year to the indirect actions of those in the upper classes by systemic or structural violence yet few feature in our statistics, as such we need to keep them in view with a cynical eye (Jones, 2000; Maguire, 2007; Levi et al, 2007; Zizek, 2008).

Within the many theories that try to explain violent crime and class our basis theory, surprisingly, tries to explain the opposite; why are we not more violent? The civilisation process devised by Elias (2000, 1939) describes a state of society in the middle ages before the State and rise of capitalism; where power and wealth were the sole domain of those who used violence, as such it was common place, crime was rife and so was brutality. This was considered by Elias to be our true nature, animistic, Darwinian, echoed in the works of Freud and Fromm and later evolutionary writers such as Wrangham and Peterson (1996) taking cues from other primates; the true ‘nature’ of man has been under debate for centuries (Ray, 2011; Talor et al, 2006), nevertheless the biological theories of violence leave the question of the huge gap between classes unanswered. From this violence, according to Elias, was born the civilising and pacification of society, built upon in the form of the pseudo-pacification process by Hall (2007). First there was a change in the political economy caused by the development of capitalism and the creation of a balance between independence and interdependence (The I/WE balance) much in the same way as Durkhiems movement from mechanical to organic solidarity. Trade was required in order for the steady growth of society, trade that could not exist with any stability with the constant threat of violence around every bend. With this came the rise of states and state power. In order to both control and protect that trade, the power of violence was centralised to become only legitimate if used by the state and the creation of a large standing army disconnected everyday people from violent actions (Ray, 2011). Side by side with the rise in capitalism, the merchant class and growing bourgeoisie came to emulate upper class values and increased the culture of non-violence (Ray, 2011).

This violence did not disappear however mealy sublimated into other more socially accepted forms of aggression, capitalist ventures in business, consumerism or sporting pursuits allowing for a level of aggression displacement, an outlet for human nature (Ray, 2011; Talor et al, 2006). However with the civilisation process came the prospect of de-socialisation, increased violence caused by a return to past economic social ordering and the inability for capitalism to distribute resources effectively. With our current wealth inequality it is easy to see how this fits the class debate. The growing gap between the rich and poor since the 1970s as caused by a right wing neo-liberal market strategy has led to many being without access to the riches promised by capitalism. Without the ability to get anything back from the system over an extended period of time innovation is required to gain material wealth. Just like Robert Mertons (1938) strain theory the lower classes ability to innovate is prominently in the realms of street level criminality due to lack of social positioning, education and local resources; some of which will therefore be violent rather than business innovation or white collar crime of the middle and upper classes (Jones, 2009). The inability for sublimation to take place due to lack of alternative outlets leads to the destruction of the pacification process. Those of the lower classes arguably have fewer modes of sublimation, either due to social disorganisation, marginalisation or lack of wealth to pay for such activities; they are left to find other pastimes that some may consider antisocial behaviour. The strain of material wants outweighs the formal rules to acquire them due to the increasing pressure of consumerism; creating wants that not only cannot be reached by following the rules but even if the rules were followed. Blame is placed not only on the failings of capitalism but of the unobtainable expectations of our hyper consumerist market and the master status created by material wealth; we are more now than ever what we ‘eat’.

Elias’s (2000, 1939) Civilisation process and pseudo-pacification describe a very overarching and quite Marxist view of violence, convincing in terms of instrumental violence of necessity or greed and a good starting point for other theories. Still it is argued it over predicts violence within the lower classes. The vast majority do not revert to violence to gain wealth twinned with the fact violent crime has a very small re-conviction rate (Levi, 2007). Drawing into question the true impact of economic deprivation on violent behaviour, perhaps leading to the ability to adapt to non-violent methods of property crime as a safer alternative or the creation of Matza’s drift theory and modes of neutralization (Jones, 2009). It does nevertheless create a structure of social boundaries in which violence will be more dominant; an environment for the potential for violence. However the truth behind the matter requires a greater amalgamation of ideas that support and compliment this basis of economic instability derived violence. Individual responsibility should not be eliminated entirely as the political economy should be seen as just one part in in a complex web of social dimensions (Reiner, 2007).

Arguably violence created by the de-civilisation environment in sink estates and certain families can be passed on through learning processes into other aspects of an individual’s life; a cycle of generational defeatism caused by Sutherlands 1942 differential association theory and lack of informal social controls. Pseudo-pacification almost requires an attempt to gain something out of capitalism, only through failing does the individual default back to the alternative of violence and crime. Nonetheless the feeling of depravity and its solution can be taught rather then felt first hand. Differential association postulates that criminal and violent behaviour is learnt through the intensity, duration and frequency of interaction with others who use such tools to gain benefit (Jones, 2009). The more positive the interaction with violent behaviour, the more likely the individual is to use it as a recognised method of gaining their outcome. Backed up by research into generational crime statistics, peer interaction and the idea that a small number of families are responsible for a large proportion of recorded crime (Farrington et al, 1996 ; Rakt, 2009; Rowe & Farrington, 1997), negative differential association is of course located more so in the social environment created by de-civilisation.

Updated with psychological undertones into a more comprehensive general learning theory by Akers (1985, 1999) to include differential reinforcement, imitation and self-created definitions (Sellers & Akers, 2006). It relies on cognitively learnt behaviour from peers, family, teachers and other social groups, many of whom may have contradicting norms of behaviour, it is the relative balance of the positive or negative interactions with violence and crime that deduce the individual’s outcome (Sellers & Akers, 2006). This may go some way to alleviate the over predicting of violent crime of pseudo-pacification, it is not enough to feel like you’re getting nothing out of the system, rather than violence being a default human reaction to material deficit it needs to be socially learnt. In most cases the positive interaction with social controls and norms outweighs that of the negative deviant interactions (Sellers & Akers, 2006). Learning theory may also go a fair way to explain violent crime before economic deprivation is felt in younger individuals, the linking between violence and gain comes out of resonating ideologies from the generation that teaches the pedagogy that capitalism has nothing to offer them. In this way pseudo-pacification is as much a state of mind as it is a sociological factor, destined to linger long after economies and social ideologies have changed.

In conclusion, the link between violent crime and class has many different facets, more so then the author can comment on here. However de-civilisation and pseudo-pacification go some way in explaining the state of mind within the environment of the merging middle and working classes within our ever increasing stratifying society, bringing social psychology into a field dominated by social interactionist theories. The creation of pacification caused by centuries of human social development has been broken down, not only by the instability of capitalism but hyper consumerism and a mode of self-worth. It’s argued however that social learning perpetuates this process within these environments, this relies on the quite idealistic view of humankind as not reverting to its true nature given the breakdown of social and economic boundaries that constrains them, but rather that nurture within the system can affect the individual. Of course no change to nurture can accrue as long as the environment in which it is given is stagnantly negative. The solution sometimes viewed as too utopian to even be considered, defeatist or even unwanted by those in power with the ability to change them, the social divide in violent street crime seems only to have one projection given the current political, economic and social climates.


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The Role of Social Class in Relation to Violence and Violent Criminality in Western Consumer-Capitalist Society

By Adam Lea


Violent crime and the lower social classes have always had an intimate albeit often stereotypical relationship with violence shown by impoverished geographical areas containing disproportionate levels of (violent) crime (Ray, 2011). However this is only the start of a complex and deep-rooted issue which highlights fundamental problems in the core of western society. This paper will provide a brief overview of this problem, exploring the concept and manipulation of the term ‘violence’ and cover the theoretical and epidemiological works which demonstrate how the dawn of neoliberalism and consumer culture has spawned a whole new generation of interpersonal violence, most noticeably the Pseudo Pacification Thesis (Hall, 2007).

Conceptualising Violence                                 

It is first important to establish what classifies violence and how its representation can protect the behaviour of certain groups and not others. Bufacchi (2005) argues it is best to consider two forms: the minimal approach; seeing violence as intentional, excessive force and the comprehensive approach which sees violence as violation. This is an important distinction as violence as violation in most circumstances, especially in a micro-sociological sense, would be too broad a definition; trivialising its meaning. However, Zizek (2008) highlights the destructive nature of ‘symbolic’ violence; power expressed by language and representation, and ‘systemic’ or ‘structural’ violence; systems which confine people to poverty and social exclusion. This is not to say that the intentions of these forms of violence are equal, but it is important to expose the ignorance of the powerful upper classes which exacerbate or ineffectively suppress the already prevalent unrest of the disadvantaged, hence for the remainder of the paper, both criteria will be used accordingly.

History of Class and Mass reduction of Violence

By looking at the historical context of violence the integral connection to class becomes clear; from the 13th century to the 20th century, a mass reduction in interpersonal violence occurred over Europe and later in North America (Eisner, 2003). Elias’ civilising process (1939) claims that citizens needed to adopt the etiquette of the upper-classes; moral and social values and acceptable behaviours in order to benefit from being a depended part of the new economy; brought on through the democratisation of control, introduction of formal criminal justice etc. (Edward 1), then later growth in market economies, urbanisation and industrialisation.

These social codes are internalised as what Freud (1923) refers to with the super-ego and in turn the violence which defined earlier civilisation was suppressed. The civilising process could be called over simplistic in its one-way progression approach and somewhat ignores rises of violence levels throughout history. However further analysis of historical trends shows evidence that fluctuations in levels of violence are regulated by state formation and advancements in world economics (Mares, 2009). The Pseudo-pacification process (Hall, 2007) is a similar, modernised model which builds on Elias going further to incorporate these economic changes and, like Elias, argues that that violent urges were never truly extinguished, only pushed beneath the surface through ways of sublimation, for instance redirected through socially-accepted forms of competition known as ‘ritualisation’, hence the term ‘pseudo’-pacification. Although, like many psychological concepts, sublimation may be hard to support in an empirical way, psychoanalysis and social critic; Erich Fromm supports this using the example of decreased national violence which reflected the increment of partaking in war efforts involving the British Empire; what Fromm calls group narcissism. Research from Ian Taylor (1999) also supports this general theory, presenting a correlation between the rise of violent crime and the shift into the current free-market society.

Beginning a Top-Down Approach to Class and Violence

Elias and many others subscribe to the psychosocial paradigm of explaining violence, investigating internal and external causes of violent criminality. This been advocated by Hall and Wilson (2014), appealing for a multi-level theory of homicide and serial murder, combining micro-analysis of subjective motives, mid-range analysis of space and shifts in political economy and overarching cultural formations to reach an all-encompassing perspective. This will somewhat structure the present paper.

The steady rise in interpersonal violence over the latter half of the 20th century (Eisner, 2003; Home Office, 2014) brings into question what disrupted Elias’ idea of natural and blind process of civilisation. This is an advantage that the breakdown of the Pseudo-pacification process has over Elias, using current specific major societal changes to identify the forces behind the up rise of violent criminality in the lower-classes, including structural violence of the powerful upper-classes and the institutions run by them. This last item is the first in a top-down approach to explaining violence and provides the underlying basis for most of the violence seen in the UK and other western nations.

Essentially the problem stems from changes in the labour market combined with the neoliberal consumer ideology. Until the 1970s industrial capitalism provided solid jobs, identities and comfortable life trajectories for working class families (Hall, Winlow & Ancrum, 2008). In addition to this, post-WWII efforts maximised employment and a working class political representation. However neoliberal consumer-capitalism shifted industrial work overseas for higher profits and stable labour work for the working class was replaced by low paid service jobs offered by the array of new business. Hall, Winlow and Ancrum (2008) give the example of how the emergence of work killings, perhaps most noticeably the astounding list of spree killings in United States Postal Service offices, reflects the diminishment of interpersonal employee bonds. In a 1958 interview with psychoanalyst and social critic Erich Fromm, he claims consumer capitalism means one having no connection to one’s work, leading to a feeling of entrapment and an unconscious hatred towards it. This disconnect carries over to one’s relationship to larger global issues, separating oneself from society, indulging in individualistic concerns.

Almost fifty years later Fromm’s observation is still the case, supported by research conducted by Hall and Winlow (2005). Young working individuals displayed highly instrumental views towards all aspects of their monotonous ‘McJobs’, and even their friendships, which mostly served as a means of engaging with the night-time economy i.e. ‘going out’. A young unemployed criminal group was also interviewed. Both groups evoked a strong sense of insecurity and towards work, with minimal work ethic, techniques of personal presentation, family support and other characteristics associated with lower class being the determinate factors whether the jump to criminality was made. This directly links to other ethnographic research by Hall and Winlow (2005) on pseudo-pacification and the night-time economy where heavy alcohol consumption served as a catalyst to unleash violent outbursts in an already hedonistic, consumer driven and under policed arena with a dark figure of crime even more prevalent than in the daytime and constitutes a large part of the recent rise in violent crime.

The researched discussed can be coherently be explained by, and thus gives credibility to, the breakdown of the pseudo-pacification process. Consumerism, especially engagement with the night-time economy has replaced the traditional identity associated with work and serves as a release from the trivial work that young people now face. It also suggests how this insecurity along with the usual socioeconomic limitations relating to lower class can easily steer young people to illegitimate work; a significant proportion of where violence manifests itself. Intoxication does not inherently cause violence but within the night-time economy, stands as one manifestations of the general cultural current; the hedonistic consumer ideology and lack of interdependence in the capitalist economy means reluctance to maintain social codes which in turn produces violent behaviour.

Marginalisation – Structural Violence of the Powerful Upper-Classes

The micro-analysis of individual motives will continue in the next section but it is first important to emphasise the power of marginalisation via structural violence of the upper classes. Although much of the research mentioned here does not necessarily explore the violence of those marginalised, the paper is aiming to build a wider picture of stigmatisation and marginalisation of the lower classes, which in turn separates them from wider society (especially the most powerful elites) creating a platform for violence as a reaction to the social isolation suffered.

As discussed above, violence can manifest in different forms, Collins (2009) claims that for successful violence, a number of pathways around confrontational tension/fear (ct/f) must be used including attacking the weak and confrontation-avoiding by deception. Successful violent persons, law-abiding or law-breaking, must develop such techniques and by looking at some mechanisms of social exclusion, accusing those with powerful upper classes as ‘violent’ does not seem so radical. For instance political scientist Charles Murray has contributed to the US and UKs conceptualisation of the ‘underclass’ (Murray, 1994) making the distinction between those simply in poverty and a separate ‘type of poverty…defined by their behaviour’, constructing a derogatory image of these people which later went on to be conceptualised in mainstream media as the ‘chav’ label (Hayward & Yar, 2006). It seems that Murray lacks the understanding of the very real underlying issues and shares the general dangerous political view towards perhaps the most powerless groups in society.

The power of visibility has been established elsewhere (Foucault, 1975; Brighenti, 2007) and the crude, uncivilised and often barbaric behaviour is clearly very visible and this visibility maybe why these groups receive such demonization in a world of consumerism where appearance plays such a pivotal role. But what may seem savage and senseless, can still be understood through critique of extreme capitalist culture (Hall, Winlow & Ancrum, 2008). Further evidence of structural violence, perpetuating the problem further, can be found in the media and policy making. For instance Ringrose and Walkerdine (2008), through analysis of mainly British makeover television programmes, exemplify how the female working class are presented as symbols for abject, in desperate need of fixing to fit the specific consumer schema of what constitutes attractive and acceptable. This further supports the larger forces reinforcing the consumer mind-set.

A more direct example of marginalisation is the introduction of the Respect Agenda, launched in 2006 it aimed to tackle behaviour interfering with public order of the lower classes by administering civil orders such as Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs). Skeggs and Loveday (2012) interviewed a mixed group of 38 participants, all from working class backgrounds who all showed negativity towards the campaign. This is especially important as all of them, whether educated or ex-offenders, felt it was unjust that disadvantaged groups were being targeted for mostly petty behaviour when that is how they were brought in order to develop their own sense of value in a society that restricted them from prospering in the world of work, an opportunity promised but rarely seen by the neoliberal state. (Hall & Winlow, 2005).

Micro-Analysis – Exploring Motivations of the Offender  

Having explored the overarching societal issues in relation to social class, it is time to investigate how these issues manifest in the minds of those committing violent acts. A possible criticism of the pseudo-pacification process could be that it removes any room for personal accountability for acts of violent criminality. For instance Hayward (2004) brings up the ‘rush’ of criminality, which would account for non-acquisitive violent crime either by those who suffer no social exclusion or violent crime committed with no material means. Ray (2011) on ‘hyper-ghettoisation’ can explain this in terms of individuals developing their own social norms and moral codes to align with the informal economy created out of the inability to successfully engage with the formal economy.

Although the aim of this paper is to cover the broad and deeply rooted role which social class plays into violent criminality, case studies, such as the research of Hall and Winlow (2005) discussed previously, are essential in theory development as they are the only real way to test the validity of general abstract theories (Gadd & Jefferson, 2007). Treadwell and Garland’s (2011) study on members of the infamous English Defence League (EDL) fits in with the concepts raised so far. Participants were white working class; ex members of football hooliganism groups. The violence was not pacified, ritualised in other forms because the benefit from pacification was not enough to adopt social codes to control their resentment towards Muslim groups who they perceived to take over neighbourhood. The Marxist concept of false consciousness could also fit into pseudo-pacification and this irrational hatred towards Muslims, as constant streaming of immigration problems (Mail Online, 2014) reinforces negative attitudes towards certain groups rather than protesting against the powerful upper-classes who have been established in this paper to be the entity maintaining the status quo.

Ethnographic fieldwork from Treadwell and Garland (2011) tells a similar tale who claim that disadvantaged and marginalised Puerto Rican immigrants in New York began to normalise violent behaviour towards women and children who they could no longer control through traditional familial roles or support economically, thus the only way to attain masculinity-driven control was through force. Although this research is more focused towards a masculinity approach, clearly these issues are directly related to their position in social class system          and can be explained in terms of what has been covered thus far.


The breakdown of the pseudo-pacification process and other theorisation incorporating micro and macro factors work together to create a coherent and heavily supported body of knowledge which underlines the foundational problems which consumer-capitalist society brings; forced consumerist ideology on the public and marginalisation of powerless groups which make for a poisonous combination; largely determining the level of violent criminality seen over the western world today.


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What are the social, cultural, and individual factors responsible for ‘homour killings’ in some societies?

By Christianna Aposkiti

In 2001, The United Nations Population Fund estimated that almost 5,000 women and girls are killed every year worldwide in the name of honour. A more recent estimation does not exist, as victims are often “buried in unmarked graves” (Kulczycki & Windle, 2011), missing, records are destroyed, perpetrators go unpunished and often honour killings are classified as suicides or accidents (Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013, Hasan,2010). But what exactly are “honour killings”?

Human Rights Watch defines honour killings as:

A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of sexual assault, seeking a divorce – even from an abusive husband- or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonours” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life (Humans Rights Watch, 2001).

Nowadays honour killings appear more in countries of the Middle East, Central Asia, some African countries, Mediterranean countries and the Balkans. Reports of honour killings have been documented all over the world by minorities from the aforementioned origins (Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013;Kulczycki & Windle, 2011;Kogacioglu, 2004).

At this point, it is important to distinguish honour killings from crimes of passion, even if they might be similarly motivated substantial differences occur. Honour killings usually involve the collective decision of the whole family even mothers, aunts and sisters (Smartt, 2006:5). Crimes of passion do not involve any “thought” or plan whatsoever (Muhammad,2010:24; Terman,2010:10).

Although there are some general causes that lead to honour killings, it is difficult to assume that these causes are similar on every country, culture and society. Therefore, it is problematic to take actions internationally. It seems that a vicious cycle exists and various factors lead to the existence of these killings. Many reasons each from a different angle reinforce their existence, each cause stems from another cause and so on.

According to social learning theory violent behaviour, beliefs and attitudes that occur mainly in childhood and adolescence are transmitted from one generation to the next (Haj-Yahia & Uysal, 2010; Haj-Yahia & De Zoysa, 2007). Thus, the cycle of violence continues from one generation to another, and when violence is not condemned by the society this behaviour is perceived as acceptable and will continue to occur.

Honour crimes are usually linked with the killing of women, but it is not unusual for these killings to be applied to men. For instance Karo-Kari killings in Pakistan, allow the killing of both men and women who are suspected of forbidden relationships (Sen, 2005:48). Also, homosexuals can be victims of honour killings (Cohan, 2010).

‘What is culture? The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defines culture as

“The distinctive traits, including the total spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional traits that characterize a society or social group, and that include, in addition to arts and literature, their traditions and beliefs.” (Cohan, 2010:245).

For instance, Egyptian films present honour killings as something of high value and as a well-respected tradition. Therefore, in almost every aspect of ‘culture’ in some societies, honour killings are ‘honourable’, most of the supporters of this practice consider activists as “deviants from the religious principles and from good traditions and that they are trying to adopt a Western agenda that does not respect family honour” (Khafagy,2005:19).

Society plays a significant role in these acts. In “cultures where codes of honour operate, there is an overwhelming drive and motivation to collective morality, values and behaviours that conform prevailing codes”; as a result, individuals act according to those social norms. Even if the law might not exonerate one from killing the social advantage of recognition, acceptance and respect prevails above anything else (Sen, 2005:51). In highly honour-based societies, those who do not follow the norms are criticized, excluded by the community and condemned and those who follow them are respected and admired (Dogan, 2011). If a man fails to intervene because of the shame his sister/daughter/wife has caused him, he is no longer consider a ‘man’ and he “suffers a loss of his gender” (Odeh, 2010:919).

The families in societies in which honour killings occur are mainly “patriarchal, patrilocal and patrilineal and some regions are well known for inegalitarian gender relations which are highly related with gender violence”, for instance, India (Jejeebhoy, 1998). Also, honour killings are prevalent in societies characterized by “collectivism of extended family clans, a tradition of pastoral economy and a state that has not yet acquired a monopoly in the legitimate use of force” (Oberwittle & Kasselt, 2012 & Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013). Pakistan, for example, is a deeply patriarchal country with high levels of violence, low literacy levels and high corruption (Solberg, 2009). Similarly, Japan and other Asian countries are influenced by the principles of Confucianism in which a strong emphasis on hierarchical family structure and “rigid gender roles exist in which men are expected to be dominant and women submissive” (Yamawaki & Tschanz, 2005:381).

In some societies, honour is defined as an “entire social behavioural code” which is imposed on women to enforce their inferiority and male authority (Smartt, 2006:4). On the one hand women are regarded as mothers and motherhood is crucial, not only for them but for the men too, in order to achieve full status; on the other hand women are considered as dangerous since it is believed that they can bring disgrace to the family and they must be controlled (Akpinar, 2003:430). In these societies, a man is considered the head of the family, and the one to defend the honour “against any behaviour that would be considered shameful or humiliating” (Elakkary, Franke, Shokri, Hartwig, Tsokos, Puschel, 2014:76). Historically, women were considered as the property of her male relatives (Madek, 2005). For instance, in the English Common Law women were conceived as “chattels”, and adultery was defined “as a crime against property” (Ali, 2001:15). Honour involves the woman’s role “as indicated by the cultural norms and traditions” of each country (Elakkary et al., 2014:76). According to Hussain (2006), women represent the vessel of a men’s honour; thus all her actions reflect the men’s honour (Hussain, 20006:227). Furthermore, according to Akpinar (2003), women’s increased autonomy “threatens” the dominance of men and, as a result, men resort to violence (Akpinar, 2003:427). According to Wilkinson (2005) men, who feel subordinated by women, will try to regain their authority by the “excessive subordination of those below them” (Kirti, Kumar, Yadav, 2011:346). For instance the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, which is pre-Islamic (Feldner,2000:47) is considered a practice that protects the family’s honour; the woman’s hymen is viewed as a symbol of the family’s honour (Gill, 2011:246).

Coomaraswamy and Kois (1999), assert that “structures, that perpetuate violence against women, are socially constructed and that such violence is a product of a historical process and is not essential or time bound in its manifestations” (Welchman & Hossain, 2005:2). As reported by anthropologists, “the killing of women to restore male honour” and to preserve patriarchal structures appeared a long time ago in the origins of many tribes (China, Greece, India, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine etc.) (Ali, 2001:15).

According to Delaney, honour is linked with sexuality which again is linked with procreation. Different cultures have different explanations of procreation; according to Delaney (1991:34-35), the concept of monotheism which is prevalent in Judaism, Christianity and Islam shows how the relations between men and women can be more easily understood.

Despite the close connection between mother and child, maternity has been associated with giving birth and nurture while contrary to the evidence of the sensed, paternity has meant the creative, life-giving role. Paternity is over-determined, and in proportion, so too are the social measures constructed to ensure the legitimacy of paternity. (Delaney, 1987:40).

Furthermore, Dogan (2011) mentions that still many people across the world and from all religions believe that women are inferior to men, a “second sex birth, as the woman was created from the man’s rib (Adam and Eve) and that a woman has weaknesses and makes men prone to commit a sin (similarly to ‘Eve made Adam eat the forbidden apple’) (Dogan, 2011:429).

According to Madek (2005), honour killing has ancient origins as “centuries ago in desert tribes, custom regarded woman and their chastity was a representative of family honour” (p.54). This belief led men to consider that they ought to protect the honour of their family by “killing any female relative involved in inappropriate sexual relationship” (Madek, 2005:55). Nowadays other reasons vary in each culture but those, that are most commonly distinguishable, are “marital infidelity, flirting, premarital sex, divorce, being raped” (Madek, 2005:55), inheritance issues (Welchman & Sara, 2005:13), “pregnancy out of wedlock and contact with a man who is not a relative” (Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013:405). Honour killings include attacks such as stoning to death, murder, acid attacks, rape, strangling and disfigurement of organs (Nesheiwat, 2005; Eisner & Ghuneim, 2013).

In many Middle East countries, the Napoleon Law forms the foundation of their penal laws (Elakkary et al., 2014:79).Terman (2010) states that many laws, that excuse honour killings, do not derive from Islamic law, but from the “Napoleonic code and the remnants of colonialism” (Terman, 2010:10). For instance, Article 324 of the Napoleonic Code states that “murder committed by a husband on his wife is excusable if the wife has committed adultery (France 1810)” (Terman, 2010:10). Although this claim sheds some light and understanding on why honour killings exist in some Middle East countries, it still does not offer any excuse for why these practices exist in Mediterranean and South American countries. Yet, in ancient Rome, honour crimes were also frequent and “Roman law penalized men who didn’t kill their adulterous sisters or wives” (Elakkary et al., 2014:78). In medieval Europe, honour crimes occurred where Jewish law “mandated death by stoning for an adulterous wife and her partner” (Muhammad, 2010:16). Likewise, until 1960’s in some states of the United States, “penal codes justified a husband killing his wife’s lover” (Elakkary et al., 2014:78). Thus, it is clear that honour killings are a part not only of Islamic culture but also of Western culture.

Marx and Engels asserted that “men’s patriarchal attempt to control women’s sexuality and reproduction followed the advent of private property”. Engels noted that gender relations were created in primitive hunting, where men due to the physical strength, developed through hunting, were more advantaged than women. Subsequently woman, “was degraded and reduced to servitude, she was a slave of men’s lust and was treated as an instrument for production of children, moreover marriage for women is like prostitution” (Sev’er & Yurdakul, 2001:976-977). Additionally, social feminists assert that

Men, who have very little power or say in the workplace or are cast outside of the economic system, may have a much higher propensity for conjugal types of violence, not only do these men are more likely to see violence as a legitimate force of action but they also believe that men are superior to women (Sev’er & Yurdakul, 2001:979).

By the same token, social feminists note that men who are or feel privileged may not be “as prone to engaging in blatant forms of sexism”, as they feel secure with their own position within the society (Sev’er & Yurdakul, 2001:980). Honour killings according to several authors take place more often in rural and socially disadvantaged areas where early marriages occur and low levels of education (Kogiacioglu, 2004; Sev’er & Yurdakul, 2001).

Chesler (2010) asserts that the motivation for honour killings is different and based on codes of morality and behaviour that typify some cultures which are frequently reinforced by fundamentalist religious dictates. Some researchers claim that honour killings are especially found in specific cultures and regions where Islam is often presented as supportive of these forms of femicide[1] (Reimers, 2007; Feldner, 2000; Kogacioglu, 2004; Kurikiala, 2003). “Other researchers (Vandello & Cohen, 2003) include also Mediterranean societies such as Greece, Italy and Spain as well as Latin and South American cultures” (Reimers, 2007:239-240). For instance, in Peru, the laws of the Incas allowed husbands to starve their wives to death if they engaged into an adulterous act. Similarly, Aztec laws allowed stoning or strangulation for women who committed adultery (Muhammad, 2010).

“Nothing in the Quran promotes honour killings” (Madek, 2005:55). Many Islamic leaders have condemned honour kills as they have “no religious basis” (Elakkary et al., 2014:78). Moreover, in Pakistan, Christian and Hindu minorities are also victims of “honour killings”, something that suggests that this practice is more cultural than religious (Solberg, 2009). Also, honour killings are actually “unheard in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country, similarly in Senegal and Nigeria” (Terman, 2010:16; Muhammad, 2010:21).

Muhammad (2010), asserted that because of worldwide migration and since women have obtained more rights and gained important roles in some societies, these reasons relate to the fact that those men (with traditional and different cultural backgrounds), consider that “their women may become “tainted” by the surrounding dominant culture” (Muhammad, 2010:22). As a result, men become extremely strict about religion, and they turn out to be extremely aggressive. In addition, “perpetual anxiety and hyper vigilance becomes predominant in the psyche of these men”, therefore they develop a ‘narcissistic enjoyment’ when they subdue women under their dominance (Muhammad, 2010:22).

According to Muhammad (2010), another factor, that should be considered, is that of evolutionary theory. Paternal certainty has always been of great importance to males willing to make investments in offspring thought to be their own. Females are and always were sure whose the child they are carrying, but males sometimes resort to aggression to overcome threats to safeguard their paternal certainty (Muhammad, 2010:22) This claim does not explain why honour killings occur in some cultures while in some others not.

One of the causes that leads to the continuation of honour killings is the fact that in various countries the legal state connives in the perpetration of this act and the perpetuator is often exonerated for his actions (Sen, 2005; Devers & Bacon, 2010). For instance, according to Solberg (2005), in Pakistan “a man who kills for honour is likely to be given a shorter sentence than someone who kills for different reasons” (Solberg, 2009:1934). In Israel, a murderer of a woman “who engages in unlawful sexual relations may be released after 10-12 years in prison (Hadidi, Kulwicki, Jahshan, 2000:357). Furthermore, police are often “reluctant to pursue cases” (Jewkes, Levin, Penn-Kekana, 2002:1605); perpetrators are seldom brought to justice (Muhammad,2010).

Moreover, girls are raised with considering the marriage as their life’s mission. Therefore, women “accept and tolerate injustices and sacrifice their individual rights for the sake of preserving the marriage” (Khafagy, 2005:18).

According to Bandura (2002:103), often people before they engage in a harmful act have justified the morality of their actions, so they “preserve their view of themselves as moral agents while inflicting harm on others, moral justifications sanctify the violent means”.

Regarding the victim, Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, Pastoreli,(1996), note that the “dehumanisation of the victim divests people of human qualities or attributes bestial qualities to them, so victims are not viewed as persons with feelings, hopes and concerns, but as subhuman objects, people view themselves as faultless victims driven to injurious conduct by forcible provocation” (Bandura, et al., 1996:366).

Some mental syndromes occur in certain non-Western populations which are known as “culture-bound syndromes”. They are defined as “aberrant forms of behaviour often interpreted as a mental disorder by Western-trained observers, but nonetheless seemingly restricted to given cultural situations” (Cohan,2010:227). Consequently, cultural factors are very important. Kulczycki and Windle (2010) assert that the reasons honour killings occur in patriarchal and patrilineal societies is because they are “a mechanism for maintaining control over women, their reproductive power and designated familial power structures” (p.1455). Women in those societies were/are not allowed to have any opinion on any matter. Looking closely in every society which supported/s honour killings, one common factor is that women do not choose their husband. Usually, their parents tend to choose and the woman must obey and stay with the ‘chosen’ man for a lifetime. This practice is usual in Middle East societies but was also a common practice in Greece until the 1980s’. To find the causes and a possible solution for ending these inhuman practices, what happens(ed) in each country where these practices occurred and why they stopped should be addressed. Yet, in Greece, for instance, when women did not obey and did opt for a divorce things started changing. When “public opinion” changes its stance things start altering; further research needs to be done. In societies where honour killings still exist, public opinion generally supports them, or opponents are afraid to raise their voice.

The reasons for honour killings are various, and in each country and culture, are different. What is considered bad for one might not be for another: “Cultural relativism holds that moral principles are relative, so there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’” (Cohan, 2010:225). Consequently, according to Cohan, supporters of these practices will “seek to show that moral order is thought to be disrupted by alleged or actual sexual impropriety” (Cohan, 2010:225). Even so, this does not mean that these killings should continue to exist, just because according to those societies it is “normal”. There is nothing normal in those practices, and nothing that can be understandable and justifiable.

In conclusion, many reasons and many factors lead to the existence of honour killings. They do not occur only in Muslim societies. Islam and the Quran should not “be held responsible” for these practices, even if the perpetrators use Islam as the reason for their actions. Culture, society and individual factors arise and it seems as if honour is in the middle and “gets shot” by different angles from many different elements.


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Critically Evaluate the Case for Abolishing Prisons

By Katie Gardiner


Prisons are used as a form of punishment for a wrong-doing and being given a prison sentence is often thought to be one of the harshest punishments an offender can receive (Scott and Flynn, 2014). Therefore, prison sentences are to be used as a last resort and for those who cannot serve their sentence in the community because they are dangerous and their offence is serious (Prison Reform Trust, 2014). This leads to the opinion that prisons are needed (Wright, 2008). However, there is the view prisons need abolishing; this is because of the pain inflicted on prisoners, the lack of rehabilitation, and the fact it largely ignores victims (Davis, 2003; Mathiesen, 2006; Moore and Scott, 2014; Van Swaaningen, 2013). This essay will explore the arguments for and against prison abolition to determine if the system is fundamentally flawed.

Purpose of Prisons

Before deciding whether the prison system is a success or a failure, it must first be identified what the purposes of a prison sentence are. Drake (2012) claims the first is to protect the public by removing dangerous offenders from the community. This suggests prisons are useful in maintaining security and safety; although, Mathiesen (2006) argued prison fails to provide a safer society. In addition, Drake (2012) said prisons are used to punish offenders for their crime and to provide justice to their victim(s). Punishment has been argued to be about subjecting offenders to pain as this is the consequence of their crime (Ruggiero, 2010). It will be discussed later whether imprisonment is an appropriate punishment or whether the pain inflicted is unjustified. Victims will also be considered to determine whether a prison sentence is beneficial to them; this will help decide whether abolishing prisons is a good idea.

In addition, The Ministry of Justice (2014) claims the prison service aims to help prisoners while they are serving their sentence and once released to ensure they lead successful lives and do not go on to re-offend. All these claims show that the purposes of a prison sentence are incapacitation, rehabilitation, deterrence, retribution and general prevention (Drake, 2012; Jewkes, 2007; Mathiesen, 2006). The literature will be explored to identify whether prisons are fulfilling these purposes; this will help determine whether prisons should be abolished.

Fails to Rehabilitate

There have been a large number of critiques concerning the prison system discussed throughout literature. One is that prison is not successful in aiding prisoners to reform, which causes them to re-offend (Jones, 2014; Mathiesen, 2006; Roberts and Hough, 2005). This was supported by Joyce (2013), who claimed the prison service does not have programmes to address all types of offending. This shows prisoners are not being reformed and are not receiving the help they need, which seems an appropriate reason to abolish prisons. More specifically, Johnston and Godfrey (2013) discussed how short sentences should be avoided because they are unable to reform offenders due to the lack of time and opportunity. In terms of statistics, The Ministry of Justice (2015) revealed from April 2012 to March 2013, the re-offending rate for those who served sentences of more than twelve months was 33.9%, in comparison to 57.9% for those who served shorter sentences of less than twelve months. This means prison is failing to deter criminals, especially those who served short sentences, which provides a good argument to abolish prisons.

This leads onto the view prisons should be replaced with appropriate alternatives (Mathiesen, 2006). For example, Killias, Aebi and Ribeaud (2000) claimed short prison sentences should be replaced with community-based responses. This has the benefit of the offender being able to seek employment and/or gain educational qualifications which they might not be able to in prison (Aitken, 2009; Jones, 2014). Alternatives could also reduce re-offending, especially for those electronically tagged, as this has been argued to be a reliable way of transforming the behaviour of lawbreakers while they are in the community (G4S, 2014). It was also argued by The Howard League for Penal Reform (2011) that community sentences would be useful at tackling and reducing crime. These seem to be appropriate ways of dealing with crime problems and abolitionists may be correct in thinking this would be more suitable.

However, the idea to abolish prisons may be criticised because it cannot be sure whether the lack of rehabilitation is the reason for re-offending (Wright, 2008). In addition to this, Aitken (2009) revealed prison reforms could place an emphasis on rehabilitation in order for prisoners to receive more programmes, such as skills and educational training. This might be more appropriate than abolishing prisons because it would allow prisoners to receive the help they need. Finally, Wright (2008) argued training and rehabilitation does occur in prisons and some criminals do consider their wrongdoings, which enables them to transform their behaviour and change for the better. This is an aspect which abolitionists do not appear to take notice of, instead they are one-sided and focus on those who do re-offend. Overall, it may be argued abolishing prisons is not the best idea as prisons provide programmes which can be beneficial for some of those in prison. However, the argument to put an end to short-term sentences seems valid as they do not allow prisoners enough time to rehabilitate and therefore, they are unlikely to benefit from prison.

Used Against the Poor and Powerless

Another issue found in current literature is that prison is used against the poor and powerless (Moore and Scott, 2014). It was argued the state have control over these individuals, which means they decide what is and is not socially acceptable (Reiman and Leighton, 2012). Therefore, when choosing what to consider as a crime, they are often biased against the poor by labelling their crimes as criminal (Muncie and McLaughlin, 2001; Scott, 2013; Siegel, 2008). This demonstrates how crime is a social construct, which seems to be supported by Willem Bonger, a Marxist theorist, who argued that the system often singles out the poor and powerless, while defending the behaviours of the powerful and wealthy (Siegel, 2011).

This provides a valid reason to abolish prisons because the system fails to control powerful people who do commit harmful crimes (Moore and Scott, 2014; Wright, 2008). Instead, their acts are either not treated as crimes, or if they are, they are normally treated less harshly, such as being given short sentences or fines (Croall, 2001; Reiman and Leighton, 2012; Siegel, 2008). From these arguments, it appears there are social divisions within the system (Sim, 2013). This is based on research from America and the United Kingdom (UK), which shows how this issue seems to be widespread; although, research in America is more extensive, suggesting this may be more of a problem there.

As a result, it has been suggested by Scott (2013) that rather than continuing to punish the poor and powerless, there needs to be a greater focus on equality. However, many seem to disagree that prisons are in need of abolishing. For example, Brinkerhoff, Weitz and Ortega (2013) claimed the reason there are a disproportionate number of lower-class citizens in prison is because they are supposedly most likely to commit crime, implying that social class and criminality are related. Whereas, DeRosia (1998) and Anderson and Taylor (2008) argued higher class criminals generally carry out non-violent white collar offences, which are harder to detect and are therefore, underreported. This may be a reason why they appear less in the criminal justice system.

Finally, Ashworth (1997, cited by Croall 2001) said when deciding whether to sentence an individual, other than taking into account the harm caused, it should be considered whether prison would be a good deterrent for them. From this argument, it seems abolishing prisons may not be a positive decision because the reason higher classes are not sentenced may be because it is thought prison would not be the place to reform them. After reviewing all the evidence, it seems there is a definite issue of state power within the criminal justice system, which has been criticised because of the social inequality which takes place. It seems abolitionists have a very strong point that prisons need abolishing because the power to punish is disproportionate and therefore, there needs to be a drastic change focused on equality.

Pain is Unjustified

The pain inflicted upon prisoners is another issue which needs to be considered because Scott and Moore (2014) and Van Swaaningen (2013) argue this is unjustified. It seems many academics support this view, as it was argued prison is degrading, debasing and dehumanising, and also, that brutality, cruelty and violence can be found in prisons (Scott and Codd, 2010; Wright, 2008). In addition, the well-known pains of imprisonment are the deprivations they face; such as liberty, security, heterosexual relationships and goods and services. These were found by Sykes, where it was stated the pains of prison could be explained in physical terms or even psychological terms, such as feelings of isolation, alienation, anxiety, powerlessness and a loss of dignity (Wortley, 2002). This list of deprivations have been used in many criminology texts and so they appear to be accurate in explaining prison life. As a result, it seems from an abolitionist perspective, the punishment of prison is not appropriate because it can do great harm to individuals. Therefore, prisons might need abolishing and replacing with different measures of crime control which may be more adequate, as The Howard League for Penal Reform (2011) suggests. This implies that abolishing prisons would be for liberation; in order to allow for freedom and to escape these pains of imprisonment (Scott and Moore, 2014).

This appears to be a reasonable argument for abolishing prisons; although, there are many other aspects to take into account. To begin with, Scott and Moore (2014) made the interesting claim that in order to abolish prisons, it must be proven that the punishment is unsuitable and inappropriate. This could be difficult because it is not made clear how much punishment is justifiable. In response to this, Scott (2013) stated prisons are designed to be painful and to create suffering, such as discomfort, misery and torment, as this is rightly deserved for the crime committed. This gives the impression that the pain inflicted is justified as this type of punishment and harm is promoted, which suggests prisons may not need abolishing. The Ministry of Justice (2012), however, highlighted the fact prisoners are treated fairly, decently and legitimately when they are detained. This implies there is no need to abolish prisons as they are claimed to be a safe environment.

It seems there are two different ways of viewing the pain inflicted on prisoners. After reviewing the evidence, it seems the idea of abolishing prisons is creditable because of the terms used to describe the pain, such as degrading and brutality. However, if prisons were to be abolished, it might be argued an offender would not be punished for their crime. This is because alternatives, such as community service may not seem plausible because some individuals might enjoy it and therefore, it may not be seen as a punishment (Wright, 2008). Overall, it appears the abolition of prison should be avoided because it may be difficult to imagine a society without prisons as we are so reliant on them to detain and punish dangerous offenders (Moore and Scott, 2014). The amount of pain and punishment, however, should be measured to ensure it is appropriate and justified for the crime committed (Ruggiero, 2010; Scott and Flynn, 2014).

Justice Not Provided

It has been discussed how prison is used to punish an individual for the offence they have committed. Therefore, the next aspect needing to be considered is whether this provides justice to the victim, as Drake (2012) claims is one of the purposes of imprisonment. When reading the literature, the opinion that prison does not provide justice, repair the damage caused or meet the needs of victims became apparent (Scott and Flynn, 2014; Waller, 2011; Wehr and Aseltine, 2013). This seems to imply that victims are not taken seriously, which Moore and Scott (2014) argue is the abolitionist critique of prison. These arguments appear to be reliable as they all offer the same critique of the prison system in that it does little for the victim. Therefore, this may be a good reason to abolish prisons and come up with some appropriate alternatives (Mathiesen, 2006). Although, The Crown Prosecution Service (2015) has stated the victim’s rights, needs, requirements and demands are always taken into account, which means the idea to abolish prisons could be criticised.

Returning to the idea of abolishing prisons and introducing alternatives, it has been stated by Wright (2008) that restorative justice and reconciliation may be a better way of dealing with crime because it is an approach to justice which resolves conflicts and allows for healing and for the offender to accept responsibility and make amends, instead of causing pain to the offender which does little for the victim. This relates to the peace-making theory, which focuses on engagement in order for the offender to develop empathy for the victim and to repair the harm they have caused (Liebmann, 2007). Although, it was interestingly argued by Strang and Sherman (2003) that even though this approach can benefit the offender and the victim, if it was to be used as an alternative to prison, it could harm public safety as it may not be in their interests and security would not be provided. This indicates that abolishing prisons may not be a good idea, instead, it may be better to reform the system and allow the methods of reconciliation and restorative justice to be used more widely in prisons (Edgar and Newell, 2006). This might be more appropriate because it would help the prison function more effectively, it would allow communities to feel safe and also, the victim to have their needs met (Aitken, 2009).


Finally, well-known activist, Angela Davis believes one of the major issues is the disproportionate and unequal amount of people of colour in prison, which she claims shows the racism that takes place within the system (Davis, 2003). This was supported by The Prison Reform Trust (2012), where it was stated that when comparing the black population in prison compared to the national population, it becomes apparent that this is disproportionate in comparison to their white counterparts. These pieces of research suggest there is a reason to abolish prisons as there is an indication of racial discrimination. However, McKenzie (1998) argued this is not proof of discrimination; instead there may be alternative explanations, such as whether black people carry out a great number of criminal acts than white people.

In addition to this, there is the argument that racial discrimination takes place inside prison. For example, Davis (2005) claims American prisons are prejudice and unfair to those of colour and they recreate forms of racial discrimination, which originated from slavery. This was supported by Street (2003, p.30), who argued “American racism is as alive as ever”. This demonstrates that in America, racial discrimination seems severe. However, this view to abolish prisons can also be applied to the UK as Cheliotis and Liebling (2006) found that racism seems to be an issue in prisons, as ethnic minorities claimed that in comparison to their white counterparts, they were treated badly, unjustly and unfairly. This research was useful as it found the perceptions of prison life from 4,860 prisoners; although, it must be acknowledged these findings might not be representative to every prison. Additionally, Bhui (2005) claimed minority ethnic groups have struggles adapting to life in prison and accusations of racism tend not to be examined or explored. These arguments provide a valid reason to abolish prisons because it discusses the issues ethnic minority groups face and how the prison service are failing to implement their own policies. Therefore, it would be beneficial to abolish prisons to put an end to the racial discrimination taking place in America and the UK.

It may be argued prisons do not need abolishing as there are reforms in place which seek to address racial discrimination, disproportionality, inequality and signs of segregation in the criminal justice system (Prison Reform Trust, 2013). This is because the prison service encourages equality and tries to remove any discrimination or victimisation which takes place (Ministry of Justice, 2012). To summarise, even though it has been claimed discrimination would be dealt with, there appears to be strong arguments for prisons needing to be abolished due to racial discrimination and this appears to have a long history as the sources used date back to 1998. The evidence from the UK and USA demonstrate how ethnic minorities are treated differently and how the prison service has failed to investigate complaints, which is one of the prisons aims.


It has been acknowledged the prison service does have its benefits and there are reforms in place attempting to improve the system and make it work more effectively. Therefore, prisons may be necessary because they are relied upon to punish offenders for their wrong-doing. This aims to protect society by removing dangerous offenders from the community (Drake, 2012). Additionally, using restorative justice in prisons allows victims to have their needs met and to feel a sense of justice (Edgar and Newell, 2006). However, there have been strong cases for the abolition of prisons; this is because of racism taking place within the system, the pain being unjustified, prison not being able to rehabilitate and because prison is used against the poor and powerless (Davis, 2003; Mathiesen, 2006; Siegel, 2008; Bhui, 2005). From this, it seems there are problems within the system which need addressing and therefore, abolishing prisons and using suitable alternatives based on reintegration seems credible to tackle crime problems (Mathiesen, 2006; Van Swaaningen, 2013). Finally, it must be understood these arguments can relate to many countries as UK and USA sources were used throughout this essay.


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Victims of School Bullying: Needs, Policy, Practice and Research

  • By Abigail Thomas

Similarly to the majority of crimes against young people, bullying is rarely researched or examined because of the ethical implications of using vulnerable participant populations (Coyne, 2010). Bullying which takes place in school settings is particularly under discussed due to the risk of it potentially tarnishing the reputation of the institutions involved. In addition to these factors, the ambiguity around the definition of bullying behaviour can present difficulties when measuring and researching the topic. However, Smith and Brain (2000) state that bullying can be simply distinguished through featuring repetition and a power imbalance. This uncertainty also complicates the detection and addressing of suspected bullying. For example, misconduct such as the deliberate social isolation of a peer may be regarded as bullying by some but not by others. This suggests that any existing research of bullying is probably fairly unreliable and the true impact that it can have on direct and secondary victims is likely to be massively underestimated. The aim of this assignment is firstly to explain why it is particularly important to assess the issue of bullying within schools before critically analysing the methods schools have adopted to help victims.

Despite the fact that bullying is present throughout the whole of society and affects all age groups, it could be argued that it is worse for younger victims than adult victims. This is explained by Besag (1989) who states that adults are less susceptible to bullying than children because they are aware of the environments in which they feel comfortable and have the freedom to choose to spend their time in these. Therefore they are less likely to stand out and be socially isolated or excluded. Children on the other hand are given no choice about attending school on a daily basis nor about their company within the classroom. They are legally obliged to spend a large proportion of their childhood in the school environment regardless of whether they are socially comfortable there. Although the work of Besag (1989) could now be considered outdated, there has been very little change to the schooling system since then to justify rendering this argument invalid. Smith and Brain (2000) agree that bullying is more of an issue in schools, however their reasoning for this is that similarly to prison institutions, schools have an obvious hierarchy among students and division between those who are in power and those who are not. This hierarchy is difficult for teachers to supervise, particularly during break times which gives it the potential to escalate into bullying. Given these arguments, as well as the many others that prove schools are the starting point for the majority of childhood bullying cases, it is apparent that school institutions play a vital role in addressing the needs of the victims.

Although bullying has always been a problem, it was not explored in a great deal of depth until the late 20th century when Norweigan scholar Dan Olweus (1972, cited by Espelage and Swearer 2003, p.365) conducted his research. Following on from this, schools have begun to consider how they can deal with the issue of bullying in terms of the needs of the perpetrator and the victim. Pupils who are subjected to bullying may think for various reasons that are deserving of this bad treatment from their peers and they will probably feel helpless and alone. This is particularly likely in cases where there is a group of perpetrators involved. In order to prevent this, they need reassurance that they have every right to feel victimised and damaged and that they will not be left to deal with it alone, the school will take measures to deal with it. The law states that every school must have their own anti-bullying policy (Smith et al., 2008) which places responsibility upon the head teacher to “determine measures…to be taken with a view to…preventing all forms of bullying among pupils. The measures…shall be publicised…in a written document…and [be made] generally known within the school and to parents…at least once in every school year” (Smith et al., 2012, p.47). The adoption of anti-bullying policies by schools aims to deal with this need by making it clear to everyone involved in the school that bullying is not an accepted part of their community and initiatives are already in place to tackle the issue should it arise. This should prevent the victim from doubting that their experience is unacceptable and provide them with the comfort that it will be dealt with. However, a study from Crothers, Kolbert and Barker (2006) found that school students actually question the efficiency of anti-bullying policies and rules. The students in question thought that bullying prevention being taught within the classroom was the most effective method. A similar piece of research conducted by Glover et al. (2010) reinforces this stating that policies do make a difference but the most fundamentally important factor in addressing bullying issues lies with the general ethos of the school. Schools should embed their stance on good behaviour and anti-bullying into their whole culture as opposed to treating it as a separate issue. Given that these studies could now be considered outdated, it may be argued that schools are now moving their focus away from academic achievement and towards teaching pupils the morals and social skills they will require in adult life as a response to findings such as the above. Through doing this, students are naturally deterred away from bullying behaviours, victims are reassured that their peers will detect and report immoral behaviour such as bullying if they witness it and finally, the risk of bullying based on academic achievement is reduced.

In 2012, Ofsted added the category of ‘behaviour and safety’ to the criteria they use when carrying out school inspections. Ofsted (2012) found that attitudes towards bulling were far more favourable in schools where they incorporated issues like diversity, respecting others and responding to bullying into their lessons and methods of teaching. Given that children’s doubts over anti-bullying policies being separate from the curriculum have already been noted, they are likely to prefer this. The new behavior and safety focused feature of inspection not only broadens the knowledge children have regarding the affects of bullying, but it also encourages schools to openly talk about the issue with pupils within the classroom. This in turn should make the children aware that it is permissible for them to discuss bullying with teachers and peers. In terms of the victim’s needs, this will hopefully give them the confidence to speak to someone about their victimisation before it escalates (Ofsted, 2012). Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 reinforces Ofsted (2012) point by encouraging schools to operate and improve their anti-bullying strategies. This legislation states that schools must “make arrangements for ensuring that their functions relating to the conduct of the institution are exercised with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children receiving education or training at the institution” (, 2002). Similarly to the policy introduced by Ofsted (2012), this suggests that it is important for schools to include their rules on bullying within their normal behaviour policy. Alternatively, it could be argued that embedding bullying into the curriculum, placing it under the same category as the other regulations of the school and explicitly discussing it could be ‘normalising’ it to an extent.

As previously mentioned, the majority of schools are reluctant to publicise their bullying statistics because they are concerned about the negative impact it could have on their name. However, a study from Sharp and Smith (2002) suggests that parents are becoming increasingly understanding of the reality that bullying is an issue in all schools and that making statistics public should enhance their reputability by proving that they are tackling it. Many secondary victims of bullying such as parents and teachers hesitate to involve criminal justice agencies because they fear this would be seen as an admission that they have failed their duty of care to the child (Besag, 1989). Schools usually choose to deal with issues of bullying inside their own institution instead. Direct victims of bullying need to feel that they have a strong support base and that they should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about their victimisation (Rigby, 2007). In spite of this, it could be argued that the apprehension of parents and teachers to expose the bullying issue to others actually leads to the stated need being ignored. The child involved is likely to feel as though they need to be even more secretive and self-conscious about their victimisation because their role models and superiors are shying away from it.

Following on from the points raised above in relation to victims of bullying needing a strong support base, it is important that the victim does not feel as though they are at fault. Besag (1989) argues that a school attempting to deal with bullying by simply identifying and punishing the perpetrator(s) accordingly is ineffective. Instead, it is far more efficient to take a reform approach whereby teachers to try to make the perpetrators aware that they need to adjust their behaviour towards their peers. Through understanding the way their actions are affecting their victim, they will hopefully recognise that they need to change their entire conduct towards others which is more likely to prevent repeat offences than simply taking a punitive approach. A slightly more modern study from Nunn (2010) disagrees with this stating that aiming to alter the behaviour of the perpetrator does not work as well as teaching children how to avoid being bullied. Brank (2012) explains how it is widely thought that victims of bullying are somewhat less socially competent than their peers and Nunn (2010) argues that helping children to identify their own social difficulties will give them the power to improve on these, reducing their risk of bullying as a consequence. However, it may be suggested that this method of trying to help victims of bullying could be neglecting their needs instead. It could be the case that this makes the victim feel as though they are responsible because they are being asked to amend their behaviour. This will possibly lead to them feeling even more socially ostracised and that those who they look to for support such as their teachers are blaming them.

Ultimately, it is important for children to feel safe within their school environment and for victims of bullying to feel less at risk whilst there. However, the fulfilment of this need is jeopardised by the fact that bullying is the most common form of low-level violence that occurs in schools (Whitfield and Dupper, 2005). Although it is not a necessity for schools to consider the issue of bullying within their architecture, it is something that is being increasingly thought about. Foucault’s (1982) notion of governmentality suggests that we adjust our behaviour on the basis that we are unsure of whether we are being monitored or not. This is due to the rising levels of surveillance that are embedded into the planning and construction of buildings (Foucault, 1982). This is being used in response to the needs of victims of bullying with the installation of surveillance methods such as CCTV and glass doors in most schools and the avoidance of areas that cannot be seen by a supervisor or teacher (Besag, 1989). Additionally, when studying the dynamics of the school in relation to bullying, it is suggested by Bowes et al. (2009) that the overall population of the school could be important. This study found that the likelihood of becoming a victim of bullying increased with the size of the school. Although this finding is not explained in any depth, it could be caused by some children in larger schools feeling socially overwhelmed and uncomfortable around a lot of their peers. An element of strength is added to this argument by Bollmer et al. (2005), who state that children with a lack of powerful friendships are more likely to be victimised. This is due to them not having strong enough bonds with peers to enable them to feel that they can express their worries about bullying. Based on these points, it is apparent that victims of bullying need to be placed in smaller classes to make is easier for them to interact with their peers and gain social confidence.


In conclusion, it is apparent that bullying in all its forms can have a hugely negative impact on victims. The role of the school is essential to dealing with the needs of these victims as it can be considered the foundation for the development of the majority of bullying behaviour. As previously mentioned, bullying is an under researched area and this is evident through the lack of up to date information available on the topic. However, it cannot be denied that bullying in schools remains an issue, which is why the research requires constant updating in line with the changing aims of educational institutions. Ultimately, one of the main issues presented when aiming to deal with the needs of victims of bullying is that it is not a specific crime in the UK. The criminal behaviours often involved in it such as harassment and threatening are therefore relied upon.


Besag, V.E. (1989) Bullies and Victims in Schools. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Bollmer, J.M., Milich, R., Harris, M.J. and Maras, M.A. (2005) A friend in need: the role of friendship quality as a protective factor in peer victimization. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 20 (6), pp. 701-712.

Bowes, L.M., Arseneault, L., Maughan, B., Taylor, A., Caspi, A. and Moffit, T.E. (2009) School, neighborhood, and family factors are associated with children’s bullying involvement: a nationally representative longitudinal study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 48 (5), pp. 545-553.

Brank, E.M. (2012) Bullying in schools: lessons from two decades of research. Annual Review of Law and Social Science. 8 (1), pp. 213-230.

Coyne, I. (2010) Accessing children as research participants: examining the role of gatekeepers. Child: Care, Health and Development. 36 (4), pp. 452-454.

Crothers, L.M., Kolbert, J.B. and Barker, W.F. (2006) Middle school students’ preferences for anti-bullying interventions. School Psychology International. 27 (4), pp. 475-487.

Espelage, D.L. and Swearer, S.M. (2003) Research on school bullying and victimization: What have we learned and where do we go from here?. School Psychology Review. 32 (3), pp. 365-383.

Foucault, M. (1982) The Subject and Power. Critical Inquiry. 8 (4), pp. 777-795.

Glover, D., Cartwright, N., Gough, G. and Johnson, M. (2010) The Introduction of Anti-bullying Policies: Do policies help in the management of change?. School Leadership & Management: Formerly School Organisation. 18 (1), pp. 89-105. (2002) Education Act 2002 [online]. Available from: [Accessed 20 November 2014].

Nunn, K.P. (2010) Bullying. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. 46 (4), pp. 140-141.

Ofsted. (2012) No Place For Bullying [online]. Avaialble from: [Accessed 18 November 2014].

Rigby, K. (2007) Bullying in Schools and What to Do About It: Revised and Updated. Victoria: Acer Press.

Sharp, S. and Smith, P.K. (2002) School Bullying: Insights and Perspectives. : Routledge.

Smith, P.K. and Brain, P. (2000) Bullying in schools: Lessons from two decades of research. Aggressive Behaviour. 1 (26), pp. 1-9.

Smith, P.K., Smith, C., Osbourne, R. and Samara, M. (2008) A content analysis of school anti‐bullying policies: progress and limitations. Educational Psychology in Practice. 24 (1), pp. 1-12.

Smith, P.K., Mora-Merchan, J., Kupferberg, A., Osborn, R., Bosley, S. and Samara, M. (2012) A content analysis of school anti-bullying policies: a follow-up after six years. Educational Psychology in Practice. 8 (1), p. 47.

Whitfield, K.S. and Dupper, D.R. (2005) Best practices for preventing or reducing bullying in schools. Children and Schools. 27 (3), pp. 167-175.

Case Study on Canada

By Tara Chesworth


This case study will focus on the Canadian Criminal Justice System (CCJS). The aim of this study is to draw detailed analysis on specific aspects of the country’s justice system including its crime rates and approach to social control. How global policy transfer affects the country will also be examined in order to show how Canada interacts with international development. A historical context of Canada’s legislative and punishment systems will be covered; the study will reconnoitre the development of human rights within Canada and see if political bias has occurred that may have led to discriminative practice within their system. Furthermore, the study will investigate Canada’s approach to imprisonment and draw comparison to the UK‘s approach. Finally, a summary of the information gathered for this study will be provided and recommendations will be given in order to improve the CCJS. However, before it is possible to answer the study’s aim, it is vital to grasp an understanding of the key theory behind international relations that will be related back to Canada throughout the study.

Key Theory

State crime is at the core of this study and so is an important term to define. For the context of this paper, state is the word associated towards the politics and singular ruling governmental power over a country (Kukathas, 2008), in this instance the federal government of Canada. It is deducible from Kukathas’ (2008) definition of state, that state crime can be defined as governmental criminality (George, 2011). Green and Ward (2004) add that the violation of human rights also occurs in the vast majority of state crimes. Examples of state crimes can be found throughout the world, including genocides and war crimes (ibid). These state crimes can be linked by international themes.

When discussing international relations, especially with focus towards justice systems, Global Policy Transfer (GPT) is widely used. GPT is understood differently and enacted differently by each country in the world depending on their government and other influencing powers of their own system, such as the United Nations (UN). GPT is the sharing of knowledge regarding parliamentary, justice and policy systems from one country to another (Dolowitz and Marsh, 2000; Stone, 2001; Benson and Jordan, 2011). It is often used by first world countries who share information regarding how they have developed their own systems to help second or third world countries evolve in order to gain financial benefits, treaties of land, or cultivate trust with an outside nation (ibid). However, through this process countries can, if their government or parliamentary system is that way inclined, begin to take hold of global governance through the GPT process.

Global governance is the implementation of a body or organisation that oversees a small or large group of states or non-state governments in order to ensure correct practice, relationships and roles (Slaughter, Tulumello and Wood, 1998). The impact of global governance may be an aid towards peaceful harmony; as displayed during harmonization, a mechanism of global governance wherein the sole aim of the partnership between international governments is to modify policy in order to bring peace to the largest portion of society (Stone, 2001; Howlett, 2000). However global governance can also be used to create powerful dictatorships throughout singular countries or entire regions, as demonstrated by the current affairs of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Using violence, threatening behaviour and war techniques, ISIL has become dominant political figures within the Middle East, seizing their power through what GPT refers to as ‘imposition’ (Walsh, 2014; Khedery, 2014).

Imposition is the forceful implementation of specific policies and practices upon other countries and regions. Although in the example of ISIL military action was used in order to attain their imposition, in the majority of cases military intervention has not been necessary (Slaughter, Tulumello and Wood, 1998). The other method of global governance is diffusion; the process in which information and research are developed and communicated throughout the social system and therefore affects policy choices through informal intimidation (Simmons and Elkins, 2003). Diffusion is found mostly in the grouping of nations, for example the Commonwealth.

Canada is a member of the Commonwealth; this means that currently the country shares GPT ties with all other Commonwealth nations with specific GPT connections to the UK (Alam, 2014). However, since its discovery in 1534 (Miles, 2013), Canada has been shaped and helped by several notable influences (Department of Justice Canada, 2005).

Historical Context of the CCJS

In its development many outside parties and countries have played their part in influencing the current CCJS (Department of Justice Canada, 2005). In its birth, the system derived itself from the European immigrants who brought knowledge of their own legal systems to Canada in the late 17th century and throughout the 18th century (ibid; Canadian Pardon Service, 2015). Though in the beginning these influences did not hold as law and legislation, overtime the prospect of the European Justice System began to become dominant.

On September 13th 1759, the Battle of Quebec (image 1)

Image 1: The Battle of Quebec Illustration (Canadian Military Journal, 2006)

Image 1: The Battle of Quebec Illustration (Canadian Military Journal, 2006)

occurred between the French and native settlers and the British (, 2009; Department of Justice Canada, 2005). The British won the battle and consequently English law became dominant throughout Canada, with the exception of Quebec which was granted permission to keep the civil law based on the Napoleon Code (Department of Justice Canada, 2005). This made Canada one of the only ‘bi-jural’ countries in the world, meaning they had two separate legal systems in place within the same country for both civil and common law (Department of Justice Canada, 2005; Canadian Pardon Service, 2015).

Common law evolved in Great Britain after the Norman Conquest. This is a legal system wherein precedent and discretion gives great power to the court judges, as oppose to having to follow a strict compilation of legal rules and statutes (University of California at Berkeley, n.d; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2013). However, it is important to note that there is still some legislation that predetermines specific sentences within the common law system (ibid). For example, if a person came before the court and was found guilty of murder, the judge could not use their precedent or discretion to sentence the murderer to a simple fine, as there are legislative minimum sentences for these serious offences which judges have to adhere to (ibid). However, in Quebec there is a practice of civil law that is contrary to this common law definition.

Civil law has been codified in Quebec, meaning that a comprehensive and updated list of legislative sentences that cover all criminal activity has been drawn up (University of California at Berkeley, n.d; Department of Justice Canada, 2005). This compilation also contains the correct procedures for dealing with each court case, as well as the sentence that should be given out to the person(s) before the court should they be found guilty (ibid). In this system, there are three types of law that work alongside each other to ensure fair procedures are given to those who enter the justice system:

  1. Substantive law: meaning what type of behaviour is subject to prosecution.
  2. Procedural law: meaning the decision to constitute the act as a criminal offence.
  • Penal law: meaning the sentence given should the procedural law criminalise the act.

(University of California at Berkley, n.d; Semeraro, Cohn and Philips, n.d)

Inside these legislative pathways there are aspects of Aboriginal laws and rights that are recognised under constitution (Department of Justice Canada, 2005). This recognition gives the Aboriginal people rights to use of specific land within Canada (ibid). Aboriginal settlers have also had influence during the development of the CCJS; their techniques of sentencing and use of rehabilitation within their own communities being a positive influence on the current system and parliamentary makeup (Isaac and Knox, 2004).

Image 2: A labelled map of Canada’s provinces (Trail Canada, 2015)

The Canadian Parliament canada

Canada is a federation country, meaning it is made up of several provinces which are run by a central government (Department of Justice Canada, 2005; Forsey, 2010). Image 2 displays these provinces. The central government is based in Ottawa, the Capital of Canada, which is located in Southern Ontario (, 2011).

Parliament is responsible for the making and passing of legislation, which is then enacted into the provinces the legislation applies towards (Department of Justice Canada, 2005; Forsey, 2010). The central government is run by constitution, which is a set of principles and rules that defines where the power lies within the country (ibid). This power has been split into three separate entities, the executive, legislative and judicial powers. Executive power, which is vested in Her Majesty (HM) the Queen of England (as Canada falls under the Commonwealth), is given to those in Cabinet, for example the Prime Minister and other Ministers of Canada. Legislative power is bestowed upon all those within the House of Commons, as well as the Senate and representatives of HM the Queen of England (ibid), and gives the right to create or modify laws. Finally, judicial power lies with the Department of Justice Canada and the judges within the court system who deal with cases face-to-face; this power enables the judges to be able to use their precedent and discretion during hearings and sentencing procedures (ibid).

Each province has smaller judicial systems in place to deal with local crime, which includes separate courts, Police forces and other criminal justice agencies and partnerships (Department of Justice, 2005). Provinces can also pass legislation through to the central government through this process:

  1. A problem or idea for new legislation is deliberated before the government.
  2. Upon acceptance, Ministers and senior public servants will be asked to provide detailed evidence and examinations to further analyse the problem, or idea, to ensure it is valuable enough for legislation.
  3. Research is then passed into the Cabinet as a draft bill. The Cabinet is composed of members of parliament chosen by the Prime Minister and Senate. After a first reading, a discussion, and later a second reading wherein a vote takes place, the drafted bill will either be accepted or denied. If it is denied, the Ministers and senior public servants will either be asked to make thorough changes to the drafted bill or it will be discarded completely.
  4. Once accepted, the draft is then presented to parliament as a bill. A final reading takes place and the bill is then either past and made into law if the majority of the House of Commons and the Senate agree or sent back to the Cabinet for changes.
  5. If passed, the Governor General of Canada then gives the bill Royal Assent which turns it into law in the name of HM the Queen of England.
    • If the law is provincial legislation (meaning it will only hold as law in one province) it is given Royal Assent by the Lieutenant General in the name of HM the Queen of England.

(Department of Justice Canada, 2005; Forsey, 2010; Parliament of Canada, 2009)

Developing Social Control: Enforcement of Law within Canada

Like most countries, the CCJS has three main agencies; the Police, the Probation and the Prison Service. The enforcement of all legislation passed by the government is the responsibility of these three core services. The majority of responsibility for enforcement lies with the Police force.

Although influenced by the UK’s Police, due to the size of the country and the difference in communities it has been vital to adapt and evolve the way in which the Police are run in Canada. There are three levels of Police power within Canada; municipal, provincial and federal (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 2015). The highest power, federal, is commissioned to the national Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) (Image 3)

Image 3: Police Officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Canadian Design Resource, 2009)

Image 3: Police Officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Canadian Design Resource, 2009)

. The RCMP then contract out power to provinces, this power is the provincial power and allows each province to enforce the laws specific to their communities (ibid). Large provinces then pass on the final level of power, municipal, to small city or regional police forces (ibid). For example, Ontario (see image 2 for location) gave the city of Toronto power to run their own police force to specifically oversee the enforcement of law and safety of the public within Toronto alone (Toronto Police Service, 2015). Similarly, large scale tourist areas and companies commission private Police forces. An example of this is the Canadian National Railway, whose private Police force enacts the Railway Safety Act in place of the RCMP and government (Canadian National Railway, 2015).

The Canadian Police, as a whole entity, are positively received by the public. A study conducted by the Employment and Social Development Canada organisation (2005) showed that 61% of Canadians were satisfied with the level of safety and the enforcement of law techniques being used by their local Police Officers. Another more recent study, reinforced that the public held positive perceptions of the Police; however, it made note that this positive result should not stop the Police force making further efforts to improve their service to the public (Chow, 2012).

The importance of public perception towards the Police is discussed by academics throughout the world. Roberts and Stalans (1997) argue that the correlation between local Police and positive public perceptions leads to a higher level of trust between the two parties; therefore, more information is passed through to the Police, making them able to focus their resources more effectively on issues that are troubling the community. This in turn then leads to a decrease in crime and a further increase in public trust resulting in an unaggressive form of social control (Roberts and Stalans, 1997; Cebulla and Stephens, 2010).

Despite their popularity, it is apparent that there has been little detailed research into the effectiveness and reliability of the Police within Canada; especially compared to the wealth of statistics available on UK Police. However, statistics do show that the between 2001 and 2012, crime fell by 21% following a 9% rise in the number of Police Officers throughout the country (Gillis, 2014). It is deducible then that the system in place is working, though it is difficult to understand the statistics without thorough research and reports into the Police force. When criminal behaviour cannot be deterred by the Police Force, the Probation service deals with the outcome of court proceedings.

The Probation service in Canada is used by the court when offenders are either deemed unfit to be released from Prison without any supervision at all, or if it is ruled that a custodial sentence is not necessary, but supervision, guidance and rehabilitation are (Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, 2015). One of main programmes of probation within Canada is the Reasoning and Rehabilitation (R&R) course which has had positive results of reducing recidivism of offenders by 14% (Tong and Farrington, 2006). R&R incorporates cognitive-behavioural theories and teaches offenders cognitive awareness skills they may not already have (Ross, Fabiano and Ross, n.d). After originating in Canada, it is a technique that has now been passed to other countries, through GPT, around the world including England and Wales (Raynor and Vanstone, 1994).

Key criminologists have had significant impact on the policy and practice within the Probation Service. Trotter (1996) evolved the idea of 1-to-1 working with offenders by creating a framework to challenge anti-social behaviour displayed within a majority of offenders in probation. This approach argued the prominence of the development of a healthy, trusting relationship between Probation Officer and offender in order to make the challenges more legitimate and effective (Trotter, 1996). It was added that this relationship would be slowly but efficiently made if the Probation Officer ensured genuine reliability, politeness, honesty, empathy and support of extra-curricular activities towards the offender (ibid). A study showed that the combination of just two of these techniques had a smaller reconviction rate compared to a control group who did not receive the combination of techniques in their treatment (Shapland et al., 2012). However, for those who the Probation cannot rehabilitate, the CCJS may take them out of temporary supervision and place them into custody for closer monitoring.

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is a world leader within the international corrections community (Correctional Service Canada, 2015). Due to this, it is a central figure within the GPT for correctional information, sharing expertise with Mexico, South Korea and other UN and Commonwealth countries (ibid). CSC are renowned for their Restorative Justice (RJ) heavy approach to dealing with prisoners, as oppose to a more harsh, punitive method as displayed in the Criminal Justice System of the UK.

The Restorative Opportunities (RO) programme incorporates the victim within the offender’s treatment, allowing the offender to understand the harm they have caused and in turn giving the victim the knowledge and proof that the person who has caused them harm is being treated and punished (Correctional Service Canada, 2012). After the encounter between victim and offender, the offender is then asked to make amends for the damage they have caused. This is put in place in order to help the offender fully understand the impact they have caused on their victim (Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, 2011). Succeeding this stage, both the offender and the victims undergo steps to become reintegrated as contributing, active members of society (ibid). For this, the victim may undergo therapy or group support classes whereas the offender could be enrolled onto education, employment or a variety of other skills and training programmes before their custodial sentence is complete (ibid).

Whilst RJ has displayed positive results, it is noteworthy that there are significant limitations. For example, the programme cannot be successful if the offender does not admit their guilt (ibid). Other limitations include the resistance of participation from the victim and the amount of resources and trained members of staff available to the prison compared to the prisoners requiring RJ ratio (ibid). Whilst the system is heavily focused on the rehabilitation of offenders, offenders who do not fit into the right requirements, or cannot yet be placed on an RJ programme as well as those who are on the programme but are still on a custodial sentence, are still effectively managed through punitive methods. The methods used are similar to that of prisons within the UK where offenders are kept to strict codes and discipline (Correction Service Canada, 2015). However, studies have shown that the move from punitive, adversarial, methods within prisons to the RJ approach has had significant positive results, both for recidivism statistics and for victim satisfaction (Latimer, Dowden and Muise, 2005; Department of Justice Canada, 2001).

From the analysis of the three core agencies, it is apparent that the current system in place which is used to maintain social control over the public is working and that the trust between the public and the CCJS is greater than what can be found in the UK. The techniques used throughout the CCJS have become examples that, through GPT, other countries are now beginning to adapt. However, it is important to understand that whilst the protection and control over the majority of society appears to be working positively, the system has to also meet the need and demands of minority groups within the country.

Criminalisation and Protection of Minorities

As a first world country, Canada is home to many cultures and minority groups who have sought asylum or have emigrated for a new life and greater career prospects (Chui, 2013; Li, 2000). Research has shown that these settlers were not and still are not well received by the entirety of Canada’s dominant population (Chui, 2013). As such, certain groups of people that do not necessarily fit into the stereotypical appearance or display behavioural characteristics of the dominant ethnicity, have been looked down on by society and are over-represented in crime rates and arrests by the CCJS (Department of Justice, 2004; White and Cunneen, 2006; Count the Cost, n.d). Only two years ago, in 2013, the Department of Justice Canada (2013) released a statement highlighting that over the past 10 years the population growth in Canadian prisons was vastly fuelled by an alarming increase in these visible minority groups. Aboriginal incarcerations rose by 46.4% and there was an increase of 75% in the Black, Asian and Hispanic ethnic minority group (Department of Justice, 2013). Due to this rise, minorities as a whole hold 18% population within the sentenced prisoner community (Officer of the Correctional Investigator, 2013).

Although the figures of minority groups within the CCJS appear unjust, Satzewich (2004) argues that there have been relatively few cases where discriminatory practice and unnecessary action has taken place. This argument is strengthened when the country’s prison statistics are compared to the UK. In the UK, Black Minority Ethnic (BME) offenders alone take up 26% of their prison statistics, which is significant when the overall BME population only holds 11% of the general population in the country (National Offender Management Service (NOMS), 2012). The NOMS (2012) report also showed that the UK had higher rates of complaints from these visible minority groups than the white population of their prisons (see Appendix A). Consequently, despite the slightly negative statistics, the Canadian attitude towards visible minorities has been shown to be much more advanced and focal on human rights, equality and diversity. Nevertheless, it is vital that Canada inputs better diversity measures within their evolving justice system now in order to avoid higher levels of minority inmate complaints and perceptions of inequality in representation within their systems.


Whilst the case study has shown many positive aspects of the CCJS and Canada’s governmental structure, it is evident that there is still room for improvement. Though the country has been influenced by many cultures and theorists since its founding, Canada has developed a unique and successful understanding on controlling crime and criminality inside and outside the country borders. The research conducted for this case study has shown that Canada appears to have developed functional social control over its population through a healthy relationship between the CCJS and public.

Whilst there are some signs of inequality within the CCJS, compared to other countries, it has not been detrimental to the country’s ranking of equality within the world and Canada remains a central player within GPT; especially with RJ within correctional facilities. It is recommended that the Canadian government conduct further research into the effectiveness, efficiency and reliability of the Police to ensure that the agency is being run in the most positive way possible in order to meet the majority of society’s needs. Furthermore, it is vital to ensure more work is implemented to reduce the over-representation of visible minorities in their prisons. With these recommendations in place, Canada will continue to further develop their role as leaders in criminal justice procedure and governmental organisation.

Appendix A

Table A1: Number of Complaints per 100 prisoners based on ethnicity and gender (follow link)

Source: NOMS, 2012



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[1]“The misogynous killing of women by men” (Elakkary et al.,2014:78). Feminist phrase that became more known by Radford, J. and Russell, D.. E. H. (1992). Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing. New York: Twayne Publishers.

The Student Journal of Criminology Volume 2 No.1

The Criminology world has changed drastically over the past few decades, with new divisions of criminology, new areas to look in to developing, and more students’ year on year are exposed to the discipline. Where does this leave the discipline moving in to the future?
There has been some amazing developments within the academic world that has revolutionised the landscape of practise, better understanding of what is best practise, multi-agency working and its virtues, and a better understanding of offenders as victims themselves. Further to this, developments that has given rise to understanding on how disabilities effects practitioners and service users. To some outside of this world, these may seem like pointless and needless instructions within the academic world, why are you looking at that and not developing a criminal justice system that is more effective in capturing and detaining criminals, why are we not prosecuting more individuals, and why are there to many people getting soft sentences.
In a world of ever-increasing population, what should be happening with criminals is something that is on all criminologists minds. With the cost of catching prosecuting and then detaining an individual ever increasing, newer and cheaper alternatives, always being investigated. Furthermore, these new techniques need to be able to have a dramatic effect on rehabilitation and reoffending rates.
It was Jean-Jacques Rousseau (the social contract) that stated – “In truth, laws are always useful to those with possessions and harmful to those who have nothing; from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all possess something and none has too much.”. That is to say, if everyone had social capitol, they would have more of a stake in upholding laws and morals of the land in which they inhabit. This is no news to many sociologists and criminologist, who have wrote widely on this subject. However, governments have been slow on the uptake of this. Urban regenerative projects have seeked to develop on this, but has only really had an impact within the last 20 to 30 years. Many areas within the UK (and across the globe) have noticed massive projects that have seen dramatic changes to the local landscape, and the use of, thanks to research and development, the implementation of anti-crime techniques. CCTV, buildings that are developed to enable the local community to have a better view of what is going on in their setting, roads, and street lighting changing to adapt to the ever-increasing mobility of the masses, and with it the increase of vehicle related crime. So why is it then that crime is still a part of society, and also why is it that reoffending doesn’t seem to be taking much of a hit?
These are the questions that need to be answered, but also, will probably always need to be answered no matter which epoch we live within! So with this enjoy this edition of the student journal of criminology, and watch out for the names of the authors in the future, for they could be the next big thing within criminology, the next Cohen’s, Marx, Bentham, Lombroso, or Durkheim.

Stephen Carty BA(Hons) Editor and Founder
De Montfort University

Critically evaluate the theoretical underpinnings of offender profiling using the material covered in the 3 theory lectures.
By lizzie gittens
The inclusive term of offender profiling can be underpinned through two distinctive theoretical standpoints; Behavioural consistency and the homology assumption. Various psychological explanations of crime such as Biological, Cognitive, Social, Developmental, Personality and Pathological theories are all highly important and can all impact the applicability and usefulness of offender profiling as an investigative tool. However, this essay will firstly aim to explain what offender profiling, behavioural consistency and homology is. Following on from this, the influence in which specifically the personality, psychosocial and developmental theories have upon the reliability of profiling will be evaluated based upon its theoretical underpinnings, which define the extent to which offender behaviour is predictable.
David Crighton (2010) defines offender profiling as ‘the process of observations, reflection and construction using available data to predict the likely characteristics of an offender’ .These characteristics form ‘patterns or factors of uniqueness that distinguish individuals from the general population’(Devery,C. 2012). Thus as Petherick (2009) states, the foremost role of profiling is to identify the ‘major behavioural and personality characteristics of an offender in order to narrow the suspect pool’. Demographic variables such as age, ethnicity and marital status can be identified from behavioural analysis along with an offender’s criminal history, possible motivations for the crime such as sexual gratification and also insight into an offender’s area of residence within a certain radial perimeter, which can be obtained through geographical profiling. Profiling acts as an investigative tool and is commonly diverse between agencies. For example the FBI adopt a specific approach of ‘Criminal investigative analysis’ in which Hazelwood and Douglas’s core profiling approach of typology, identifies between organised and disorganised criminal types. The organised criminal is an ‘methodical and cunning individual, as demonstrated in the perpetration of his crime’ (Devery, C. 2012), however a disorganised offender ‘exhibits primary characteristics of societal aversion’ (Devery,C. 2012). Despite this, the usefulness of typology and offender profiling as an applicable tool is vastly scrutinized and is a widely debated subject within the Criminal investigative system as there is questionably a ‘lack of any attempt to prove the systems reliability and validity in a scientific manner therefore it may have little real value’ (Ainsworth,P.2001).
In order apply and evaluate the psychological explanations of crime in relation to the theoretical underpinnings, we firstly need to elucidate what these underpinnings outlining criminal profiling are. Behaviour Consistency is ‘the stable and enduring pattern of criminal behaviour’ ( Towl,G.2010). Furthermore, behavioural constancy can be acknowledged as having two types. The first being interpersonal coherence, in which the offender shows consistency between their criminal and non-criminal life. The second form states how an offender shows ‘consistency/ similarity in their criminal behaviour across their series of crimes’ (Petherick, W.2009). Canter (2000) refers to this in his hierarchy for the differentiation of offenders in which behavioural patterns from an offender, forms their ‘Modus operandi’ and thus their personal criminal signature. In addition to this, the homology assumption adds to offender profiling theories in stating ‘all offenders committing offenses in the same way must share the same background characteristics’ (Alasdair, M.2007), as such homology assumes that the ‘more similar two offenders are, the higher resemblance in their crime will be’ (Petherick, W.2009). Thus, the characteristics identified in previous offenders can be applied to predicting the behaviour of current offenders.
Various explanations of crime can support these two theoretical underpinnings which define offender profiling, however to a certain extent can also refute the applicability of these theories and therefore profiling as an investigative tool. For instance, personality theories of crime state that crime is a consequence of our underlying personality traits and the rationale we attribute to our decision making. Eysenck’s 3 factor model of personality postulates that ‘high Extraversion, Neuroticism and Psychoticism are likely to cause delinquency and criminal activities’ (Levine, S, 2004).For example associated traits of extraversion implicate risk taking, impulsiveness, and sensation seeking behaviour (Eysenck, H.J. 1970). The degree to which Eysenck’s personality model can be applied to the theoretical underpinnings of offender profiling can be contested; to a point the three delinquent factors identified can be used to display an offender’s personality and thus their behavioural choices both in their non-criminal and criminal life. Therefore, this shows support for the theory of behavioural consistency as these stable and enduring psychological traits are consistent and unchangeable; this consequently allows patterns to be identified from a crime scene which may predict the offenders characteristics based on the extent to which the offender shows each of the personality traits on the dimensions for instance, Canter (2004) adds that it is the ‘rare, discriminating features that may provide a productive basis for distinguishing between offences and offenders.’ Subsequently, the homology assumption has feeble support within this theory due to the subjectivity of measuring psychological traits, it lacks validity in being able to predict how an current offender will act based on a past offender showing similarities as it lacks the ability to identify how dominant each of the traits are within both individuals, arguably this shows profiling to lack reliability, primarily because the ‘material available is not collected under the careful controls of the laboratory. It is therefore often incomplete, ambiguous and unreliable’ (Canter, D. 2000). Saying this however, if comparisons between two offenders and their crimes are so similar, would it not be reasonable to assume that the personalities of these two offenders might also mirror each other? But then again is this not oversimplifying often unpredictable and complicated behaviour?
The theoretical underpinnings of offender profiling can also be interpreted through psychosocial theories of crime. Social theories state delinquency is a combination of an ‘individuals social learning experiences’ (Ainsworth,P.2001) and also a consequence of the ‘breakdown of institutional, community based controls’ (Shoemaker,D.2009). Expanding upon this, Sutherland utilised the theory of Differential Association declaring that ‘deviance is the result of socialisation and learning values of a subculture that supports attitudes and behaviours that the mainstream culture rejects’ (Zembroski, D. 2011). Hence, the individual internalises and learns specific deviant values associated within the group/environment they are in contact with. Critically, the theoretical underpinnings of offender profiling in relation to Psychosocial theories are sustained by which the set of values a subculture adheres to allows for similarities between two offenders to be expected as they have both internalised and learnt the same techniques and values within that culture, thus strengthens the homology assumption. Despite this, homology in this case could arguably be seen to not be useful in expanding outside and making comparisons between two offenders from two different cultures due to different sub-groups adopting various criminal techniques and values. Furthermore, as David Canter (2000) argues, there will be ‘relatively few aspects of offending, if any, that are unique to one given offender’ in spite of this supporting the homology assumption in which subcultures may adopt similar criminal aspects and so making it easier to relate two offenders with similar characteristics, it however proposes that a subset of characteristics defining one criminal in a deviant group may overlap with the subset of another. For this reason, behavioural consistency’s ‘purpose of offender profiling, namely the linking of potentially related crimes’ (Crabbe, A. 2008) is problematic due to the salient features of an offence matching the behavioural facets of multiple offenders ,thus establishing whether it is the same offender may prove difficult and down to the profilers discretion. Irrefutably the criminal subcultures that operate can aid in profiling using the homology assumption if values are consistent throughout subcultures enabling comparisons between individuals to be made. However, when it comes to identifying consistent patterns linking to a particular offender, psychosocial theories of crime can weaken behavioural consistency’s underpinning of profiling, in which individuals from a subculture are likely to all exhibit and be characterised by the same factors.
A further approach underlying the practicality of the theoretical underpinnings of offender profiling is the Developmental theory. Developmental theories are concerned with the understanding of ‘individual changes in criminal behaviour throughout the life span, especially the ways in which risk factors and life events interact with one another to influence the onset, continuation, and desistance of crime’ (Zembroski,D. 2011). Moffitt hypothesised two types which recognise the development of delinquency throughout childhood into early adolescence. Firstly, adolescent-limited offenders are said to only engage in antisocial behaviours as a social group phenomenon (White, H. Bates, M. and Buyske, S. 2001). Contrasting this however, the life course persistent offender exhibit a greater frequency of offending and commit more serious acts of delinquency consistently throughout their life (Barnes, J & Beaver, K. 2011). Arguably, the life course persistent typology of offenders can be applied to the underpinnings of profiling predominantly that of behavioural consistency, for the reason that the set of interlaying risk factors distinguishing this offender type such as neuropsychological deficits, adverse environments and often impulsive and aggressive temperaments can be used to recognise and predict an offender’s offences throughout their life. The extent to which the offender shows these risk factors can also be applied to forming behavioural profiles of offenders with similar offence patterns, thus supporting the hypothesis of homology by which the way the offender lives on a day to day basis can be exploited to show similarities between a further offender who also has adopted the life course persistent pathway, therefore benefiting profiling as a successful predictor of behaviour. Irrefutably, the large scope in which these risk factors emerge is so broad and diverse it displays disadvantages for the applicability of profiling. The ‘profilability’ of offenders is dependent upon the complex interactions between crime scene factors, situational variance and limited behavioural consistency across offending, as such it is inevitable that cases will vary in the extent to which they can be accurately profiled (Goodwill, A. 2007). For instance, to be able to identify if an offender can be predicted based on a past offender, the same risk factors of the offender such as whether they live in poverty, their association with deviant networks, their education and the stability of their family, all have to be constant in order to base a profile. Furthermore, the typology of adolescent offenders would also be inappropriate to apply to behavioural profiling due to the unpredictability and impulsiveness of offences, as the majority of these offenders commit crime due to their frustration with the ‘maturity gap’. Goodwill (2007) additionally implicates how ‘situational determinants of an offense can also cause significant variation in how an offender commits his offenses’, and so implies how situational variables the individual is exposed to may even modify what is believed to be their normative behaviour, arguably this type of offender scrutinises the ability of profiling to predict an individual’s behaviour as their behaviour is so inconsistent and variant dependent upon situations. As a result of this, the theoretical underpinning of behavioural consistency is to an extent invalid.
Conclusively, for profiling to be considered a reliable and valued tool in investigative methods it must ‘refer to the process of using all available information about a crime, a crime scene and a victim in order to compose a profile of the unknown offender’ (Ainsworth, P. 2001), profiling utilises the two theoretical underpinnings in order to accomplish this. However behavioural consistency and the homology assumption can lack credibility in that according to Psychosocial, Developmental and Personality theories of crime, it is often indeterminate in relating an individual’s series of offences and predicting future behaviour based on similar past offenders due the unpredictability and complexity of human behaviour in which many complex factors intertwine. Profiling in this case lacks effective support in that it simplifies and categorises offenders into typologies, as a result this weakens the homology assumption as Canter (2004) argues, for typologies to have utility there needs to be a ‘clear set of criteria in place to determine how an individual is to be categorised’. As for the strength of behavioural consistency in defining profiling, to a certain magnitude the often diverse interacting factors, such as within levels of psychoticism, internalisation of subculture norms or the vast life determinates individuals are exposed to, can make predicting a series of offences by one particular offender more easily identifiable due to the specificity of the offender’s characteristics, this accordingly adds value to profiling by the implications it devises for detecting patterns within individual offenders. Undoubtedly, there are limitations within the two theoretical underpinnings and profiling as a whole, primarily within the assumption and oversimplifying of offenders through homology, however profiling does have strengths within recognising offenders based on identifying how that offender is determined through a vast range of characteristics, thus supporting behavioural consistency. As such, profiling should not be ruled out as an effective investigative tool but caution needs to be taken when making assumptions and predicting human behaviour.

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In what ways, if any, does green criminology re-orientate the study of violations of criminal laws, ethics and crime?
By Alexander Vaughan University of the West of England

According to Potter (2012) green criminology existence can be summarized as humans interactions with the environment that can be damaging, and therefore worthy of being condoled as a crime. Within criminology South (1998) argues that traditional criminology needs to be aware of the threats to the environment and widen its perspectives to accommodate these threats- However has this been the case? The intention of this piece is to assess if green criminology has re-orientated the study of violations of criminal law, ethics and crime. Furthermore, the essay will acknowledge the impact of green criminology on the regulation of green crimes. Firstly, however the essay will examine what is green criminology, the influence of globalisation and modernity to green criminology and the relationship the perspective has with the social harm theory.
Green criminology was first coined by Lynch (1990) and emerged out of a new shift in politics and growth of capitalism and globalisation. Within capitalism and globalisation emerges consumerism, with Vandenbergh (2004) and Ferrell (2013) arguing that this impact of consumerism has created a demand for resources which are a fundamentally damaging towards the environmental. Furthermore, Ferrell (2013) argues that capitalism has influenced a culture of consumption that has led to a notion of immediate gratification towards luxury goods such as: gold and diamonds. However, the method used for gold extraction and diamonds have led to certain less developed countries to have their minerals preserved by armed conflict – hence the expression ‘conflict minerals’- causing human and environmental harm (Clark, 2013). Additionally with globalisation comes the arrival of technology, with Clark (2013) stressing how gadgets and mobile phones have enforced the need and effects of ‘conflict minerals’. Moreover, Vandenbergh (2004) believes the influx of automobile use has also had an effect on modern society’s neglect for the environment.
The impact of globalisation, consumption and capitalism seem to be an important factor when explaining growing concerns to the environment. These growing concerns can also link to criminality, as it raises issues around the idea that environmental harm can be considered a crime; if this is the case then who are the victims and offenders of these crime (if any) and is there not enough or too much legislation regarding environmental harm (Clifford and Edwards, 2012). This therefore has led to a discourse within criminology, and opened a new perspective of criminology that focuses on environmental harm and the idea of environmental/green crimes- green criminology. However, before discussing what green criminology is, it important to acknowledge the distinct difference between environmental harms and green crime. Environmental harm is defined as factors that impact the environment that is a result of human activity, whereas green crime impact to the environment by human activity that is regulated or legislated as a crime. However, the problematic issue is what can be defined as harm and what can be defined as crime (discussed later in the essay).
In regards to criminological history, green criminology remains a relatively new form of criminology arising from critical criminology. Green criminology utilises science, art and culture-orientated or science-rooted approaches, as well as drawing on criminological traditions of policing, punishment and crime prevention to consider how best to respond to environmental harm (Bisman and South (2012); White (2010); Ruggiero and South (2010) and Beirne and South (2007)). Furthermore Bisman and South (2012) identify the themes and problems that fall into the school of green criminology including: pollution regulation; health and safety breach which can be damaging to the environment; criminal organization and official corruption of illegal toxic disposals; and anything that has hazardous impacts on landscape, air, water and living organisms. Additionally there is a focus on law and regulation around environmental harms by investigating the best practices of monitoring, enforcement and education regarding environmental protection (White,2009). In regards to defining and analysing green crimes, Carrabine et al (2009) categorizes green crimes into two classifications: primary and secondary. Primary actions are those damaging directly to the environment and species (e.g. deforestation.) Whereas, secondary green crime are those that arise from breaking the rules designed to prevent environmental harm (e.g. incorrectly disposing toxic waste). In regards to its influence on re-orienting the study of violations of criminal laws, crime and ethics, Ruggiero and South (2013) argue that green criminology does not necessarily set out a particular theory but offers a perspective which can inform theoretical and empirical study for criminologists, towards primary and secondary harms, offences and crimes that have a damaging effect on the environment.
Within the green criminology perspective a key feature is the issue of harm within environment, therefore there is a relationship between green criminology and Hillyard and Tombs (2008) concept of social harm. Green criminologists, shift away from an anthropocentric approach which focuses on an ideology that humans have the right to dominate the environment for their own needs, and therefore valuing nature due to its of materialistic benefits. Instead, particular green criminologists adopt an ecocentric approach, viewing the environment as an interdependent, and valve for it nature state (Gagnon Thompson and Barton ,1994). In regards to criminality Gibbs et al (2009) argues that applying Hillyard and Tombs’ social harm approach is a beneficially way to analyse environment harm to determine if it should be considered a crime. This includes harms such as: environmental pollution and climate change.
Further comparisons between green criminology and the social harm approach is that both approaches draw frameworks form critical criminology; for example a mutual critique of capitalism, with Stretsky et al (2014) suggesting how both harm perspectives are shaped by scientific knowledge and understanding of ecological harm, as opposed to being a socially constructed idea formed by the state. Lynch et al (2013) additionally argue that the main difference between traditional criminology and green criminology is traditional criminology focus on the individual, their character and relationships as the outstanding features of crime. As oppose to green criminology’s focus on structural forces: such as capitalism and the mechanisms of modernity and globalisation. Green criminology goal appears is to have the study of crime, law-making and ethics to shift to adopt a harm perspective.
However there are problematic features within green criminology, for example Gibbs et al (2009) believes that green criminology emphasise the importance of power relations in society, blaming economic power as a primary cause of environments crime. Furthermore, arguing that traditional criminology ignores the impact of capitalism within environmental crime (however) white-collar crime does acknowledge this relationship). Although green criminology disregards the compliance by corporations with environmental regulation and laws, and the growth of corporates investing in new ‘green’ technology (Gibbs et al). Furthermore, a critique that lies within green criminology is the response green criminologists want from traditional criminology towards green crime. Emerging from a critical criminology perspective, it seems a contradiction for green criminology to want a response from a traditional criminology paradigm, as the underpinning feature of green criminology is the critique of traditional criminology. Therefore green criminology needs to accept traditional criminology, if they want traditional criminology do re-orientate their study towards crime, law-making and ethics.
Another issue within (and for) green criminology relates to lack of regulation around environmental issues; as Gibbs et al (2009) argue what is considered environmental harm and what is considered environmental crime? Clifford and Edwards (2012) argue that five philosophical themes reflect the definition of what can be considered a crime or harm – (1) type of activity (2) the specific act(s) (3) the actors (4) there social status (5) the sanction applied. However this is only one definition of many, therefore a lack of definition has created a difficulty around research and analysis, leading scholars such as White (2003) and Lynch and Stretsky (2007) to suggest that green criminology needs to generate a more suitable relationship between human needs and unpreventable ecological processes. Furthermore, White (2013b) states that one of the problems of the unclear definition means that some acts that are considered environmental harms fall into the dark figure of green crime. In essence Eman et al (2009) argues that a clear definition against the environment is needed.
To look at the influence of green criminology on the study of violations of criminal law, crime and ethics, an area that needs to be addressed is the social constructionist approach within green criminology. Lynch and Stretsky (2003) state that green crime like other forms of crime is a social construction control by power relations and social influence of post-modernity, location, media. Green criminologists therefore want a traditional criminology to acknowledge the importance of harm when defining crime, as according to Lynch and Stretsky (2007) it produces more harm than street crime. Furthermore Lynch and Stretsky (2007) argue that to analysis environment (particularly corporate) criminology must go beyond existing definition of laws that are socially constructed and look at new forms of deviance that is not considered a crime. However it would appear that new laws and literature have been implemented in regards to harm to the environment with new legislation (discussed later), however its arguable that the new legislation still are constructed to benefit power relations.
In regards to green criminology’s impact on influencing the study of crime, Lynch and Stretsky (2003,2007) argue that criminology has been slow in responding to the problems threatening the environment; stating how American criminologists have done a poor job investigating environmentally criminality and that the required reorganization and shift from classical to new forms of criminality has been late- however is criminology the best way to study environmental harm? South (1998) believes that the environmental phenomena would be better fitted with a criminological framework if research took an interest into issues such as: plundering of forests and deliberate incorrect use of spray chemicals and began to adopt multidisciplinary approach to the research. This is supported by Clifford and Edwards (2012) and White (2008) who argue that green criminology should shift away from traditional ways of learning and include an emphasized specialized knowledge by shifting discipline-specific boundaries. In essence, to understand environmental harm criminology needs include various other fields of expertise to understand it. Linking disciplines such as: law, social policy, zoology and criminology can create greater understanding of green harm and can give guidance to the best discipline to study environmental harm.
Another issue within criminology is white collar crime and corporate crime, with Frank and Lynch (1992) arguing one of the goals of green criminology is to analyse how political and economic factors are linked towards corporate violence to the environment. The main study with the study of white-collar crime seems to circulate on a controlled focus around financial, employee fraud and tax evasion. However, within a green criminology framework an issue that would fall in white collar crime are issues around for example corporation food crime. Yates (2007) and South (1998) argue that crimes around food distribution are seen as consumer issues or food scares. Green criminology therefore desires criminology and regulation to widen the view of victimisation to include the environment. Lynch et al (2013) and Lynch and Stretsky (2003) point out that ignoring victimisation of the environment would result in the crime statistics not recording a large portion of green crimes; causing a distorted view of crime. Green criminologists compare the harm of green crimes to ‘street crimes’ that are recorded for statistical purposes for crime such as murder. However, surely ecological destructive behaviour/harm cannot be accurately recorded, due to the lack of definition regarding legislation and inaccurate actors and victims. Lynch et al (2013) point out that the difficulty which the accuracy of crime statistics and environmental crime is the victimisation aspect; with one environment crime potentially harming a large portion of people. For example White, (2004, 2013) points out that dumping of toxic waste and omissions from vehicles are impossible to locate exact or even close figures in regards to human injury.
An ethical issue that presents itself in green criminology is the issue of social inequality; Carrabine et al (2009) acknowledge that there is an inequality between wealth and power. Whereas other academics acknowledge the role of racism and sexism in environmental crime; Zilney et al (2006) acknowledges that corporations institutionalize practises that target communities and societies with an ethnic minority population. Zilney et al (2006) also acknowledges that there is an unequal relationship between ethnic minority cultures and white dominated cultures in regards to protection against toxic waste exposure. From a feminist approach to the environment and green crime comes ecofeminism. Plant (1989) states how ecofeminism concern with the environment is combined with the patriarchy of western society, and capitalism. Furthermore, Mies (1993) and Lynch and Stretsky (2003) suggest that women are more in touch with nature and more concern with the environment survival. However, environment policy making and technology that prevents and cause green crime is controlled by men, with no special procedures designed to protect women against particular forms of environmental harm.
Other ethic issues within green criminology are the treatment of animals and vivisection (experimental purposes on a living organism, typically animals). These issues raise the question into some forms of green harms to be an ethical issue rather than a crime, as some forms of animal cruelty are accepted. For example, White (2013) suggests that society accepts forms of animal cruelty if it is out of society’s sight, such as: slaughter houses, whereas cruelty within zoos is more commonly accepted. However, if one is criminalised, then so should the other. This links back to the problem within green crime regarding definition.
Regulation around green crime emerged on the 1950s with the Clean Air Act UK 1956 (US version 1963), and has since grown from legislation regarding pollution to regulation around marine prevention and climate change (Kyoto Protocol) (Carrabine et al, 2004). Within recent years, green concern (via literature, activists and media) has influenced more regulation by the state (particularly within New Labour’s government) and forced companies to comply to these laws; creating a beneficial system you all involved (Newman (2001) Fairclough (2000)). However, Huss et al (2011) and Lynch and Stretsky (2003) believe that the legislation is not sufficient with much focus going towards home security and economic development. Furthermore, White (2003) suggests from a neo-liberalism approach the regulation enforced is associated with social inequality (previously discussed) and the repression of marginalized groups. Similarly, Lynch and Stretsky (2007) argue that criminology fails to take corporate and environmental harm seriously; therefore ignoring the relationship between environmental harm, power structures and environmental regulation; whereas green criminology pushes to consider environmentally destructive behaviour as a crime. However, white-collar crime does include the way corporations can harm the environment, therefore not all areas of criminology fails.
Within green criminology questions can arise around the influence and the necessity of the discipline. Lynch and Stretsky (2003) and Carrabine et al (2009) argue that green criminology is needed to awaken and remind criminology to the types of environmental harms and the conflicts that occur through defining environmental deviance (for example activists Vs the government bodies). In essence, they suggest that a range of potential crimes (eg pollution) are neglected and therefore creates a distorted picture of contemporary crime. Lynch and Stretsky (2003,2007) also state that many existing criminological views are capable of addressing environmental harms and crimes (such as white-collar crime), but they do not acknowledge the discussion of environmental crimes and laws and the importance of harm. Additionally, Eman et al (2009) suggest that green crime could fall under the perspective of white-collar crime due to previous academics placing green crime there (such as Reid (2004)) and the similar tendencies it has to business criminality: high damages and high victims that do not represent a sizeable amount of harm on an individual level. However, Eman et al (2009) and Eman and Mesko (2013) do believe that green criminology is a key science that provides/attempts to answer key criminological questions.
In regards to the influence of green criminology, Lynch and Stretsky (2013) believe that it offers a unique perspective towards law making and crime. They suggest this by stating how traditional criminology views law-making in regards to crime control, effectiveness and efficiency. Whereas, green criminology offers an additional feature when viewing policy making; by not only focusing on the importance of crime control, effectiveness and efficiency, but the effects these factors can have on the environment. For example, traditional criminology’s focus regarding policing is to improve crime control functions, whereas green criminology widens this view to controlling crime; by additionally introducing strategies that reduce the environmentally impact of policing, such as eco-friendly police vehicles. Lynch and Stretsky (2013) additionally believe that green criminology is beginning to impact on traditional criminology; by offering an alternative paradigm and endeavours to make criminology environmentally. – However they offer limited examples in their literature. In contrast, Eman et al believe there has been a lack of impact from green criminology due to a lack of research because of blurred definitions regarding what environmental crime is. Conversely, Lynch (2013) does believe that the interest of green research has increased (although still a marginalized are of research).
To improve green criminology Eman and Mesko (2013) argue that it needs to utilise traditional notions of criminality like the role of society. However, Lynch (2013) states that when he has used radical literature such as: class struggle and racial inequality, the influence of green criminology continued to have little impact on the study of criminology. In regards to the development of green criminology, Eman and Mesko (2013) suggest that green criminology has developed particularly in three directions: radical-critical, sociological-theoretical and sociological-philosophical. Furthermore, when looking at the frameworks to emerge from green criminology, such as the introduction of conservation criminology (Gibbs et al, 2009) and eco-global criminology (White, 2009) and the increased research. It could be suggested that green criminology could emerge from a theory and perspective with theoretical roots embedded within radical criminological schools of thought (such as Marxism and social constructionism) to a new criminological school of thought focused on the environment.
Through globalisation green criminology has emerged with an ideology regarding the idea that environmental harm can be considered a crime. However green criminology is not without its problems, particularly regarding definitions of what can be considered a green crime and what is considered environment harm -which many academics believe to be a defining factor in why green criminology has had little influence towards reorienting the study of the violations of criminal law, ethics and crime. Additionally questions emerge regarding the notion that perhaps criminology is the not the best way to tackle environmental harm. This has led academics to suggest that green criminology should adopt a multidisciplinary approach to the research such as: zoology to provide guidance in study environmental harm/green ‘crimes’. Moreover, issues such as social inequality and animal treatment raise the issue that some forms of environmental harm are not necessarily crimes, but ethical issues- linking back to the problems regarding a lack of definition.
Within green criminology, the influence has been slow and gradually, however Lynch and Stretsky (2013) believe it does offer criminology a paradigm that endeavours to make criminology environmentally, yet they give limited examples of this. Furthermore, a lack of research (even though growing) and interest by scholars is still a problem- which has limited the influence towards the study of criminology. Additionally, ideas that could benefit the impact of green criminology have also had little influence such as including the role of society to its framework. This can lead to further questions into whether green criminology is necessary as it could fall into other existing perspective, such as white collar crime; although these perspectives lack the importance of harm. However, areas of green criminology has developed and research is increasing in the field, suggesting that green criminology is capable of becoming importance reorienting the study of crime, ethics, and criminal law.

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1 – Choose one or more examples of a true crime story covered in the media (e.g. book, newspaper, magazine, online source, etc) and compare and contrast the explanations given with the relevant criminological literature on the topic.

Eloise Mears – University of Hull

This essay aims to explore child homicide and the representation of cases of this in the media contrasted with relevant criminological literature which offers explanations of this type of crime. The key true crime story covered in the media to be discussed and compared to criminological explanations will be the case of the Soham murders in 2002. Criminological theories and explanations of this type of crime will also be included and compared with the explanations given in the media coverage within this area. A key area this essay will consider is the likely perpetrators of such a crime, both media and academic explanations too. While the obvious main focus will be on children as victims of homicide, an important area of this essay will be on children as offenders of the homicide of other children. The notorious media example to be looked at in this area will be that of the killing of James Bulger. A further aim of this essay is to examine why this type of crime gains so much publicity in the media, and if what is portrayed in the media is an accurate reflection of the reality of child homicide. Child homicide is an interesting area of crime and the topic murder specifically. Many criminologists may be afraid to write about this subject in fear of coming across as desensitising it, however, aside from these concerns it is imperative that is continually researched in order to gain an enhanced understanding within criminology and to understand how it is perceived and explained from sources outside of this discipline, which will be drawn largely from the media in this essay.

In order to analyse child homicide effectively, a clear definition must be drawn. Homicide is the term used to describe the “killing of another human being” (Monaghan, 2012). This does not necessarily solely mean murder. While murder is a specific type of homicide, unlawful and lawful (where a relevant defence is present) manslaughter as well as infanticide also fall under the category of homicide. Using the definition by Monaghan (2012), murder is the most serious form of homicide and requires an intention to kill or cause Grievous Bodily Harm, under the case authority of DPP v Smith [1961] AC 290. The offence of Infanticide will also form an important part of this essay. Under the Infanticide Act 1938, the offence of infanticide is a situation in which a mother causes the death of her child, through an unlawful act or failure to act (omission) whereby she suffered mental impairment from not fully recovering from childbirth of the effects of it. Using these definitions it makes it easier to understand which specific offence has been committed in cases of child homicide.

The first true crime story to be discussed is the Soham murders in August 2002. Possibly one of the most high profile cases of child homicide in the UK, the Soham murders involved two young girls – Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman – age ten, murdered by their school caretaker, Ian Huntley. The facts as we know them are that the two girls walked past Huntley’s house after leaving a family barbeque and were lured in after being told Maxine Carr – Huntley’s girlfriend and the girls’ teaching assistant – was inside the house. In fact she was visiting family in Grimsby and the two girls were murdered shortly after entering the house.

In the ten days between the girls going missing and their bodies being found, and in the run up to the trial of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr, the case received a huge amount of media coverage; Greer and McLaughlin (2010:24) go as far to say the story “received disproportionately high levels of news media attention”. The initial, obvious statement to make would be that this was because the victims of the Soham murders were children. Many academics, including Greer (2007) believe that crimes against children receive disproportionately high levels of news coverage. Greer (2007:22) considers the idea of an “ideal victim status” suggesting that “elderly women and young children…are typical ‘ideal victims’”. Adding to this, “ideal victims” were also more likely to be from middle class backgrounds, not to have had any prior involvement in crime and were more likely to be female. This is a clear explanation as to why the Soham murders received so much coverage; the public perceive children as ideal victims, and are more sympathetic to this group as victims of crime.

While this explains why child murder as a whole receives so much coverage, it doesn’t highlight why the Soham murders specifically received such a disproportionate level of coverage when compared to other instances of child murder. Evidence from Fracassini (2002) (cited in Greer, 2007) states that in the first fortnight after Holly and Jessica went missing, there were nearly 900 articles in the national press. When considering that the murder of fourteen year old Hannah Williams received “just over 60 articles in the British national press, mostly after she was found” (Greer, 2007:23), it is clear there is a huge disparity in press reporting of even similar types of crimes. Hannah came from a working class background, a single parent family and had also run away previous to this occasion of her going missing, which led to her murder. Greer (2007:23) applies this “ideal victim” theory to the Soham murders and explains that this case received far more coverage than the disappearance of two boys, Patrick Warren and David Spencer in 1996. It is thought that the two boys had been caught shop lifting, were from a working class background and had been in trouble at school, contrasted with Holly and Jessica who both came from middle class background and had an “exemplary school record”. This supports the ideal victim theory and is useful in explaining why the media were so interested in the Soham murders. This is an apparent problem within today’s media.

Many media articles are also in line with this theory. An article by Bright (2002) controversially states “There are certain rules in the missing persons game. Don’t be a boy, don’t be working class, don’t be black. As for persistent runaways, children in care or teenagers with drugs problems, forget it.” This is reflected by Greer (2007) in his academic workings and implies that those from within the media are aware of the selectivity of crime reporting. It would be also be naive to believe that the British press are not aware of what sells news, and what the public are interested in reading. There is of course a level of bias that might be expected when evaluating stories from the media, as they are not written by those with an academic or specialist background in the field. However, should the business of certain newspapers be put before justice for all victims of crime? It should also be noted that academic literature is also lacking information about Hannah Williams as well as media articles: a simple google scholar search provides the information that there is a just single article on the first page of results. Contrasted with a search of the Soham murders, which brings up a number of results, it is more evidence of huge disparity. The area of the reporting of cases of disappearance and child murder brings media perceptions and criminological literature in line with each other; they are synonymous in their explanations that only a certain type of victim will receive adequate attention.

While it is useful to know how interested the press are in this area of crime, it is also key to understand the general attitudes of the press surrounding child murder. In the case of the Soham murders, their outlook on the suspects was clear. Looking at newspaper articles, from broadsheet to tabloid, Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr were both branded murderers before their trial had even begun, despite the fact that evidence from the trial showed that Maxine Carr had no role in the actual killing of the two girls. It is clear there is a widely critical approach to the press and their representation of Maxine Carr, Jones and Wardle (2008:67) suggests “the press constructed them as equals”, despite them committing very different crimes. Many of the articles are written in very emotional language (Morris, 2003), this sensationalises a story and the emotive language convinces and confirms the reader of their own feelings towards the subject. An example of the use of emotive language in order to get the British public on board with the media’s claims can be seen in an article by Gerrard (2003), where the words “painstaking”, “heart-rending” and “nightmarish” are used in only one short paragraph to describe the prosecution’s case against Huntley and Carr.

Jones and Wardle (2008) undertook a content analysis which verified the media published images of Maxine Carr more than Ian Huntley. The same article explains that the media articles included a clever use of imagery; they were able to print in pictures what couldn’t be said explicitly by words. By doing this, the press are able to argue that any opinions held by the public are completely subjective and put together as a result of their personal interpretation of the photos. However, delving deeper into the context of these photos published in the press, and the headlines and text they were printed alongside, it is clear that a certain judgement is intended. Carr was likened to Myra Hindley, while not said in explicit terms, photos of Myra Hindley were present in some newspaper spreads, allowing the reader to make the connection between the two.

It is important to question why Maxine Carr received so much media attention to the extent that she has been granted indefinite anonymity, and is one of only three others in the UK to have ever been granted this. The other three individuals are Mary Bell, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, all children who were convicted of hugely high profile child murder cases in British history. It is an interesting debate to consider why it was that Maxine Carr required indefinite anonymity when she was the only one of the four to have not committed a murder (Jones and Wardle, 2008). Maxine Carr spent eighteen months in prison after it was understood she provided Ian Huntley with a false alibi. While her crime was far less serious than that of the other three individuals granted indefinite anonymity in the UK, as well as Ian Huntley’s, the media attacked her. It is important to understand why that is, given the extent of her crime. When considering the media’s attitudes towards her, it is essential to look at the language used in various articles. An article by the Mail Online (2011) – a centre right broadsheet – doesn’t immediately seem to be attacking Carr, however, when the use of language is analysed, the attitudes of the writer become clear. For example, the focus of the article on how protecting her identity is “thought to have cost the taxpayer millions”, instead of a concern for her safety which would not have been unreasonable given that the same article admits she is considered “one of the most reviled women in the country”.

Under the Human Rights Act 1998, Britain has the doctrine of free press (Fenwick and Phillipson, 2006). On the surface, the facility for British people to be informed about current affairs seems to be an important feature of living in a democratic and free society, whereby media regulation is fairly minimal. However, perhaps the sheer amount of media coverage surrounding the Soham murders was detrimental to the case and the basic human right of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr for a right to a fair trial. A key right under the right to a fair trial is the presumption of innocence (Equality and Human Rights Commission) until proven guilty. It must have been difficult for this to have been maintained throughout the trial of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr as it was almost impossible for the jury to retain an objective attitude given the constant media coverage and branding of the two. While the media may only wish to keep the British public informed, this can be done at the expense of one of the key features of a modern democracy, as much literature in this area argues. While these two human rights can work alongside each other, it seems that the media created a complete conflict between the two, making it near impossible for Carr or Huntley to receive a fair trial.

The Soham murders were an example of a child murder and as previously discussed, while this falls under the umbrella of homicide, it does not incorporate all areas of homicide. It is important to also consider the area of Infanticide. A recent example of infanticide in the media is the crime of Natasha Sultan who admitted to killing her baby after not taking her depression medication. An article by Broke (2013) outlines how she decided to stop taking her medication because of the “stigma” attached to the illness. This media article explains that most sentences for infanticide are non custodial and that the offence itself is very rare. However, when considering the ‘dark figure’ of crime, it could be impossible to know how widespread infanticide is in the UK as this crime would include situations whereby mothers kill their babies in the first few days of their lives, before anybody even know they exist. Similarly to murder and other serious and violent crimes in general, when a woman is convicted of infanticide, she is considered psychologically unstable. This is always evident in a conviction of infanticide as it is a key area of the offence, under the Infanticide Act 1938.

In comparing criminological literature with the attitudes of the press, it is central to consider a theoretical analysis of child homicide. Situational theories may be useful in explaining and understanding the area of child murder. Outlined by Downes and Rock (2011), the situational theory is characterised by the opportunities for crime that are available in the perpetrator’s environment. People are more likely to commit crimes where there is the opportunity for them to do so. Thinking about street crime as an example, houses without alarms or with windows open are more likely to be burgled as there is more opportunity for somebody to break in. Relating this to child murder, it could be considered that those with access to children are more likely to commit this type of crime as the opportunity to do so is more readily available. Strengthening this argument is the knowledge that women are equally likely to be the perpetrators of child murder than men (Adler and Polk, 2001). Typically, women are more likely to be alone with a child, and as previously discussed, Infanticide is a crime specifically committed by a mother, rather than a father. Women have greater opportunity to commit this crime, and the statistics reflect this, women are more frequently than men in the situation to commit child murder. Adler and Polk (2001:155) support this, describing many child murders as an “emotional loss of control” in an attempt to stop a child crying. This is a situational factor which could lead to the death of a child; a parent loses control and tries to stop a screaming child crying, but in doing so kills them. Looking at the key example of the Soham murders, this is an interesting theory to apply. Ian Huntley had previously been investigated for claims of eight sexual offences by Humberside police, however, when he applied for the caretaking job in Soham, no records of this were found (Birchard, 2004). If it wasn’t for the failure of Humberside police to provide Cambridgeshire police with this information, Huntley would probably never had got the job at Holly and Jessica’s school, would never have known the two girls and while he may have still committed such a crime, perhaps Holly and Jessica would still be alive today.

An interesting area of child murder is that of juvenile homicide. While this type of crime is even less widespread than child murder, it is another key example of a crime that receives disproportionate levels of media coverage. While the obvious main focus in order to understand this type of crime should be on juvenile homicide, patterns and explanations of youth crime generally will also generate an important input as this can be useful in understanding violent crimes and behaviour of children generally, which in turn could lead to a more in depth understanding of juvenile homicide. The key example to be considered is the killing of James Bulger.

Before considering the key case studies, it needs to be made clear what is meant by the term ‘juvenile homicide’. While the meaning of homicide has already been made clear, it is important to understand what is intended by the term ‘juvenile’. It would be a fair assumption to make that ‘juvenile’ simply means those under the age of eighteen. However, the criminal age of responsibility in England and Wales is ten years old. This means that children as young as ten who commit a crime can be arrested charged and punished under English law. Whilst not dealt with under the formal process of the law, children under the age of ten who break the law can be punished in alternative ways, often this involves involvement of their parents such as the attendance of parenting programmes (, 2013). The following will focus on those children aged between ten and seventeen who have been charged and convicted with a homicide offence.

Described by the BBC (1998) as “one of Britain’s most shocking and memorable crimes of modern times”, it would be accurate to claim that the crime of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson was one of the most high profile crimes of any sort, let alone of crimes by children. A brief overview of events is that in 1993 a 2 year old boy, James Bulger, was taken from a shopping centre in Liverpool by two 10 year old boys, now known as Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. The two boys were tried as adults and convicted of murder after it was found they had beaten the toddler to death.
An example of the media’s explanation of the murder of James Bulger can be seen in an article by the BBC (1998) which suggests that much of the tabloid press believe that Venables and Thompson are evil and should have been “locked up for life” as punishment for their crime. As journalists often lack any criminological background or understanding of punishment, their suggestions regarding how offenders ought to be treated in the criminal justice system often reflects the opinion of an outraged public without considering any academic knowledge. In contrast, criminological literature offers a wider range of explanations for serious anti social behaviour by young people. McKelvey (1988) suggests that reasons such as social detachment from a young age, difficult situations at home and an inability to socialise at school alongside other children are all factors that may contribute to a child committing a homicide. The media are quick to label juvenile offenders of homicide as evil, whereas academic literature offers a more detailed explanation of this.

It is vital to consider the types of perpetrators of child murder. Taking gender as the first variable, it is widely known that men are more likely to commit crime generally than women as well as more likely to be the perpetrators of a homicide (Adler and Polk, 2001). However, child homicide is the single area of homicide where women are more frequently the offenders. Adler and Polk (2001) outline a number of studies across western society whereby perpetrators of child murder are equally proportionate to men, or more so. A staggering figure comes from a study of filicide by Resnick (1969) “in which 67 percent of the offenders were mothers of the victims” (cited in Adler and Polk, 2001:3). Comparing this to the media’s perception of female offenders of homicide generally, Sacco (1995) argues that “both crime statistics and crime news portray offending as a predominantly male activity” and Soothill and Wilson (2005) (cited in Gurian, 2011:18) expands on this suggesting that the media may be more “comfortable” with representing murderers as men rather than women.

This leads on to the accusation that when the media do publish a news story surrounding a woman’s involvement in a murder, they are sexist in their attitudes and gender stereotypes are involved in many article. The reporting of Maxine Carr’s involvement in the Soham murders is a key example of this. In a news article written for the Guardian, Gerrard (2003) claims that Carr lied “because she loved him”, suggesting weakness. Rafter and Stanko (1982) (cited in Gurian, 2011:12) devised six ways in which females are perceived in society as well as in the criminal justice system, one of which is “passive and weak”. In this area, criminological literature appears to suitably explain the perception of female offenders by the media. Supporting this is a study by United States Wilbanks (1982:173), it was found that students were more likely to consider female killers to be deranged than men who had committed equivalent crimes. There is clearly an inherent opinion that women who commit serious crimes must be mentally ill, as this behaviour goes against the perceived gender norms of society; that women are loving and nurturing and have an innate motherly response to children. This viewpoint ought to be upturned and it would be perhaps fairer to ignore accepted, and often dated, gender ‘norms’ when considering offenders. It could present us with a greater understanding if offenders were considered on an individual basis and not grouped together depending on their social behaviours and representations. Men and women should be treated as equals throughout all of society, including within the criminal justice system, so they can be judged on a level playing field. Although it should not be ignored that males and females may have different incentives, triggers and behaviours when it comes to offending.

To conclude, it is fair to form the conclusion that the media are unrepresentative in their reporting of crimes. They also offer inaccurate representations of perpetrators of crimes in order to sensationalise an event and ultimately to sell news to the public. The most alarming thing is that while all these points are widely discussed even by the media themselves sometimes, it continues to occur, and will until tighter restrictions are placed on the press. It is detrimental to the criminal justice process in Britain as it removes an important area of the right to a fair trial, as it is impossible for the jury to form an unbiased opinion and come to a fair decision as regards to the future liberty of those on trial. The selectivity of their reporting process is harmful to criminal justice; all victims of crimes deserve equal coverage in the press and awareness by the public, while simultaneously defendants still deserve an accurate representation in the media. In close, it would be just to argue that the public should continue to be informed freely of the on goings of the criminal justice system, however, not at the expense of criminal justice.

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Broke, C. (2013). Mother suffering post-natal depression killed her baby girl after stopping medication to avoid ‘stigma’ of the condition. The Daily Mail, [online] 11 November. Available at: Last Accessed 11th Dec 2013
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Fracassini, C. (2002) ‘Missing’, Scotland on Sunday, 18 August. Cited in Greer, C. (2007). News Media, Victims and Crime. In: Davies, P. Francis, P. and Greer, C. Victims, Crime and Society. London: Sage. 21-49.
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Drugs and Crime
Qualitative Research Project 2013/14
By Gary Mason University of the West of England


This project attempts to identify how young people view drugs and crime, and furthermore what their opinions are on cannabis use in modern times. It begins by reviewing literature surrounding the area of drugs, which is then used to construct the question ‘do level two criminology students feel that there is any link between drug use and crime, and what are their attitudes to cannabis use in contemporary society?’ The study was carried out in a qualitative manner from an interpretivist standpoint, using semi-structured interviews as a collection method. All collected data from second year criminology students was then analysed using thematic analysis, coded and organised into three common themes. The findings conclude that young people only see a strong link between ‘hard’ drugs and crime, that the justice system fails drug users completely, and that cannabis use has become normalised within society.

Contents Page
Literature Review
Data Analysis
Consent Form
Interview Schedule
Coded Transcript
List of Codes
Common Themes
Ethical Approval Form

Literature Review
In order to create a solid foundation on which to base the research study, a thorough review of the literature must be carried out. This exercise enables the discovery of previous knowledge, exposes areas of debate and trends, and helps to narrow down terminology that may differ across the literature (Robson, 2011). These directly benefit the proposed research study as a broader, more educated perspective can be taken.
Reuter and Stevens’ (2008) work draws attention to the fact crime figures are hugely unreliable, and should be read with caution. Because of this, no true inference can be made to the relationship between drugs and crime. Secondly, they state that the link between drugs and crime may well be inflamed by failing government initiatives such as the attempt to stop its distribution, much like the work of Kleiman and Heusslar (2011) who write that some policies actually lead to more drug use and criminality. It is claimed by The Lancet (2013) that government initiatives to prevent the spread of legal highs have failed, which adds further weight to Reuter and Stevens’ (2008) proposal. Both pieces of literature are enhanced by Shaftoe (2005), who puts forward the argument that prohibition simply does not work. He states that the movement to prohibition only worsened the situation as what was an issue of treatment became an issue of criminal justice; criminalising many unsuspecting people who need help rather than punishment. In conjunction with this, The Lancet (2013) agreed that the criminalisation of drugs only served to harm users rather than treat them. It is debated whether the prohibition of drugs has actually caused more harm than if drugs had been legal throughout history. Kleiman and Heusslar (2011) and Reuter and Stevens (2008) both draw the same conclusion that prison simply does not effectively provide any form of rehabilitation to users. Instead, both parties suggest an individualised treatment approach, tailored to each user requiring them to abstain from drug use. The most appropriate method of dealing with drugs is, according to Shaftoe (2005), to legalise them all. Not only would this decriminalise a huge number of people and therefore avoid the stigma surrounding drugs, but it would also have benefits for the country as a whole. He writes, as do Kleiman and Heusslar (2011), how the taxation of drugs would induce huge revenue for the government which could then be used on treating dependant users in a non-judicial way.
More specifically, Buchanan (2002) writes how drug use has changed over the years. In particular, he writes of cannabis and how its place in society seems to have developed whereas police attitudes towards it have remained unchanged having failed to move with the times. To emphasise the widespread growth of cannabis in society, he points out the huge increase in 11-24 year olds who have been searched and found with the drug in their possession. Buchanan’s argument is that the police remain heavily focused on the gateway theory, insisting that by continuing to penalise cannabis possession they are directly stemming the progression to harder drugs.
All five pieces bring interesting areas into debate, which is why it is important to gauge the opinions of young people. Not only will this show if academic discourse relates to the opinions of future generations, but it may also give some suggestion as to why drugs’ place in society has changed progressively, therefore gaining an insight at ground level which proves invaluable in any research study. For the purpose of this study, the question must be asked ‘do level two criminology students feel that there is any link between drug use and crime, and what are their attitudes to cannabis use in contemporary society?’

• Design
The research project at hand uses the qualitative method to ascertain accurate evidence that is relevant to the proposed question. An emphasis is placed on first-hand accounts that are provided in word format, allowing context and feeling to infiltrate participants’ answers. The epistemology used within the research study is interpretivism, as qualitative research acknowledges that social experiences are constructed on an individual basis meaning each person will view the world differently (Robson, 2011). These varying perspectives on life are what qualitative studies value greatest. Alongside this, the ontology used is constructionalism, as peoples day to day experiences are regarded to gradually combine to give them a unique outlook on matters. Bryman (2012) states that it is of utmost importance that the social world is studied from the perspective of the people being studied, as it allows a more in depth understanding of social phenomena. In regards to interview structure, a semi-structured approach was used. By following this principle, a specific focus area can be targeted whilst also allowing room for adaptation in response to participants’ answers. This fluidity is key to being able to tailor new questions based on the responses given so each personal answer can be explored for additional meaning and context.

• Participants
During the study, five participants were interviewed who were selected from within the second year criminology student group. By interviewing this select, purposive group of people, more educated answers can be ascertained than if a general audience were used. Purposive sampling has its benefits as it enhances the data received and can be also based on academic literature rather than media sensationalism or hear say stories. Not only does specifically interviewing criminology students lead to more consistent answers, but it relates directly to the gap in the literature that fails to gauge young people’s changing attitudes to the topic at hand.

• Procedure
The procedure of any research study must be undertaken with great care to fully gauge detailed answers and guard against ethical infringements. Prior to any formal interview taking place, a pilot interview was carried out with a personal friend. This helped greatly as the schedule and questions could be critiqued from a non-biased standpoint and then allow for a more fluid interview process. All participants were chosen from within the seminar group, details were exchanged and interviews were arranged accordingly within the week 2nd December – 6th December. It was agreed that the interviews would take place in a library booth which would ensure there would be absolutely no interruptions or issues of privacy. The use of a neutral setting can help to put both parties at ease as a seminar room could be seen to be an intimidating place for an interview. In addition to this, the language of the interview was constructed to be friendly and open, therefore easing the amount of nerves the participant may have felt and allowing a free flowing response to be given. Within any interview, the procedure was open to change if it was to the benefit of the research and/or participant. Following five successful interviews, all were transcribed and anonymity was ensured.

• Materials
A key material was the consent form. Without this simple piece, the entire project would be subject to scrutiny as no participant consent had been given. The very base of the research study revolved around conclusions drawn from the literature review, most notably the interview schedule. This vital material provided the foundation for the interview process and without the study would have likely been a mess. By using this schedule, the interviews were possible which were recorded using an iPhone. Its use was agreed by all interviewees, and following the interviews the documents were made anonymous and will be deleted in due course. As above, a pilot interview greatly helped to eliminate flaws in the study as criticisms could be made objectively. Questions were then reworked to ensure that the participant was not lead and also timing was noted. A feature not to discard was that the pilot interview had the potential to reduce nerves that could be present within the first interview, meaning the official interview could be carried out free from worry.
• Ethics
Qualitative research prides itself on its ability to safeguard against unethical data collection, so ethics are highly important. Flick (2009) writes how there will always be ethical issues that arise, but it is important to strive to overcome these. As the study focused on the issue of drugs, great care had to be taken to avoid distress to the participant or allowing them to disclose information they wouldn’t normally be comfortable saying. Therefore each question was worded specifically, every participant could withdraw at any time, and the research study was subject to ethical approval from within the university. Not only this, but prior to any interview taking place, each participant was briefed on the research and asked to read and sign a consent form. The iPhone used to record the interviews was completely confidential and each participant was represented by a number to hide their identity, further reducing the chances of harm. In addition to this, all transcripts will be destroyed in due course.

• Data Analysis
The method of data analysis used was thematic, which “is a method for identifying, analysing, and reporting patterns (themes) within data” (Braun and Clarke, 2006, p.6). This method allows the efficient coding of data which can then be easily worked into relevant themes common across the five interview transcripts. One advantage of thematic analysis is that it is not bound to one theoretical framework meaning its use can be transferred across a multitude of research studies. However a weakness of the method is that it is subject to bias, as the researcher brings with them their own interpretations and this can be reflected within the data analysis (Robson, 2011).

From the data corpus, three main themes emerged; ‘‘hard’ drugs and crime’, ‘a failing justice system’, and ‘normalisation’. Across all five interviews, the idea that certain drugs were more heavily linked to crime than others appeared consistently, most notably the drugs heroin and cocaine. Also, these drugs were linked to specific crimes, as mentioned by interviewee three, that “the cocaine addict might become aggressive and volatile in a situation and create public disorder”. The fact that every participant drew connections between harder drugs and crime, and disregarded softer drugs such as cannabis, shows directly how people are not concerned with the lower end drugs of the classification system. In relation to the reviewed literature, this idea was not present, most likely meaning that the questions asked were not focused enough on the actual links between drugs and crime. In addition to this, the interviewee should have been guided back onto a topic more relevant to the research study. However what was present in the literature was the fact there is some, however casual, link between drugs and crime. As above, the participants agreed with this statement, although only in terms of the higher class drugs.
The idea that prison simply does not rehabilitate, and indeed actually worsens drug use, was prevalent in all interviews. It was argued by the five that there are several alternatives to the current prison system, i.e. rehabilitation centres, however as participant five said “I understand obviously rehab centres cannot house thousands of drug users” therefore additional funding would need to be channelled into these areas for any change to be beneficial to users. The interview responses are fully in agreement with the literature from Kleiman and Heusslar (2011) and Reuter and Stevens (2008), as they argue against traditional punishment for drug users and instead for a treatment based approach. Another aspect of the theme, as stated by interviewee two is that the police are seen to turn a blind eye to small cannabis possession, which is greatly at odds with the literature of Buchanan (2002) who writes that police attitudes towards the drug have not changed. This is precisely what the research sought to uncover; the fact young people’s attitudes to the subject may vary slightly to that of the academic discourse.
Normalisation resonated strongly across four of the five interviews, and particularly concerned how common place cannabis use is in contemporary society. Each of the four participants stated that it has infiltrated all social groups and classes to the point where no one finds it uncommon or a surprise anymore. Participant four proclaimed “it’s more socially acceptable and becoming slowly more acceptable than many other forms of drugs” highlighting the drugs separate position to other illicit drugs. Three of the four noted the health effects being over exaggerated by media scare mongering and instead opted to base their views on first-hand accounts, either personal or through peers. The normalisation of cannabis is a key feature of Buchanan’s (2002) work, which is proven to be accurate within this study. Young people view cannabis as common place within society and accept its negative stigma and health effects as potential scare tactics by the media and the government who strive to contain its use.
In hindsight, the research study has one main weakness; its sample size is simply too small to be applicable to a wider audience. It accurately represents the views of the small community of second year criminology students, but people of a similar age outside this group are neglected. If the study was to be repeated and aimed to represent young people’s views as a whole, a broader sample size would be required which equally distributes interviews across both genders to eliminate any possible gender bias.

Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology.Qualitative Research in Psychology [online]. 3 (2), pp. 77-101. [Accessed 11 November 2013].
Bryman, A. (2012) Social Research Methods. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Buchanan, J. (2002) Policing of cannabis. Probation Journal [online]. 49 (2), p. 164. [Accessed 21 October 2013].
Flick, U.W.E. (2009) An Introduction to Qualitative Research. 4th ed. London: Sage Publications.
Kleiman, M.A.R. and Heusslar, L. (2011) Crime-minimizing drug policy. Journal of Criminal Justice [online]. 39 (3), pp. 286-288. [Accessed 20 October 2013].
Reuter, P. and Stevens, A. (2008) Assessing UK drug policy from a crime control perspective. Criminology and Criminal Justice [online]. 8 (4), pp. 461-476. [Accessed 20 October 2013].
Robson, C. (2011) Real World Research. 3rd ed. Chichester: Wiley.
Shaftoe, H. (2005) Forces of habit – why it is time to reduce the harm of drug prohibition. Drugs and Alcohol Today [online]. 5 (4), pp. 34-37. [Accessed 20 October 2013].
The Lancet, (2013) Legal highs and lows-illicit drug use around the world. The Lancet [online]. 382 (9886), p. 1. [Accessed 21 October 2013].


Consent Form
Dear Participant;

My name is (deleted for anonymity) and I am a second year student studying Criminology at the University of the West of England, Bristol.
My research seeks to explore the possible drug-crime link that we are led to believe exists, and furthermore how young people view cannabis use in the modern climate. I am undertaking this study as I see drugs as a common area of debate of which we all have strong views and standpoints.
The study that you are volunteering to take part in is for my first assessment in my research module. All data will be collected, analysed and reported later in the academic year. The aim of the interview is to explore how young people view drugs in our society, and what its use plays a part on.
Drug use and crime is a broadly discussed area which generates significant emotions within most groups of people. For this reason, the interview shall be undertaken from an objective viewpoint to regulate the sensitivity of the questions asked.
For the interview, you will be asked to give your honest personal opinions on issues relating to drugs and crime. All your responses will be received completely judgment free, so please be as honest as possible.
All responses given will remain totally confidential, and in the transcription phase your name will be altered to a corresponding number to protect your identity. I will be the sole person with access to the data, and the data will be held securely in a place only I have the ability to access.
I must stress that all participants have the right to withdraw from the experiment at any stage they see fit, without having to give any reason for their decision. I will be available before, during and after the interview to answer any questions relating to the material discussed within the interview. If however I am unable to answer any of your questions, I will endeavour to provide contact details of those who can adequately answer them instead.
All responses collected within the interview will be destroyed within due course. If you decide to withdraw at any time throughout, the information given will be destroyed immediately.
It is important that you fully understand all the ethical issues involved in this piece of research and that you take them into account when deciding to participate in this study. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me (deleted for anonymity) and I will be happy to help.

Signed: ………………………………………………. Date: ……………………………………………..

Thank you for reading this and consenting to participate in this research.

(deleted for anonymity)

Interview Schedule
1) How do you understand the relationship between drug use and crime?
2) What is your opinion of the suggestion that drug use causes crime?
– Possible prompts = Violence? Exposure to drug markets?
3) What is your attitude towards the suggestion that criminal behaviour leads to drug use?
4) Do you think that the imprisonment of drug users is an adequate form of rehabilitation in preventing crime? Please give reasons for your answer.
5) How do you see cannabis use in modern society?
– Possible prompts = Accepted? Frowned upon?
6) What impact, in terms of pros and cons, would the legalisation of cannabis have on the UK?
– Possible prompts = Tax? Purity? Amsterdam? More use?
7) What do you understand by the term ‘gateway drug’ and to what extent do you agree/disagree with it?
– Possible prompt = Progression?

Coded Transcript
Transcript + Interviewee 5

I: First of all thank you for participating in this interview. So question one, how do you understand the relationship between drug use and crime?
5: I think there’s a strong link between drug use and crime. Um, probably more at the, the harder drugs, such as the heroin and stuff like that, people think, people need, money to feed their addiction, um, so they’ll go out maybe steal from a shop or steal from a person to get their fix. Um, I think with, cannabis, the softer drugs, there’s not a link at all really. I don’t think that many people on cannabis are that addicted as such and don’t need a fix, so they sort of just use it recreationally and smoke it when they want. I don’t think they really get that, that withdrawal from it. So I think there is a strong link but just maybe more with the harder drugs.
I: Ok, what is your opinion of the suggestion that drug use can cause crime?
5: Yeah I think that’s, that’s very true. Um, you could say the other way around as well but um, I think once you get into that circle it’s quite hard to get out of. I think, so if you’re hooked on heroin like I said, you’ll have to feed your addiction, um, so you’ll need to go out and steal and stuff like that. However, flip it and also say that you get into drugs through crime so if you join a gang, you might have to, you might have to do an initiation where it might be seen as normal to smoke cannabis stuff like that. Um, so yeah like I said it’s quite hard to determine which causes crime or which causes drugs but, in my opinion I’d probably say, drugs cause crime, uh, yeah.
I: Ok, that follows on quite nicely to the third question. What is your attitude to the suggestion that criminal behaviour leads to drug use?
5: Um, say it could do. Like I said if you’re in a gang or if you want to be accepted into a certain group of people then you might have to do what’s normal for them. Um, but I would say that, drugs, um, drugs cause crime uh. Like I said maybe not with… Another class A substance cocaine makes the person aggressive, the individual might become aggressive and say on a night out causes street fights, stuff like that. But um so, heroin would be, uh a heroin addict would need to go out and get a fix whereas, the cocaine addict might become aggressive and volatile in a situation and create public disorder in a fight or something along those lines.
I: Ok then, so do you think the imprisonment of drug users is an adequate form of rehabilitation in preventing crime? Please give reasons.
5: No not at all. I think in prisons, it’s like a breeding ground for criminals. They all get together, and can discuss, ways of, um committing crimes. I think drugs as well in prisons I think that’s quite common place. I think most prisoners can get their hands on drugs if they want so they aren’t really being taken away from, the drugs. Um, like I said I think rehabilitation obviously would be a lot better for the drug user, but it’s not very viable, you can’t rehabilitate everyone, it’s too expensive, um, not everyone wants the treatment, not everyone will consent to the treatment. They might be happy with how they are, and maybe they don’t want the help. Um I don’t think prisons work at all for drug users. Um, like I said they can get the drugs in there easily, they can still smoke cannabis, do the drugs they need. Um, so yeah I think, if anything it makes it worse, it makes the problem worse. And when the individual comes back out and they’ve had no help in, in prison then they’re just going to go back to the life that they knew, and continue how they were before they went inside.
I: Ok so what, like, sort of alternatives do you think there is to prison rehabilitation?
5: Obviously you can have drug rehabilitation courses and stuff like that. Um, I don’t think anything like, community service will help the individual really. They’re still, they’re still a danger to society if they’re outside and they’re not really getting the treatment. They’re just sort of, there to, help, clean up stuff really so… I think, I think rehabilitation is the only way forward but like I said it’s not viable for absolutely everyone. You can’t treat everyone its too expensive and not everyone wants the treatment in the first place.
I: Ok now coming onto the second part of the interview. How do you see cannabis use in modern society?
5: It’s very common place, very widespread, amongst all ages in society, um whether that be the, the young teenager smoking it on the street, or the fifty year old business man who comes home from a stressful day at work and has a spliff. It’s very um, widely accepted, especially in certain cultures such as uh, university, very common place, becoming normalised and people are just accepting it for what it is now. They know the health risks aren’t as great as they’ve been made out to be so, sort of, using it as a, as a substitute I suppose for alcohol sometimes even.
I: Ok then. What impact in terms of pros and cons would the legalisation of cannabis have on the UK?
5: Um obviously pros, um, it would allow the government to make, money, they could tax it and that would help them make a lot of money. Um the price of cannabis would go down then, it’d be cheaper and um, maybe even become a substitute for um cigarettes where cigarettes, are tobacco is the harmful substance and the addictive substance then if it gets replaced by cannabis then health risks might, um, yeah less health risks. Also if the government legalised it, they’d know what was going into, into the cannabis. So the purity levels would be higher, and therefore once again decreasing the health risks and health dangers that society might face. Um however I think negative effects are, passive smoking. You’d affect people around you, if they don’t want to be smoking it but it was legal and you could just smoke it in the street then you sort of, pass it onto other people, and also I think you’d still have to have some sort of laws where like drink driving. Obviously you can’t just legalise everything else people would be driving home stoned and that’d be causing a lot of accidents and deaths possibly.
I: Ok so do you think if it was cheaper like you say, then it would lead to more use?
5: Yeah definitely, I think people, obviously it’s cheaper they’re gunna be, it’s gunna be cheaper for people to access, even younger people, um, with less disposable income. I don’t know, maybe the government could put a, obviously they’d have to put an age bracket on it, otherwise you’d have like ten year olds smoking cannabis at school and stuff like that which isn’t very good obviously.
I: Ok what do you understand by the term gateway drug, and to what extent do you agree or disagree with it?
5: Yeah yeah, a gateway drug is sort of like, it’s an opening for the user, for the um individual, they can experiment with a lower class drug such as cannabis and then um, they enjoy that so they might move on to another drug such as MDMA and they might enjoy that. So it just opens doors for the user, the individual, to um, to use drugs. I think, I totally agree with it I think that’s totally right. I think in anything in life you start off at one end and, progress through a spectrum such as, same as alcohol, you start off drinking the softer alcohol and then you move onto a slightly harder one and then eventually onto vodka. Yeah I think that’s definitely right. I think it’s um, very true that, cannabis is a gateway drug onto other, harder drugs.
I: Ok one final question. Where do you get your information about drugs from?
5: Uh through academic literature, and, um, just through personal experience of friends and through society. Friendship groups and um, people I know. First hand experiences are probably most educational I would say.
I: Ok that’s great, once again thank you for participating in this research study.

Examples of Data Analysis
• List of Codes

1) Link between drugs and crime
2) Link between drugs and crime but on an individual basis
3) Link is stronger in hard drugs
4) Some drugs are more heavily linked to crime than others
5) Drug taking is an expensive habit
6) Cannabis is a soft drug
7) No link between cannabis and crime
8) Cannabis is only used recreationally
9) Link between hard drugs and crime
10) Drug use can cause crime
11) Taking a drug does not make you predetermined to commit a crime
12) Drug taking comes down to personal choice and risk
13) Crime and drugs come as a pair
14) Crime causes drug use is weaker than drug use causes crime
15) Peer pressure
16) Acceptance
17) Drug user label pushes person away from society
18) Crime speeds up the exclusion process
19) Drug use is about rebelling against society
20) Crimes are specific to drug taken
21) Crime depends on individual characteristics and the drug used
22) Prison does not rehabilitate
23) Prison makes crime worse
24) Prison is an expensive failure
25) Drugs are common in prison
26) Crime is more common in prison than in society
27) Rehabilitation would be better but isn’t always wanted
28) Prisoners can still take drugs
29) Prison makes the drug problem worse
30) Prison can actually make people take drugs
31) Prison offers no rehabilitation
32) Prison adds to the gateway theory
33) Prison hides the problem from society
34) Rehabilitation courses are an alternative
35) Community punishment won’t help
36) Rehabilitation isn’t always viable
37) There are better alternatives to prison
38) Alternatives can present problems
39) Counselling/rehabilitation is an alternative
40) Cannabis is common is all areas of society
41) Cannabis is used by a variety of people
42) Cannabis has become normalised and is accepted
43) Cannabis use is tolerated
44) Cannabis use is seen regularly
45) No real risks associated with smoking cannabis
46) Drug classification system is wrong
47) Alcohol should be illegal
48) Health risks have been over exaggerated
49) Cannabis is an alternative to alcohol
50) Police are reluctant to enforce laws around cannabis
51) Bring in tax revenue
52) Price would decrease
53) Become a healthier alternative to tobacco
54) Purity would increase
55) Passive smoking would be a problem
56) Legalisation would not bring any benefits or problems
57) Cannabis would need regulating, not being made completely legal
58) Cheaper drugs would lead to more use
59) Cannabis is used medically
60) Cannabis use is only going to become more common
61) Cannabis is a gateway drug
62) Cannabis is a gateway drug but we have a say on its effect on us
63) Gateway theory depends on the person
64) Drug taking is progressive
65) Information through reading
66) Information from the Internet and Talk to Frank
67) Information from the TV
68) Information from friends
69) Information through first hand experiences

• Common Themes
Synopsis‘Hard’ Drugs and Crime
• Link between drugs and crime but on an individual basis
• Link is stronger in harder drugs
• Some drugs are more heavily linked to crime than others
• Drug taking is an expensive habit
• Cannabis is a soft drug
• No link between cannabis and crime
• Drug user label pushes person away from society
• Crime speeds up the exclusion process
• Crimes are specific to the drug taken
• Crime depends on individual characteristics and the drug used
• Drugs are common in prison
• Crime is more common in prison than in society
• Alcohol should be illegal
• Cheaper drugs would lead to more use
• Cannabis is a gateway drug but we have a say on its effect on us
• Drug taking is progressive

A Failing Justice System

• Prison does not rehabilitate
• Prison makes crime worse
• Prison is an expensive failure
• Drugs are common in prison
• Crime is more common in prison than in society
• Rehabilitation would be better but isn’t always wanted
• Prisoners can still take drugs
• Prison makes the drug problem worse
• Prison can actually make people take drugs
• Prison offers no rehabilitation
• Prison adds to the gateway theory
• Prison hides the problem from society
• Rehabilitation courses are an alternative
• There are better alternatives to prison
• Police are reluctant to enforce the laws around cannabis
• The drug classification system is wrong


• Cannabis is only used recreationally
• Prisoners can still take drugs
• Cannabis is common is all areas of society
• Cannabis is used by a variety of people
• Cannabis has become normalised and accepted
• Cannabis use is tolerated
• Cannabis use is seen regularly
• Health risks have been over exaggerated
• Cannabis is an alternative to alcohol
• Police are reluctant to enforce the laws around cannabis
• Cannabis use is only going to become more common

How do level two criminology students view the link between drug use and crime, and what are their attitudes towards cannabis use in contemporary society.

My questions for the qualitative piece of research shall be:
1) How do you understand the relationship between drug use and crime?
2) Would you say that drug use causes crime, or that criminal behaviour leads to drug use? Please explain.
3) Do you think that imprisonment of drug users is an adequate form of rehabilitation in preventing crime? Please give reasons for your answer.
4) How do you see cannabis use in modern society?
5) What changes, in terms of pros and cons, would the legalisation of cannabis have on the UK?
6) To what extent do you agree or disagree that cannabis is a gateway drug to harder substances?

To help me with the research study, I reviewed five pieces of literature to enable a greater understanding of the subject area:
Buchanan, J. (2002) Policing of cannabis. Probation Journal [online]. 49 (2), p. 164. [Accessed 21 October 2013].
Kleiman, M.A.R. and Heusslar, L. (2011) Crime-minimizing drug policy. Journal of Criminal Justice [online]. 39 (3), pp. 286-288. [Accessed 20 October 2013].
Reuter, P. and Stevens, A. (2008) Assessing UK drug policy from a crime control perspective. Criminology and Criminal Justice [online]. 8 (4), pp. 461-476. [Accessed 20 October 2013].
Shaftoe, H. (2005) Forces of habit – why it is time to reduce the harm of drug prohibition. Drugs and Alcohol Today [online]. 5 (4), pp. 34-37. [Accessed 20 October 2013].
The Lancet, (2013) Legal highs and lows-illicit drug use around the world. The Lancet [online]. 382 (9886), p. 1. [Accessed 21 October 2013].

I chose to base my research study on the drug-crime link and cannabis, as I find the debate on drugs fascinating and feel it is of relevance to modern society. In addition to this, I am studying the Drugs, Crime and Society module as part of my degree, and therefore came to the conclusion my research could benefit on something I am also studying elsewhere by linking the two and reducing my workload. The entire concept of drug use is an area which generates much debate, so basing a piece of research on it would hopefully allow stimulating responses and feedback.

The research will be carried out using the purposive sampling technique. This technique allows for a more targeted focus area, by which I will hope to gather a better educated response than if I had interviewed a more general audience. The participants will all be level two criminology students, who will answer the above six questions over the course of a ten minute confidential interview.

The foremost ethical problem I will encounter is asking people for their views on drugs. Although not specifically asking them about their personal use or experiences, every question still being proposed revolves around the central issue of drugs. To reduce any harm or trauma to the participants, I have designed the questions to be fully open so that the participants’ responses are entirely up to themselves.

Nottingham Trent University
Division of Sociology
BA (Hons) Criminology
3D Printed Firearms: Can we smell the cordite?
Alexander Christopher Goodwin
This Dissertation is submitted in part-fulfilment of the degree of
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Criminology
May 2014

Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Method
Chapter Three: History of Homemade Guns
Chapter Four: Development, Effectiveness and Dissemination of 3D Printed Firearms and Designs
Chapter Five: Current Regulation Systems Regarding Gun Control and Responses to 3D Printed Firearms
Chapter Six: So What?
Chapter Seven: Summary, conclusions and postulations for the future

Over this last year there has been a lot of media attention and controversy about a potential new crime wave of untraceable three dimensional (3D) printed firearms. However, the question remains is this all necessary? This research through a critical review of the current and potential impacts of 3D printed firearms aims to determine the level of concern that is required in relation to 3D printed firearms. An extensive amount of secondary literature has been used to enable the examination of the historical context that 3D printed firearms are placed in and the potential effects of these firearms. Secondary literature was also used for cross cultural analysis to determine the effects in the UK and the USA.
This researcher found that the advent of 3D printed firearms have the potential to radically improve the quality and standardisation of homemade firearms. Development of 3D printable firearm designs based online, have drastically improved in durability, accuracy and reliability since the development of the first 3D printed firearm, the Liberator in May of 2013. The policing of these designs online have also been shown to be problematic. 3D printable firearm designs can be considered in the same manner as the policing of copyright fraud. This research also identified problems with current regulatory systems and with the online policing of 3D printable firearm designs. The current regulation systems in both the UK and the USA have been shown to be in need of substantial reform from the findings of this research. Changes are necessary to fully embrace and deal with the new issues and problems associated with the production of 3D printed firearms and the storage of their designs online.
This research enquiry has predicted that 3D printed firearms will become synonymous with black market weapons, as the cost of 3D printers continue to reduce and increase in use. This research also predicts the potential misuse of 3D scanners in the duplication and dissemination of existing commercial firearms designs.

Firstly, I would like to give special thanks to my dissertation supervisor, Mike Sutton, for his invaluable and often patient guidance throughout the entirety of this dissertation.
I would also like to thank my family and friends for their unwavering support throughout my time at university. In particular, I would like to thank my parents as without their emotional and financial support, university would not have been possible.
Over this last year there has been a lot of media attention and controversy about a potential new crime wave of untraceable three dimensional (3D) printed firearms, with changes in laws in both the UK and USA. However, the question remains is this all necessary? New technology is notoriously difficult to regulate effectively without suffocating such technology or having ineffective regulation. This research will attempt to address the level of concern that is required in relation to 3D printed firearms.
Three dimensional printing builds up objects through the progressive layering of plastic or metal by reference to a 3D design file (Rimmer, 2012). It differs from traditional methods of manufacture which subtract material in order to achieve a certain shape (Ibid). Historically, 3D printers have been very large and expensive, however, new models and manufacturers continually enter the market, meaning that 3D printers are becoming smaller and cheaper to purchase and run. An example of this is the MakerBot Replicator 2 (Ibid). New models of 3D printers are now as inexpensive as $199, and the materials used by these printers being of negligible cost (Murray, 2013). Nevertheless, the more complex and metal based designs require more expensive printers, with printers capable of printing in metal costing upwards of £250,000 (Bloomberg TV, 2013). 3D printers were initially developed during the 1980’s and the 1990’s to produce objects for prototypes, but it was soon realised a wide range of materials and shapes could be produced in high quality for a fraction of the price (Birtchnell and Urry, 2013). Objects that can be produced include: individually designed shoes, dental crowns, bionic arms and car and aerospace parts (Ibid). Alongside this, are an increasing number of websites, including open source and peer to peer variants, freely offering user submitted designs of products ranging from household objects to luxury items (Ibid).
While there are many positives which have been made available by this technology, it has not been without some unintended consequences (Rimmer, 2012). Many writers have identified 3D printing as a potentially disruptive technology, such as Matthew Rimmer who states ‘3D Printing is the latest in a long line of disruptive technologies – including photocopiers, cassette recorders, MP3 players, personal computers, peer to peer networks, and wikis – which have challenged intellectual property laws, policies, practices, and norms’ (2012:6). In relation to 3D Printing, problems have been predicted in patent law, copying products, copyright, and the difficulty of preventing violation of these laws (Rimmer, 2012) (Weinberg, 2010). However, what differentiates 3D printers from the other disruptive technologies mentioned is the physical nature of the objects it produces. While it shares some of the same policing problems and difficulties that peer to peer networks offer, it differs completely in the potential negative effect of this technology. Due to the physical nature of the objects it produces, the potential negative ramifications of abuses of this technology go well beyond the previously mentioned disruptive technologies. Examples of this include, the printing of card skimmers, which are inserted over bank machine and designs of printable plastic knuckles with spikes on (Morelle, 2013) (DEFCAD, 2013F).
However, 3D printable firearms have caused the most controversy, in both the media’s reaction and in legislative responses. ‘The possibility of homemade guns has aroused the ire of gun-control advocates as much as it’s sparked the excitement of gun aficionados’ (Lallanilla, 2013). In 2012, a self-styled ‘crypto-anarchist’ called Cody Wilson alarmed law enforcement officials when his non-profit organization, Defense Distributed, posted plans on the Internet for making a 3D-printable plastic firearm (BBC, 2013B) (Lallanilla, 2013). From this first design, plastic 3D printable firearms have evolved, improved and diversified into a number of different designs, including some designs that boast semiautomatic fire functionality. In addition to the development of plastic 3D printed firearms, there have been developments in the field of additive manufacture using metal. The first fully metal 3D printed firearm was produced by ‘Solid Concepts, based in Austin, Texas, USA, replicated the parts of a classic Browning 1911 pistol’ (Gibbs, 2013). While there have not yet been any prosecutions involving 3D firearms, the continually reducing cost of 3D printers and their growing availability in homes around the country, suggest that 3D printed firearms are likely to be increasingly problematic and extremely difficult to police in the near future.
To fully determine if the concern regarding 3D printed firearms is justified and necessary. This dissertation will start with some historical context of homemade firearms. It will then explore the continued development and effectiveness of these firearms. After that, consideration will then be given to the current firearm regulation systems and current responses in the UK and the USA to their development. Finally, this dissertation concludes with some evidenced predictions for some likely future trends regarding these weapons.

To assess the need for concern regarding 3D printed firearms, large amounts of secondary data were consulted and analysed. Some of these sources include; academic books and journals, newspaper articles both online and offline variants, parliamentary reports and official statistics. There is a need for an eclectic mix of sources to enable an informed analysis of the available secondary research. Primary research was considered to achieve the aim, however, as the subject area relates to objects that are illegal to make, sell, buy or own without a licence in the UK, this research will need to be conducted through literary analysis (Svetlik, 2013). In addition to this, even if legality wasn’t a concern, primary research doesn’t correlate well with the aims of this research. As this is the only viable and effective form of research available to me, a critical review of the current and potential impacts of 3D printed firearms through the collection of secondary research and analysis of the literature, will allow me to gain a well-balanced analysis of events through a variety of sources with different viewpoints and cultural backgrounds (Walliman, 2001). The definition of a literature review is encapsulated by Chris Hart who stated that ‘The selection of available documents both published and unpublished on the topic, which contain information, ideas, data and evidence written from a particular standpoint to fulfil certain aims or express certain views on the nature of the topic and how it is to be investigated, and the effective evaluation of these documents in relation to the research being proposed’ (1998:13).
One of the main benefits of secondary literary analysis is the saving in cost and time. Secondary research allows the chance to access large amounts of data for a fraction of the cost in both monetary terms and in time (Bryman, 2008). Along with the large saving in time and money, a lot of sources of published literature used during this literature review will be of extremely high quality, allowing for an accurate overview to be obtained for the entire subject area (Ibid). Another advantage of secondary literary analysis is the opportunity for cross- cultural analysis, due to the global nature of 3D printed firearms; it is necessary and important that different cultural viewpoints are taken into account. While there are some associated problems with applying research conducted in one country to other countries, important analysis can be drawn from the different viewpoints and aims of research based in different countries (Ibid). Data collection is time consuming, however, due to the nature of this research area, primary research is both unviable and ineffective allowing for more time to be spent on literary analysis and synthesis (Ibid). The final advantage that can be associated with secondary literary analysis are the new interpretations that can be gained through reanalysis. Due to the global nature of 3D printing, new interpretations of published literature will enable a comprehensive analysis of the subject area (Ibid).
While secondary literary analysis has a great many positives associated with it, it is not without its negative attributes. The first is related to the foreign nature of the published literature and its associated analysis. This lack of familiarization with the literature will need to be taken into account during this analysis, through more time being devoted to analysis (Ibid). Linked to the lack of familiarly to the date, is the complex nature of some of the sources that I will use. To account for this, a large amount of time will need to be devoted to achieve the necessary understanding (Ibid). As some of the literature will have been written for different aims, caution will need to be taken to make sure the literature is fit for purpose (Ibid) .The final potential weakness of using secondary literary analysis is while lots of published literature is of high quality not all of it will be. This means care will need to taken with regards to the selection of reputable and reliable sources (Ibid).
The exclusive use of literary analysis allowed this topic area to fully address though a wide range of reputable and reliable literary sources. This would not have been possible through primary research, due to the nature of the research area and legality. The advantages of using literary analysis greatly outweigh the potentially negative effects of this type of research. Thus, a large and varied amount of published literature will enable this research to efficiently and effectively address the level of concern required regarding 3D printed firearms.

History of Homemade Guns
To fully address the potential effects of homemade 3D printed firearms, some acknowledgement will need to be given to the history and the historical effects of homemade weapons. Homemade firearms have been referred to by many names such as zip guns, zap guns or pipe/pop guns, however, the term ‘zip gun’ is the most citied in regard to scholars and refers to a ‘crude home-made firearm’ and can be traced back, to the USA in the 1950’s(Cunliffe and Denton, 2008:216).
While scholarly material suggests that this term originated in the 1950’s and/or the 1960’s, there is evidence of this term being used as far back as the late 1940’s to describe crudely made homemade firearms. Through research, it was easy to see a general consensus on the origin of the term ‘zip gun’ (Di Maio, 1999) (Hardy, 2012). With nearly all authors and scholars agreeing on not only the point of origin in time but also in space. As they identify the origin of the term coming from the 1950’s to 1960’s, and zip guns being used by juveniles in New York. However, through the use of a google book search and advanced setting specifying a year range, results were found as far back as the late 1940’s; with references to zip guns increasing in frequency up until the 1950’s and 1960’s where this term was alleged to originate from.
The first use of the term was by James Benet in a book entitled A Private Killing published in 1949 with repeated references to zip guns. One such reference reads ‘”He was shot with a zip gun”.’ the context in which this word is used is important here, as no definition is given (1949:177). The context of the use of zip gun in this sentence helps to give credence to the idea that this term pre-dated the 1960’s and even the 1950’s. The lack of explanation of the term when it was first used in the book, helps to suggest that that this term was it in common use before this book was published. While the uses of the term zip gun clearly predate the agreed upon origin, the meaning of the term both pre 1950 and after are remarkable similar. Suggesting that the term gained increasing popularity and use from the late 1940’s up to the 1950’s and beyond.
For the purposes of this dissertation the term zip gun will refer to any homemade firearm from any era. Zip guns range from the very crude to the almost professional levels of sophistication, with the very crude variants being a greater danger to the firer than to the intended target (Di Maio, 1999). The levels of sophistication vary greatly, with near professional examples of instructional articles and books on how to make fully formed semi-automatic submachine guns, handguns and .22 Machines Pistols using commonly available equipment like files, chisels and a hand drill (Holmes, 1996). While very crude variations of zip guns can be made with a piece of water pipe and cycle frame serving as the frame and a nail serving the function of the trigger (Singh, 2007). Levels of sophistication vary with different designs, with mechanical knowledge being required for the more advanced variants such as; modified blank pistols, tear gas guns and cap pistols (Hissa et al, 2003)( Koffler, 1970).
In the majority of cases the effectiveness of zip guns tends to be of substantially lower quality than commercially made models. This is often down to a myriad of reasons; due to the smooth bore nature of the barrel, oversized muzzle and short barrel, the projectile often tumbles out of the firearm reducing the accuracy and terminal velocity of the projectile (Singh, 2007). Coupled with this is the usually irregular nature of the barrel, which increases the likelihood of explosions and ruptures in the barrel (Gojanovi, 1995). ‘The danger of shots fired with homemade weapons is well known, these weapons are not reliable or safe, and may cause serious injuries. Complications include wounds from back-firing and shrapnel wounds from an exploding barrel’ (Gojanovi, 1995:216).
Thus, the capacity to wound and kill with these guns varies considerably, not only from one firearm to another, but from one firing to another due to their normally fairly flimsy design and manufacture (Singh, 2007). However, in general the bullets fired from zip guns have low velocity, energy and due to the unstable nature of the projectile they are fairly inaccurate at medium to long ranges causing minimal damage if they reach their intended target (Singh, 2007). With Gojanovi stating ‘Shooting with home-made firearms may not be efficient, particularly in distant shooting because of non-spinning missiles in smooth bore.’ (1995:214). Despite the lower terminal velocity and tumbling of the projectile, if used at close range, injuries can be serious and often lethal (Gojanovi, 1995). Repeat firing is also problematic, as the majority of homemade zip guns can only fire one bullet at a time and many have a reloading process that can be described as cumbersome and complex (Hissa et al, 2003).
Historically, the use of zip guns is associated with criminal and terrorist acts as well as self-inflicted wounds (Hissa et al, 2003). While homemade firearms have been around as long as professional produced weapons, they reach their height of their popularity due to criminal activity in the United States during juvenile gang wars in New York in the 1950’s and 1960’s (Di Maio, 1999). Many of these guns were of low quality, manufactured with inexpensive materials, few tools and limited skills, often manufactured in high school shop classes (Ibid). Zip guns were most commonly encountered in poverty-stricken areas, due to their ease and low cost of manufacture (Ibid). However, this increased prevalence of zip guns wasn’t to last. Due to increased mobility and affluence of the population alongside a dramatic increase in the availability of inexpensive commercially produced handguns, the use of zip guns in criminal activity reduced dramatically (Cunliffe and Denton, 2008). Zip guns are still occasionally used in cases where the subject has some mechanical knowledge and the necessary materials available; however, it is limited to a handful of cases a year (Ibid) (New Haven Independent, 2013).
What is quite evident is that zip guns historically have been easy to produce; many of them have been of questionable quality and effectiveness and more often than not, been more of a danger to the shooter than the intended target. However, with the ability to produce 3D printed firearms, it is quite reasonable to believe that moderately sophisticated 3D printed firearms could become the modern and much more effective substitute to traditional homemade firearms.
Development, Effectiveness and Dissemination of 3D Printed Firearms and Designs

Development of 3D firearm Designs
The first popularised fully formed 3D printable single shot firearm called the ‘Liberator’, was designed, produced and test fired by gunsmithing group ‘Defense Distributed’ in May of 2013 (BBC, 2013A) (Greenberg, 2013A). Before this, only component parts of firearms were produced, examples of this including the lower receiver of an AR-15 and the magazine of an AK-47 (Greenberg, 2013B) (Business insider Australia, 2013). The gun was called the ‘Liberator’, in reference to a pilot program during World War 2 who’s aims was to create an easily produced, low tech firearm intended to put weapons into the hands of occupied Europe’s disarmed population, to enable individuals to fight oppressive governments (Canfield, 2012). The concept of the liberator program, reportedly, was the motivation for this 3D firearm designs, as well as the aesthetic appearance of both guns being very similar (Morelle, 2013). ‘It took Defense Distributed eight months to produce the firearm, which was assembled from separate components produced on an $8,000 (£5,000) 3D printer bought from auction site, eBay’ (BBC, 2013A). The liberator is assembled from separate printed components made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic. The firing pin is the only metal component, as ABS plastic is unable to withstand the pressures of activating the primer of the bullet (Morelle, 2013). The liberator was designed to be an easy to print and assemble single shot firearm, because of this, the design is fairly simplistic and earlier versions of the liberator could even be described as crude. Defense Distributed published a video of the gun being test fired by hand on the 5th May 2013, with the address of the website that these online plans could be downloaded from (Defense Distributed, 2013).
The online 3D printing community tend to modify designs through, users posting their designs online and these designs being tested by the user that posted it, or but other interested users (Business Insider Australia, 2013). However, this process is exaggerated and sped up for the more highly demanded and popular designs (Business Insider Australia, 2013). Through this online process, designs have progressed dramatically from this first design by Defense Distributed. Plastic based designs of these firearms have continually improved and diversified into a multitude of different models, versions and types of firearms. Examples of improvements to the liberator design include ‘new barrels for the Liberator pistol in an assortment of other calibres including .25 ACP, .44 Special, .45 ACP and 9x18mm Makarov’ (Slowik, 2013). Improvements have also been made to the size and durability of the liberator design to enable it to withstand 10 shots before failing (DEFCAD, 2013A) (Slowik, 2013). The liberator design has also been made more accurate through rifling of the barrel (Anthony, 2013). In addition to improvement and modifications on the original designs, more complex designs have been created. One such design is called the “Liberator Pepperbox” that ‘features a four-barrelled cylinder that promises increased durability over the original Liberator design and quadruple the capacity’ (Slowik, 2013). The ‘pepperbox’ model is now into version three as the online community has continued to make improvements on this design (DEFCAD, 2013C). There are also designs online that boast semiautomatic fire functions. This model describes itself as a 3D printed semiautomatic printable firearm (DEFCAD, 2013B). Development has also been made in calibre sizes, with some designs claiming that .44 special round can be fired without losing structural integrity (DEFCAD, 2013D).
In addition to the development of plastic 3D printed firearm designs, there has also been a development in the field of additive manufacture using metal. Printing objects in metal through additive manufacture resolves some of the inherent problems that are associated with printing in plastic. The ability to 3D print in metal allows for the manufacture of substantially stronger, more complex models, widening the list of object that is realistically printable. Metal additive manufacture, in relation for 3D printed firearms, allows for the production of fully metal ‘professional quality’ firearms (Gibbs, 2013). The first fully metal 3D printed firearm was produced by ‘Solid Concepts, based in Austin, Texas, USA, replicated the parts of a classic Browning 1911 pistol’ (Gibbs, 2013). Solid Concepts successfully used the handgun to fire 50 rounds, claiming the project aim was to prove the quality and suitability of 3D printed parts for real world applications (Dezeen Magazine, 2013).

Effectiveness of 3D printed firearms
It is important to note that the development of 3D printed firearm designs has dramatically improved the effectiveness and durability of these firearms. Different designs will have different levels of effectiveness and durability and the same is true of different or more recent versions of the same design. The first designs of 3D printed firearms and component parts of guns could be describes as primitive, requiring a large amount of time to be invested into making the various designs functional. Throughout the designing and testing process, the component parts of firearms designed, printed and produced by Defense Distributed had varying levels of effectiveness, with most versions of their lower receiver of the AR-15 structurally struggling to cope with the recoil forces of firing (VICE, 2013). With Cody Wilson even stating when testing a lower receiver, ‘this is gen three, we know how it’s going to break’ (VICE, 2013). When a third generation lower receiver lost structural integrity and split in half during a test firing (VICE, 2013). High Capacity magazines designed and printed by Defense Distributed also had functionality problems during the design process (Vice, 2013). In addition to the component parts produced by Defense Distributed, The Liberator firearm also had problems in the design and testing phases. During the design and testing process, many of the test guns didn’t fire due to misalignment and printing issues. Test models even lost all structural integrity during the firing process, when the ammunition was changed to more powerful ammunition (DNews, 2013) (Greenberg, 2013B). However, despite these difficulties The Liberator successfully ‘fired a standard .380 handgun round without visible damage’ in May of 2013 (Greenberg, 2013A) (BBC, 2013A). The same is true with their component parts, as in March 2013, Defense Distributed released a YouTube video of a 3D-printed AR-15 lower receiver that fired a hundred rounds without failing’ (Greenberg, 2013A). Other improvements made to 3D printed firearms by additive manufacturing firms include the world’s first 3D printed metal gun. Produced by solid concepts the firearm reportedly ‘functions beautifully and has already handled 50 rounds of successful firing’ (Gibbs, 2013) (Solid Concepts, cited in Dezeen Magazine, 2013). The gun is made up of over 30 3D printed components, printed in a stainless steel and an nickel-chromium based alloy that is capable of hitting ‘a few bulleyes at over 30 yard’ (Gibbs, 2013). The inclusion of metal into additive manufacturing process allows for more complex, stronger and intricate designs to be made. The metal laser sintering process used by Solid Concepts to manufacture the different gun components, is one of the most accurate additive manufacturing processes available, allowing for the tight tolerances of this metal design to be met (Dezeen Magazine, 2013).
This improvement in effectiveness of 3D printed firearms and component parts can also be seen in relation to designs posted by the online community, with the effectiveness and durability of designs posted online increasing incrementally since the first test of the Liberator. Example of this include the ability to successfully shoot in calibres up to .44 special, which in comparison to the first firing of .380 handgun round in the original Liberator design, marks a dramatic increase in the durability of plastic 3D printed firearm designs (Slowik, 2013). Other improvements in effectiveness include rifling of barrels, the increase in the number of barrels and designs that claim semi-automatic firing functionality (Slowik, 2013) (Anthony, 2013). Improvements made to online design files are improved through a trial and error basis. This involves the design being put online, printed and tested by the same or different users. After the firearm has been tested, suggestions are made for improvements and the cycle continues (Business Insider Australia, 2013). However, this process is exaggerated and sped up for the more highly demanded and popular designs, which can help to explain the speed at which new designs are produced and improved by the online community (Business Insider Australia, 2013).
Another variable that needs to be taken into account is the quality of the printer that is printing the design. The printer used by Defense Distributed in the design and making of the Liberator is a high end printer costing $8,000 (£5,000), that can produce models in higher quality and finer detail then more standard 3D printers used at home (BBC, 2013A) (DNews, 2013). Demonstrating this, the Australian New South Wales Police, put out a video warning the public of the dangers of using these 3D printed firearms. They printed the Liberator design with a base entry level printer costing $1,700 dollars. All the printed firearms they produced and test fired using this printer suffered catastrophic structural failure, with the New South wales police stating that these firearms are ‘enormously dangerous, both to the person that you may be choosing to use it against and to yourself’ (Australia Videos, 2013) (The Independent, 2013). Worthy of note here is the cost disparity between low and high end 3D printers. New cheaper models of 3D printers are now as inexpensive as £199, and the materials used by these printers being of negligible cost (Murray, 2013). Nevertheless, the more complex and metal based designs require more expensive printers, with printers capable of printing in metal costing upwards of £250,000 (Bloomberg TV, 2013). So while online designs are progressing in both their durability and effectiveness, the quality of the printer still needs to be taken into account when producing a 3D printable design file. Despite this technology still being in its infancy, the continued developments in the different methods of manufacture and the increasing complexity of the designs freely available online, show that 3D printing technology will continue to developed and improve.
Dissemination of these designs
Both the effectiveness and the development of 3D printed firearms have been discussed, however, no discussion has been given to the sharing and the decimation of these designs online. 3D printable design files tend to be stored, shared and hosted on free to use websites like Thingiverse is a website run by a company that produces 3D printers called Makerbot. The website is used to, upload and browse uploaded 3D printable design files. Thingiverse states ‘MakerBot’s Thingiverse is a thriving design community for discovering, making, and sharing 3D printable things. As the world’s largest 3D printing community, we believe that everyone should be encouraged to create and remix 3D things, no matter their technical expertise or previous experience. In the spirit of maintaining an open platform, all designs are encouraged to be licensed under a Creative Commons license, meaning that anyone can use or alter any design’ (Thingiverse, 2014). This was also true of printable firearms designs and printable designs of component parts of existing firearms. While these were in the minority of designs uploaded, they existed amongst the other printable design files on websites like Thingiverse (VICE, 2013). However, in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, Makerbot pulled all blueprints of gun parts from its website, with the company stating ‘it had the right to review and take appropriate action against Thingiverse users if they breached its terms of use’ (BBC, 2012). In reaction to MakerBot’s crackdown, Cody Wilson, founder of Defense Distributed, stated that he planned to create a new site for “hosting ‘fugitive’ 3D-printable gun files in the next few hours” (BBC, 2012). This website is a database for 3D pintable designs called DEFCAD, run by Defense Distributed. Dubbed as the ‘Pirate bay of 3D printing’ by the media, DEFCAD claims to be dedicated to copyright free blueprints for a range of 3D printable designs (BBC, 2013B). Available on this website for free download are various 3D printable firearms, covering different designs, calibre and firing capacities. As well as component parts of existing firearms including lower receivers and magazines. The liberator design on this website has seen over 400,000 downloads since the site launched (BBC, 2013B). Along with the single designs files available for download, are packs of designs put together. An example of a one such pack is entitled ‘FOSSCAD mega pack v4.6’. This pack contains 17 different printable designs ranging from component parts of existing firearms to fully printable single shot firearms (DEFCAD, 2013E). In addition to website like DEFCAD, there are also peer to peer networks that allow for the download of 3D printable designs (Rimmer, 2012).

Current Regulation Systems Regarding Gun Control and Responses to 3D Printed Firearms
Regulatory systems for firearms differ greatly from country to country, however, for the purposes of this dissertation, two countries with very different values in regard to gun control have been chosen, namely the UK and the USA. This will enable the collection of a differing set of views to the effects of 3D printed firearms.
Regulation of firearms and individual component parts in the USA is based around controlling the manufacturing, importing and dealing of firearms, set out by the Gun Control Act 1968 and the National Firearms Act 1934. While each state enacts its own gun law, the Gun Control Act 1968 and the National Firearms Act 1934 give a general framework for each state (Krouse, 2012). This is done through a system called the Federal Firearm Licence (FFL), meaning that anyone involved in the manufacture, importation and dealing of firearms are required to have one, to legally operate (Zimring, 1975). The Gun Control Act 1968 requires each gun created by licenced manufacturers to possess a serial number that is required to be kept on record (Jensen-Haxel, 2012). Dealers need to keep records on almost all firearm transactions, including transfers in interstate commerce (Jensen-Haxel, 2012). ‘Denying access to firearms to certain congressionally defined groups, including minors, convicted felons and persons who had been adjudicated as mental defectives or committed to mental intuitions’ is the Act’s main aim (Gun Control Act 1968, cited in Zimring, 1975:149). For regulatory purposes, when a firearm is broken down into component parts, the only piece that is considered a firearm is the central frame or receiver (Zimring, 1975). With all other domestically produced components for common firearms being unregulated. An example of a common firearm is a AR-15, as all the component parts apart for the lower receiver, are easily ordered over the internet without a licence or a check on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICBCS) (VICE, 2013) (Jensen-Haxel, 2012). When a private individual attempts to purchase a firearm or a lower receiver of a firearm from a Federal Firearms Licenced dealer, they have to submit to a NICBCS. If they are not prohibited and are of age, the transfer is approved while the Federal Firearms Licenced dealer retains paper purchase records of the transaction. Ammunition can also be purchased without going through a NICBCS check as it is considered a domestically produced component (Jensen-Haxel, 2012). In addition to this, it is also legal under the Gun Control Act 1968, for unlicensed individuals to make a firearm for his own personal use, but not for sale or distribution (ATF, 2014). Meaning that, producing a firearm at home through a 3D printer is legal as long as it is not for sale or distribution (ATF, 2014). While parts for common guns are unrestricted, heightened restrictions apply to fully assembled guns with certain component arrangements including individual parts that enable rapid fire under the National Firearm Act 1934 (Jensen-Haxel, 2012).
The regulatory system for Firearms and their component parts in the United Kingdom is very different, with the basic principle’s being radically different from the USA’s, the UK’s firearms policy is based on the fact that firearms are dangerous weapons and the State has a duty to protect the public from their misuse. Gun ownership is a privilege, not a right.’ (Home Office, 2013:5). There are a number of different laws that regulate firearms in the United Kingdom, including the Firearms Act 1968, the Export Control Act 2002 and the European Council Directive of 18 June 1991 on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons (Gun Policy, 2014). There are a limited number of firearms that may be licenced; these include shotguns, rifles and some air weapons. However there are some restrictions, while shotguns can be licenced self-loading or pump action shotguns are not permitted (Home Office, 2013). In relation to rifles, self-loading rifles are also prohibited and more generally any firearm which is so designed or adapted so that two or more missiles can be successively discharged without repeated pressure on the trigger are also prohibited (Home Office, 2013). Size limits are also placed on both firearms and calibre of the bullets that are licensable, as well as a complete restriction of firearms that are disguised as other objects (Home Office, 2013). Regarding ammunition, firearm and shotgun certificates are required in respect of the majority of firearm ammunition, however, a shotgun certificate is not required to purchase, possess or acquire shotgun cartridges if they don’t exceed .36 inches in diameter (Home Office, 2013). Ordinary shot cartridges are covered in this description as they are less than .36 inches in diameter. Unlike the USA, all component parts of firearms fall under the same restrictions that those firearms would have if they were complete (Home Office, 2013). To obtain a firearms or shotgun licence, permission to possess, purchase, or acquire a firearm needs to be granted by the police (Home Office, 2013). The individual in questions need to not pose a threat to the public and must have a good reason to own a firearm (Home Office, 2013). For the latter to be met they must require a firearm on a regular legitimate basis, reasons include; sport, work or leisure (Home Office, 2013).
There have been a number of recent developments for regulation systems in regards to 3D printed firearms, in both the USA and the UK. The USA updated the Undetectable Firearms Act 1988 that was due to run out in December 2013, which ‘makes it a federal offense to “manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, possess, transfer, or receive” a firearm capable of defeating airport metal detection’ (Brown, 2012). Requiring that any firearm at the very least have 3.7 ounces of stainless steel (Brown, 2012). This law also prohibits the production and sale firearms, that don’t look like firearms to an airport scanner (Brown, 2012). However, while Congress renewed the ban of undetectable firearms for the next ten years, it didn’t add any new restrictions on plastic firearms, such as making the required amount of metal difficult to remove (Roberts, 2013). This can be seen in the liberator design, as the legally required metal in the design can be removed quite easily (Roberts, 2013). Along with the update of the Undetectable Firearms Act, ‘Local governments have also made moves to regulate 3-D printed guns. In Philadelphia, the city council passed an ordinance that would hit anyone caught with a 3-D printed firearm with a fine of up to $2,000’ (Wagstaff, 2013). State and local legislators in California, New York and Washington, D.C., have also proposed similar measures (Wagstaff, 2013).
Meanwhile, in the UK, there has been a clarification of current laws rather than an update or changes to current laws. ‘The manufacture, purchase, sale and possession of 3D printed firearms, ammunition or their component parts is fully captured by the provisions in section 57(1) of the Firearms Act 1968’ (Home Office, 2013:24). ‘The expression “firearm” in the 1968 Act means a lethal barrelled weapon of any description, or component part of such weapon, from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged’ (Home Office, 2013:24). As 3D printed firearms, are potentially lethal barrelled weapons, they are viewed as firearms by the law, with the Home Office stating ‘the method of manufacture is not material to this consideration’ (Home Office, 2013:24).

So What?
Whilst the technical aspects, effectiveness, history of homemade weapons, the development of 3D printed firearms and current regulatory systems have been discussed, no discussion has been given to the level of concern that these 3D printed firearms pose. Thus, this section will attempt to; rationalise the effects of 3D printed firearms, the level of concern necessary and give a discussion into the unintended consequences of this technology.
Why are 3D printed firearms different from historically produced homemade firearms?
Historically, individuals have always had the ability to make firearms at home, with commonly available items like water pipes, cycle frames and nails (Singh, 2007). Thus, the advent of 3D printers and their use in regards to the printing of firearms can be considered to be new technology serving a historic function. However, there are a great many differences between historic methods of producing homemade firearms and 3D printed firearms. This section will attempt to highlight these differences, and show how the advent of 3D printers has radically changed the issue of homemade firearms.
In the majority of cases, homemade firearms made without the use of 3D printer are of substantially lower quality than commercially made models. With the very crude variants being of greater danger to the firer, than the intended target (Singh, 2007) (Di Maio, 1999). Common issue with firearms produced this way include; smooth bore and short barrels, oversized muzzles and irregular and rough designs (Singh, 2007). This often resulted in decreased accuracy, tumbling projectiles and increased chance of the firearm losing all structural integrity (Gojanovi, 1995). In this regard, homemade firearms created without the use of a 3D printer, are very similar to current models of plastic firearms produced by 3D printers, with many designs of firearms and component parts of firearms having accuracy, functional and structural integrity problems (DNews, 2013) (VICE, 2013). While, it can be seen that there are similarities regarding the quality of homemade firearms produced with and without 3D printers, there are also a great many differences. One of the main differences between firearms produced with or without the use of a 3D printer, is the different levels of mechanical knowledge required. Producing homemade firearms without the use of a 3D printer requires a certain amount of mechanical knowledge as well as a few tools, to manipulate, chisel, file, drill, cut and mould the metal or plastic to the required shapes and sizes (Di Maio, 1999) (Hissa et al, 2003) (Koffler, 1970). While the amount of mechanical knowledge and ability varies from design to design, there is a minimum level of mechanical knowledge required, to produce even the most simplistic of designs (Holmes, 1996). This can be seen from the example of zip guns used in juvenile gang wars in New York in the 1950’s, which required the use of a tools and limited skills in high school shop classes (Di Maio, 1999). On the other hand, homemade firearms produced by 3D printers from designs online, necessitate a much lower minimum level of mechanical knowledge and access to tools to produce, due to the process of additive manufacture (VICE, 2013). As this involves the printing of objects through layering of plastic or metal, all the components of the design are produced to the correct size and shape, allowing for designs to be made to a higher degree of accuracy than compared to traditional methods. Even though many designs require assembly after printing, all the parts printed are the correct size and shape which allows for easy assembly (VICE, 2013) (DNews, 2013). This ability to find a designs online and print those designs, mean, that a greater percentage of the general population will have the minimum skills necessary to access, produce and put together 3D printed homemade firearms, than compared to homemade firearms produced without a 3D printer.
Another notable difference linked to this concept of additive manufacture is the standardised nature of 3D printed firearms. Before the advent of 3D printers, homemade firearms had a very low level of standardisation (Singh, 2007) (Hissa et al, 2003). As often, homemade firearms were made using materials and resources available to the creator at the time (Di Maio, 1999). However, the increased use of 3D printers to print firearms could potentially result in standardization in quality of homemade firearms. The process of additive manufacture means that objects are produced to the same standard every time (Rimmer, 2012). The use of additive manufacture for the production of homemade firearms will mean that everyone printing the same design with the same or better printer, will be able to produce homemade firearms to the exact same standard. This is problematic as when more technically capable and structurally sound designs are available for download, this could potentially result in the increase in effectiveness and structural integrity of homemade firearms. While, current online designs suffer from the same structural integrity and effectiveness issues that can be seen with homemade firearms produced without a 3D printer, the continued improvements to these designs online show that 3D printed firearms have the potential to considerably raise the standard of homemade firearms.
Continued Development of 3D Printable Firearms
The majority of 3D printed plastic firearms that are currently accessible from websites and torrents are fairly simplistic and require more expensive printers to produce firearms that can withstand more than one firing, however, continued development of 3D printable firearm designs have greatly improved their effectiveness. As previously mentioned, this development of online designs is done in one of two ways. The first is individuals uploading their own individual design which could be completely original, or an amalgamation of other uploaded designs, while the second is modifying designs that have already been uploaded to websites like DEFCAD and Thingiverse (Business Insider Australia, 2013) (DEFCAD, 2013A) (DEFCAD, 2013C). The modification and improvement of existing designs is more popular with the 3D printing community and is referred to as ‘modding’ (Business Insider Australia, 2013) (Rollenhagenaug, 2013). It involves users posting their work in progress online. Other users will then print, test and modify the design, and repost the improved design. Through this process, designs are improved over time, refined and changed to become more effective and durable. This is true of most printable designs on these websites, including designs of 3D printable firearms (Business Insider Australia, 2013) (Rollenhagenaug, 2013). This modification of designs can be seen from the transformation from the original liberator designs that has one barrel, to the ‘Derringer Pepperbox’ design that is based on the liberator design but has six barrels rather than one (DEFCAD, 2013A) (DEFCAD, 2013C). The ‘pepperbox’ model is now into version three as the online community has continued to make improvements on this design (DEFCAD, 2013C). The development and production of original designs can also be seen in relation of 3D printable firearms; an example of one such original design is the first 3D printed rifle that successfully fired 14 rounds of .22 calibre rifle rounds. This design is substantially different from the original liberator design produced by Defense Distributed and substantially more durable (Rollenhagenaug, 2013). The current rate of development shows that these designs have considerable room for improvement. The modification and development of 3D printable firearm designs by the online community also show that this process can be substantially sped up for more highly demanded and popular designs (Business Insider Australia, 2013).
The storage of open source 3D printable firearm designs online has helped increase the rate of improvement and development. For open source 3D printable designs, the development and improvement of the same design can be done by many different users at the same time. All of these users will print out the exact same design and are able to test and modify the same design (Pearce, et al, 2010). This enables an accelerated, self-directed, and sustainable development of that design (Pearce, et al, 2010). ‘Now, with affordable 3D printers on sale, widespread internet access and the open-source movement gaining followers, more people can use, study, copy and change a design for free and share the improvements online’(The Guardian, 2014). This accelerated, self-directed and sustained development also applies to designs of 3D printable firearms. On websites like, users can download and freely modify designs of a multitude of different firearms, these improved versions take the place of older versions of the same design and the process starts again. This process has enabled the rapid improvement of 3D printable firearms designs and will continue to do so with the continuing reducing price of 3D printers and access to the internet. Due to the storage of the modified and improved 3D printable firearm designs online and modification by the online community, the improved designs of 3D printable firearms have the potential to be more effective, reliable, accurate and easier to produce than historic homemade firearms. Improvements can be made by one person with the necessary expertise and these exact improvements can disseminated to the entire 3D printing community, through download and the process of additive manufacture.
The continued reduction in the price of 3D plastic capable printers may also speed this process up of modification and improvement in relation to all 3D printable designs. Current models of 3D printers are now as inexpensive as $199 and they are continuing to reduce in price (Murray, 2013). It has also been argued that as well as plastic capable 3D printers going down in price, eventually printers that can print in metal and other hybrid materials may also reduce in price enough to be considered to be a practical price for domestic households (Murray, 2013) (Rimmer, 2012). ‘3D printing is, like the computer in the 1970s, becoming available to the domestic enthusiast. Like the home computer, personal 3D printing has the potential to radically change aspects of the way in which we live; we can even envisage a society where home manufacturing of many items is the norm’ (Bradshaw, cited in Rimmer, 2012:19). The continuing reduction in the price of 3D printers, is likely to increase their use and many commentators claim in the near future the majority of home will contain a 3D printer (Birtchnell and Urry, 2013) (Rimmer, 2012).

Problems with Policing the Dissemination of 3D Printable Firearm Designs
While the policing of firearms has historically been physically based, 3D printed firearms and the storage of their design files on the internet has taken away from the physical style of policing. Before, the policing and regulation of firearms was based on limiting the number of suppliers and regulating who was able to access firearms. However, the advent of 3D printing has shifted this dynamic, through increasing the number of those that are capable of producing firearms to everyone with a capable 3D printer. This change will have a profound effect on how firearms will need to be policed and regulated, from the enforcement of these designs online to the security systems used to detect firearms. The problems of policing the internet are well known, however, these have not been explored in relation to 3D printable firearm designs. As these designs can be downloaded and uploaded at will, on websites enabling peer to peer downloads and user generated forums. The policing of 3D printable design files will need to be considered in relation to intellectual property theft or ‘cyberpiracy’ of music, films, games and software over the internet (Wall, 2001). One of the most obvious consequences of the new information and communications revolution is the increased communication capacity; however, as electronic transmission and reproduction of information has become so easy and common place, it has made the traditional view of copyright law increasingly irrelevant (Jewkes, 2012). One form of regulation and enforcement is the shutting down of websites that enable cyberpiracy. One well known case that highlights this is Napster, a free music downloading service that was forced to suspend its operation in 2001, when the Record Industry of America filed for copyright infringement. However, while Napster was successfully shut down, numerous peer-to-peer file-swapping services have emerged since Napster that continued to bypass copyright legislation. This includes websites like Pirate Bay, Isohunt and Kick Ass Torrents (Gil, 2014). While Pirate Bay was shut down by the Dutch court in May of 2012, a study done by Poort et al from the University of Amsterdam found instead of a reduction in illegal downloading, ‘the percentage of downloaded films & series, games and books from illegal sources in the preceding six month had increased between May and November-December 2012, while the percentage downloading of music from illegal sources remained constant’. (2013:11). Other approaches that attempt to deal with cyberpiracy include legislative approaches both international and national, with The Council of Europe coming up with its Convention on Cybercrime, including in which is its national and international legislation to deal with cyberpiracy(Everett, 2009). This Convention is intended to act as a guideline for countries developing laws on the issues as well as a framework for international cooperation. Currently there are 46 states signed up to it including UK, USA and South Africa (Ibid). However, legislation, whether national or international, is not without its problems. Firstly, international and inter partnership working tends to be problematic due to slightly different legislation, procedure and domestic politics (Ibid). Secondly, legislative processes tend to move too slowly, taking years rather than the weeks or months that are required, due to the dynamic and ever changing nature of the online world in general and cyberpiracy in particular (Ibid). The aforementioned problems of internet policing and regulation in relation to 3D printed firearms and their designs has also been acknowledged by Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson creator of the original Liberator design stating ‘There is no way of purging the Internet of these files. It’s just like the file-sharing conversation that played out over the last decade’ (Cody Wilson, cited in Wagstaff, 2013)
In the United Kingdom, it is illegal to download, manufacture, purchase, sell or poses a 3D printed firearm, including its component parts without a firearms licence. However, the aforementioned problems with policing and regulating their designs online will most likely have a large impact on the enforceability and regulation of 3D printed firearm designs online (Poort et al, 2013). While 3D printers are currently not widely used, the continued reduction in price of 3D printers and the increasing availability of online design, mean that limiting the number of suppliers of firearms and regulating who is able to access printable firearm designs will become an ever more difficult task.
However, in the USA the situation is substantially different due to different legislation and less regulation. As mentioned in previous sections, most ammunition and component parts of firearms, excluding the lower receivers can be bought online without a firearms licence. As well at it being legal for individuals to make a firearm for his or her own person use, as long as it is not for sale and distribution (ATF, 2014). Meaning that, any US citizen with access to a 3D printer could potentially legally make 3D printed firearms as 3D printable designs of full firearms and lower receivers are easily accessible online. These factors mean that policing and regulating 3D printable design files online, will be of greater importance, as 3D printable lower receivers designs online undermine the current regulation system. An examples of this being the lower receiver of a firearm that has been used in a number of school shootings, the AR-15, designs of which are easily available online for direct download on website like Defcad.

Problems Posed on Current Regulation Systems by 3D printed Firearms
As previously mentioned 3D printed firearms created problems for the current regulatory systems in both the UK and the USA. In the UK, current laws state that ‘The manufacture, purchase, sale and possession of 3D printed firearms, ammunition or their component parts is fully captured by the provisions in section 57(1) of the Firearms Act 1968’ (Home Office, 2013:24). As 3D printed firearms are potentially lethal barrelled weapons, they are viewed as firearms by the law, with the Home Office stating ‘the method of manufacture is not material to this consideration’ (Home Office, 2013:24). However, while the production, purchase, sale and possession of 3D printed firearms are fully covered by the current regulation, 3D printed firearms do cause some regulatory problems. In the UK shotgun cartridges that don’t exceed .36 inches in diameter do not require a firearms licence to purchase (Home Office, 2013). Meaning that if an individual had access to, or could develop a 3D printable firearm design that was capable of firing a standard shotgun cartridge, a 3D printed firearm could be printed and ammunition could be bought without going through any regulatory systems.
The 3D printings of firearms are also problematic for the regulation systems in the USA. The first regulatory problems that 3D printing has created, is the printing of component parts of firearms. Under the current regulation system, all other component parts of firearms, with the exception of the lower receiver can be bought online without going through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Meaning that firearms that are commercially produced to high standards, can be accessed without a criminal record check through the 3D printing of the only part that is considered a firearm, the lower receiver. In the USA it is also legal to produce a firearm at home as long as it is not for sale or distribution (ATF, 2014). This means that 3D printable firearms designs like the Liberator can be printed, assembled and fired legally, as the purchase of ammunition also doesn’t require a firearms licence. 3D printable firearms have also created problems for The Undetectable Firearms Act 1988, while Congress renewed the ban of undetectable firearms for the next ten years, they didn’t add any new restrictions on plastic firearms, such as making the required amount of metal difficult to remove (Roberts, 2013). This can be seen in the liberator design, as the legally required metal in the design can be removed quite easily (Roberts, 2013). If the legally required metal can be taken out and put back in designs of 3D printed firearms likes The Liberator, it makes the enforceability of the Undetectable Firearms Act extremely difficult as the metal can be removed just before passing through metal detectors.
While 3D printers have given individuals the ability to produce firearms, it would be asinine to assume that the majority of individuals that have access to 3D printers would attempt such a thing. As this can also be seen in relation to homemade firearms made without the use of a 3D printer, as some designs can be produced with just a piece of water pipe and cycle frame serving as the frame and a nail serving the function of the trigger, all of which can easily be accessed by the majority of the population in the UK and the USA (Singh, 2007). However, while the majority of 3D printer users will not use this technology in this way, a minority may. The potential abuse of this technology will lead to current regulation systems in both the UK and the USA requiring substantial reform to fully encapsulate and mitigate the problems posed by 3D printed firearms and the storage of their designs online.

Potential Criminal Uses of 3D Printed Firearms
While there have been no convictions for the criminal use of 3D printed firearms the standardised nature of 3D printed firearms, their continued development, problems with policing the dissemination of their designs and regulatory problems in both the UK and the USA will make this increasingly likely. Thus, postulations have been made in relation to some potential criminal uses of this technology and 3D printed firearms.
The first potential criminal use for 3D printed firearms would be the printing of unregulated firearms, for the purposes for criminal activity, without going through a regulatory system or acquiring a firearms licence. An example of this is the printing of the lower receiver of a AR-15. As the printing of the lower receiver of an AR-15 allows for the assembly of an entire semiautomatic firearm to be created without going through any regulatory systems in the USA. An example in the UK would be the 3D printing of a firearm that is capable of successfully firing a standard shotgun cartridge, as this would also negate current regulatory systems in the UK and allow individuals that wouldn’t normally have access, access to potentially lethal firearms. As currently, standard shotgun cartridges can be purchased without a firearms licence. Worthy of note here is that the majority of 3D printed firearms are currently more expensive, less effective and harder to get hold of than non 3D printed illegitimate firearms. Thus, it is unlikely that individuals looking for illegitimate access to firearms would turn to 3D printable firearms currently (Reynolds, 2014). However, the continually reducing price of printers and increasing effectiveness of designs could mean that in the future 3D printed firearms are a logical alternative to historical illegitimate firearms.
Another potential criminal use of3D printers is the printing of illegitimate firearms that don’t look like firearms, or are otherwise disguised. As previously mentioned, current firearm regulatory systems are negated through the printing of whole firearms or the printing of certain regulated parts. However, this situation is made even more complex when disguised firearms are taken into account. If designs of firearms that look similar to the traditional view of handguns can be created, printed and successfully test fired. It is easy to believe, that designs could also be created for fully functioning firearm that do not appear to resemble traditional firearms. These firearms could be disguised in objects like vases and would be extremely difficult to detect. While the same criticisms apply to current 3D printed firearm designs, the continued development of designs online show that this potential criminal use of this technology is not in the realms of science fiction.
The final postulated criminal use of this technology discussed is the sale and distribution of 3D printed firearms to individuals without access to a 3D printer. This could potentially be between individuals in the same country, as well as between individuals in different countries. This potential criminal use has been observed by Australia New South Wales police force on a website called Agora (Welch, 2014). Almost 50 lethal guns, from pistols to assault rifles, have been found on this website, including 3D printed firearms (Ibid). The liberator firearm designed by Defense Distributed was one of the firearms for sale on the website, with the seller advertising the plastic and easily disposable nature of the firearm (Ibid). This example found by New South Wales Police, shows that the potential criminal uses of 3D printers are being taken up by enterprising criminals eager to make money from the unintended consequences of 3D printers.
Summary, conclusions and postulations for the future

The aim of this research was to fully determine whether or not the concern regarding 3D printed firearms is justified and necessary, two countries with very different values in regards gun control were chosen to achieve this aim, namely the USA and the UK. Literary analysis was chosen to achieve this aim, as it allowed for the collection of large amount of literature and data from a variety of different perspectives, as well as the ability to perform cross cultural analysis.
The research has shown that while 3D printed firearms are in their infancy, they represent a serious problem for the future regulation of firearms while also presenting a multitude of new accessibility issues that differ notably to previously produced homemade firearms. 3D printed firearms have been shown to differ from traditionally produced homemade firearms in both minimum level of mechanical knowledge required and the level of standardisation in production quality (VICE, 2013) (DNews, 2013). The production of homemade firearms through the process of additive manufacture, allow different individuals through the download of an online design with the same of better printer to produce the same design to the same quality (Rimmer, 2012). Additive manufacture allows for the easy assembly of the chosen design, as all the different parts are made to the correct size and shape.
The continued development of 3D printable firearm designs has seen the original liberator design, improved, changed and reinvented. Some current designs online now claim to have semi-automatic fire functionality, with other designs advertising rifled barrels to improve accuracy (DEFCAD, 2013A) (Anthony, 2013) (DEFCAD, 2013C). As well as the diversification of designs online, the designs can also be said to have improved in reliability and consistency. The storage of 3D printable firearms online has also created new policing problems that historically have not been associated with homemade firearms. The design of 3D printed firearms and their download can now be considered in relation to intellectual property theft or ‘cyberpiracy’ of music, films, games and software over the internet (Wall, 2001). Policing of the internet is problematic and is fraught with lack of joined up inter-agency and international partnership working (Wall, 2001). The dissemination of 3D printable designs over the internet means that policing of 3D firearms is likely to become increasingly more difficult.
3D printed firearms also have been shown to create problems for the current regulation systems in the UK and the USA. The advent of 3D printable firearms and the accessibility and storage of their designs online, mean that both the UK’s and the USA’s firearm regulatory systems are in need of substantial reform to regulate the ownership of firearms once more.
Currently 3D printers are in use by a minority of hobbyists and enthusiast. However, the continuing reduction in price of 3D printers is allowing 3D printers to become more accessible to a greater proportion of the population in both the UK and the USA. It has been postulated by a number of different authors that this continued reduction in the cost of 3D printer will mean that 3D printers will likely be found in the majority of home in the near future (Birtchnell and Urry, 2013) (Murray, 2013) (Rimmer, 2012). As previously mentioned, it is illogical to assume that everyone with a 3D printer will produce 3D printed firearms; however, if nothing is done to modify legislation the increased use and availability of 3D printers will likely mean that it is only a matter of time before the first conviction of the criminal use of 3D printed firearm.
It has also been identified that 3D printers have the potential to radically improve the quality of homemade firearms, through increased standardisation due to additive manufacture and the continued improvement of accessible online designs. 3D printed firearm designs have increased in durability, accuracy and reliability since the development of the first 3D printed firearm, the Liberator. This development however has had further problems; the storage of these improved designs online means that any individual with access to a 3D printer and the internet also has access to these improved designs of 3D printable firearms. This group learning also means that improvements to designs can be made quicker as computer literate users have the ability to edit and improve designs at the same time (The Guardian, 2014) (Murray, 2013).
This research has also identified problems with current regulatory systems and with the online policing of 3D printable firearm designs. The current regulation systems in both the UK and the USA have been shown to be in need of revisiting, to fully embrace and deal with the new issues and problems associated with the production of 3D printed firearms and the storage of their designs online. This research also shows that the policing of 3D printable firearm designs online will be very problematic, as it can be considered in the same regard as the policing of copyright fraud. This is acknowledged by New South Wales Police Force, Police Commissioner who states in relation to the liberator design ‘these particular weapons are almost impossible to stop being sent electronically, these files are out there and they are in wide circulation’ (Andrew Scipione cited in Australia videos, 2013).
While, it can be acknowledged that currently 3D printed firearms don’t pose much cause for concern currently. The continued development of their designs and the regulatory issues shown by this research, suggests that 3D printed firearms and their component parts will become an increasing cause for concern as 3D printing increases in adoption and accessibility.

Postulations for the Future
3D printed firearms are exceedingly likely to have an increasing effect on both the UK and the USA. The increases in the adoption and financial accessibility of 3D printers are likely to further increase the unintended consequences of this technology. It is likely to only be a matter of time before 3D printed firearms, become synonymous with black market weapons, as the costs of 3D printers go down, 3D printers become easier to use and the effectiveness of designs online improve.
3D scanners also have the potential to increase in use, alongside 3D printers. 3D scanners scan physical objects and create useable and sharable design files that can be uploaded to websites like (Makerbot, 2014). However, like 3D printers, this technology can also used in unintended ways. Similarly to 3D Printers, there are no controls to what objects can and cannot be scanned. This opens up the possibility of unintended items being scanned and converted into a design files. An unintended example of this would be the duplication and dissemination of existing commercial firearms by a 3D scanner. 3D scanners give individuals without knowledge of how to produce designs files, the ability to re-print designs and disseminate design files, further reducing the barriers of entry to this technology.


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The Student Journal of Criminology Volume 1 No. 4


BY Stephen Carty

Once again another long hard fought out and won year is over in the university world. With highs and lows for all students, and the struggle of deadline days over and done with, it’s time to reflect and think of all who have graduated, and all who are about to start university later this year. Once again a fine selections of very good high quality strong academic work is on show in this edition of the journal. There are some repeats of topics, but all show a different light on the subject, which in my humble opinion, just reinforces the diversity of the academic world, although many will have been taught by the same lecturers, our daily lives themselves give way to the way in which we view the our world around us.

So, if you are leaving university, good luck and we wish you all the success in the world, and for those who are about to start university this year, WELCOME, please get ready to have your mind expanded, your world rocked, and 3 years of the most life changing experiences you will ever have.

Once again, a big, big, big, thank you to all of our Peer review team, to whom these high standards would not be maintained. And to all who have submitted. I hope you are happy with the result and feeling of being reviewed and published.

Mixed Media Case Study – Rwanda

By Jenna Thompson-Gilkes De Montfort University

The case study will focus on Rwanda and in particular the state crime, genocide, which took place in 1994. When discussing the State, Green and Ward (2004) applies a Marxist definition referring to a ‘public power’ obtaining authority to use force. The most serious crimes that occur in modern world are acts that a largely instigated, committed or condoned by governments and their officials, for example, war crimes and genocide. Previously criminologists had failed to consider the impact on crimes that may be directly linked to the actions of the state. State Crime may be defined as “state organisational deviance involving the violation of human rights” (Green and Ward 2004 p.2).

Even though there is the acceptance of basic Human Rights, there is evidence which shows that some governments have compromise these public statements in order to pursue their private goals and look towards ‘scapegoats’ to justify their actions. Organisational Deviance is an act of deviance where there is a social audience that “accepts a certain rule as a standard of behaviour, interprets the act as violating the rule and is disposed to apply significant sanctions to such violation” (Green and Ward 2004 p.4).

The definition of genocide is the subject of complex debate, Chalk and Johassohn (1990) and Levene (1994) state that genocide is the systematic mass killing of person based on their perceived membership of an ethnic or communal group, with the intention on either eliminating the group totally or eliminating whatever threat they perceive to pose (cited by Green and Ward 2004 p.166).

Conflict theorists believe that conflict of interests is at the very centre of human societies. Vold et al (2002: 228) views society as a “collection of groups held together in a dynamic equilibrium of opposing group interests and efforts”. There is a constant struggle by groups in society to maintain or improve their position in an enduring interaction and competition with other groups (ibid). The principle of social organisation is that groups are formed out of situations in which members have common interests and needs that can be best furthered through collective action (Vold 1973). New groups are continuously forming as new interests arise; existing groups disappear when they no longer serve a purpose (ibid). Groups often come into conflict with one another when their interests and purpose overlap, encroach on one another and become competitive. They must always be in the position to defend their group in order to preserve its place and position, the main goal is to keep from being replaced. Conflicts between groups have the tendency to develop and strengthen the loyalty of the group members to their respective groups (ibid).

The interests and needs of groups produce competition in the area of politics, in regards to preserving and/or increasing their position to others in obtaining the necessary resources such as money (Vold 2002). There is a need for all groups to control the state for their own interests; the group which is most effective in the control of political processes obtain the authorisation to sanction laws that in turn restrict the behaviour of other groups.



When looking at how the genocide happened, the ethnic violence begun after the shooting of the plane with Rwanda’s president Habiyarimana on April 6th 1994, this should be considered adjacent to a background of racial and socio-economic segregation and tension (Oomen 2006). Rwanda’s main population groups consist of Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. Although Hutu and Tutsi have different historical origins, they share the same language, religion and territorial space. In pre-colonisation times, the differentiation between the two was socio-economic. Even though there was potential for conflict existed long before colonisation from looking at the timeline (appendix 1) it is clear to see that the root of the genocide lies in the European colonisation of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. The colonial state drastically altered the norms of traditional Rwanda and had destroyed the mechanisms (Lemarchand 2004). Kuper (1981) argues that genocide tends to occur in ethically-stratified nation states. Inequality was inscribed in the differential treatment of the two main ethnic groups in Rwanda, the Belgians introduced a system of ethnic identity cards differentiating the two (Lemarchand 2004). There was speculation about the ‘Hamtic’ origins that suggested that Tutsis are seen as more European than Hutus (ibid).

The Arusha Accord was organised by the United States, France and the Organisation of African Unity; which set out five accords that was to be signed by the government of Rwanda and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to end the 3 year civil war. The Accords established a transitional government and military composing of both parties (Scorgie 2004).

The extremist Hutu regime in the 1990s, in the form of the Akazu played a role; they did not wish to share government with the Tutsi or moderate Hutus (F.S 1994). This saw the development of Hutu Power Ideology whereby some scholars believe that their genocidal ideology and massacre were an effort to keep hold of the political power that had gathered. The Hutu leaders were determined to retain power, rather than repairing the damage done by the colonisers, they in fact used Tutsis as a scapegoat for their political problems (Hintjens 1999). There was the creation of the Hutu Ten Commandments (appendix 2), Kangura magazine and the use of Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), which broadcasted a mixture of racist propaganda, obscene jokes and music which become very popular (Baisley 2014). Anti-Tutsi propaganda was used as a form of social control, to mobilise both men and women to participate in the genocide


This was also made possible because of plummeting coffee prices and the stringent Structural Adjustment Programme which was implemented by the Monetary Fund and the World Bank in developing countries (Green and Ward 2004 p.169). Urvin (2000) estimates that half the population in the 1980s and 1990s were too poor to feed themselves decently, overseas projects had increased inequality (cited by Green and Ward 2004 p.169). The economic crisis and Structural Adjustment, created a cohort of homeless, jobless, landless and unmarriageable young men, from which many on the genocidal militia groups were recruited (International Panel 2000).



As a consequence of the events of April 6th 1994, the genocide began hours after, which involved the Interahamwe and Rwandan Armed Forces killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Social control was also being used during the genocide; propaganda played an important role in both the genocide and the gender specific violence towards Tutsi women. The use of propaganda had been effective in the exploitation of gender. Systematic and planned rape was used to humiliate and terrorise women, girls, their families and communities (Human Rights Watch 1996). René Degni-Ségui estimated that in total between 250,000 and 500,000 rapes occurred. He elaborated further that rape and sexual violence was used during the genocide as military and political tools to target Tutsi female civilians (United Nations 1996). After the genocide, it was estimated that there were 10 Rwandan lawyers left in the country (Wilson 2011 p.375). Those who were elite, unless affiliated with the genocidal regime, were amongst the first victims. Once the genocide was over, Rwanda’s judges and lawyers had either been killed or fled. Consequently the legal system struggled to function effectively with a series of delays, mistakes and irregularities. This will be looked at further in the case study.



When researching current crime statistics, it was proving quite difficult to obtain this information, there were a number of websites that have been looked at, for example, the Rwanda National Police (RNP) website which does in fact talk about statistics nonetheless it has been hard to find solid data. A reason for this could be they may be reluctant to allow public access; additionally the levels of measurement they use of obtaining this information may not be sound. Nonetheless, data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2008) (UNODC) in regards to Rwanda was acquired in the formation of a victimisation survey (appendix 3). From the table at the household level, the highest frequent crime is burglary (5.8 per cent). In regards to personal crimes, the most prevalent is theft of personal property (5.1 per cent). UNODC (2011) homicide counts and rates have been identified at country level, Rwanda’s homicide count as of 2008 stands at 1,708 and their rates stands at 17.1. As result of restrictions to viewing certain information, there has not been the ability to obtain a true picture of homicide killings in relation to how many Hutus and Tutsis have been killed. This would give a better understanding in regards to whether the tension between the two ethnicities is still prevalent.

The information gathered in 2008 is the most recent statistic that could be found in relation to Rwanda.  In spite of this, the Rwandan Focus (2011) managed to attain 2011 crime statistics; stating that a number of crimes such as assault and gendered based violence has been reduced. When reading this information it is possible to have some scepticism as there could be an underlying motive such as Rwanda has been known to restrict free expression and widespread monitoring of emails and telephone communications (Privacy International 2012) with laws relating to the Interception of Communications (2008) which empowers intelligence services to read and listen to private communications. With increasing government restrictions on political space and individual freedoms, an example being 2009 media law which imposed a number of restrictions on collecting and reporting information, heavily dominated by pro-government views (Human Rights Watch 2010).


Criminal Justice System:

Pre-1994 the Rwandan justice system was inherited from Belgium, generally speaking the justice system did not function very well (International Crisis Group (ICG) 1999). This was mainly due to the lack of fully qualified magistrates and the dependence on the government. The period after the genocide saw the availability of human resources dramatically reduced in number. Even though the genocide was planned and led by a small group, it was committed by a huge number of people that were transformed into killers overnight (Schabas 2005). In an attempt to regulate the chaotic situation that was left behind as a consequence of the genocide, Parliament in 1966 passed the Organic Law (appendix 4). Corey (2004) stated that gradually, the judicial system has been restored; by early 2004 over 5,500 individuals had been tried (Wilson 2011 p.375). Nonetheless, despite the passing of the law in 1996 it was estimated that in Rwanda the formal judicial system would necessitate more than a century to judge the prisoners in custody (ibid).

5As a consequence of the overwhelming number of perpetrators in post-genocide Rwanda, a judicial response was pursued by three transitional justice processes, namely the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the National Genocide Trials (NGTs) and Gacaca courts (Apuuli 2009). Of the three transitional justice processes two will be looked at in greater detail. The priorities of the Rwandan government and the international community in post-genocide were to invest in numerous legal mechanisms ensuring that the ‘cycle of violence’ would be broken (Oomen 2006).


International Tribunal for Rwanda:

The Rwandan genocide and its aftermath offer many lessons for African leaders, particularly in relation to modern international criminal law that is dedicated to punish those responsible of terrible crimes. For example, the successful jurisprudence of the procedural process at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has vastly contributed to the development of modern international law (Apuuli 2009).

The ICTR was established by the United Nations Security Council on behalf of the ‘International community’ in order to fill the justice deficit post-genocide Rwanda faced, it was created in the shadow of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is an aspect of global policy transfer (ibid). The ICTR follows a procedure along the lines of the Anglo-Saxon legal tradition (ICG 1999). The creation on the ICTR was to punish serious violations of international humanitarian law that was committed in Rwanda (Wilson 2011). In many respects the ICTR created new developments in the province of international criminal justices and the promotion of human rights. The ICTR has jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide (ICG 1999). The ICTR has a mandate to prosecute persons responsible for committing genocide and serious violations of humanitarian law in Rwanda between 1st January and 31st December 1994 (Oomen 2006). Numerous landmark judgements were created including, the conviction of the Prime Minister Jean Kambanda in 1998 which was the first time a head of state had been committed for the crime of genocide, it was also the first to conclude that rape and sexual violence constituted to acts of genocide (Oomen 2006). Additionally, for the first time since the Nazis war crimes, journalists have testified in genocide trials (Kellow and Steeves 1998).

During the genocide, members of the international community failed to react for various reasons; the United Nations disregarded warnings from General Dallaire as routine and denied (Tiemessen 2004). This can be further supported by the YouTube clip titled “Rwanda Genocide Documentary” (CWN International 2012) from times 8:09 – 12:20.

Furthermore they denied using the term ‘genocide’, if this term was used the United Nations would be legally obliged to act (Responsibility to Protect n.d). Ironically, this member of the international community found accountability to be of primary importance to post-genocide reconciliation (Tiemessen 2004).

The ICTR has prevalence over the national courts of Rwanda giving them the ability to request defers in cases to it at any time during the proceedings and it may require for the full cooperation of Rwanda, for example, identifying and locating suspects (Dubois 1997). As of June 2002, there had been many successes made by the ICTR such as the indictment of 80 persons of whom 60 had been arrested and 20 remained at large (United Nations 2002). As the ICTR continues to prosecute those who orchestrated the genocide, it accomplishes its international responsibility. Nonetheless, the indifferences from Rwandan citizens and the resistance from the Rwandan government highlight its failures in its national purpose (Tiemessen 2004). The primary political dispute between the Rwandan government and the ICTR stems from the lack of intervention from the international community during the genocide. There were concerns with the time frame stipulated for ICTR prosecutions, as Rwanda’s objection was that the planning of the genocide began in 1990 therefore the ICTR is powerless to prosecute those individuals  involved prior to 1994 (ibid).

Rwanda advocated robustly for sentences to be served on its territory. However there was the view held by the ICTR the prisoners’ lives could be at risk in Rwanda (ICG 1999), there was a basic requirement to respect the minimal conditions set out by the United Nations in regards to the treatment of prisoners without relying on international assistance. Additionally, Rwanda opposed the decision of the ICTR not to provide for the death penalty which was one of the main obstacles preventing the transfer of detainees held by the ICTR or indicted suspects living abroad to Rwanda’s jurisdiction. Nonetheless, as of 2007 Rwanda abolished the death penalty (Amnesty International 2007).

The ICTR made attempts to inform Rwandans of the prosecutions and indictments from the trials, however Rwandans heard little of the proceedings with few having access to electronic or print media, relying on radio reports and rumours (Tiemessen 2004).


Gacaca Courts:

The ICTR has its own shortcomings, as accountability has taken the form of retributive justice which does not meet the societal needs of Rwanda to reduce ethnic tension and/or encourage healing processes (Tiemessen 2004). The Gacaca law was passed in January 2001, to deal with the overload of cases and a prison crisis (Wilson 2011). By 1998, there were roughly 130,000 genocide suspects were crammed into prison spaces that were intended to accommodate 12,000, subsequently there were inhuman conditions and claimed thousands of deaths (Human Rights Watch 2011 p.2).

2Gacaca courts are semi-traditional courts, which have been established to deal with the legal post-genocide Rwanda. The Gacaca was set up by the Rwandan government to respond to certain challenges Rwanda face (Oomen 2006). As a community based process, the Gacaca intended to “sanction the violation of rules that are shared by the community, with the sole objective of reconciliation” and the reintegration of genocide suspects back into the community (Organization for African Unity 2000 18.43). The sanctions passed vary from civil reparation to the death penalty, with a number of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. The table (appendix 5) presents an abbreviated overview of the crimes mentioned in the organic law, the courts that adjudicate them and the sentences that can be imposed.

There are expectations that regular citizens and the Rwandan government have about the Gacaca Justice System. Among these included truth-telling, establishing factual records of the events that occurred during the genocide (Oomen 2006). There was an emphasis on full confession, individual reconciliation involves the restoration of individual relations; prime actors in the judicial process include the wider society and individuals (Oomen 2006). The emphasis on the importance of confessing and apologising had resulted in the majority of prisoners making confessions. An important element after the confession involved serving half of the sentence in cases of, for example, murder in the of a community service. Community service involved mostly hard manual labour such as reforestation, there were the views that not only will it bring the accused back into society, rebuilding the country but it also contributes to the prisoners’ speedy reintegration. Nevertheless there were some criticisms in regards to the impact of community service; the present of murders within a community will massively impact the victims (ibid).

The Human Rights Watch observed over 2,000 days of Gacaca trials, interviewing hundreds of participants from number sides of the process and reviewed more than 350 cases. Numerous genocide survivors viewed the Gacaca as playing a positive role in their lives, giving them the ability to learn what happened to their loved ones helping them give their relatives ‘a proper burial’ (Human Rights Watch 2011). Almost all those interviewed felt that in comparison to conventional courts the Gacaca processed cases faster and it also reduced the prison population. Nonetheless, criticism and controversy surround the implementation of Gacaca courts Human rights groups are concerned with an extensive array of fair trial violations; these include witness intimidation and corruption by judges (Human Rights Watch 2011). There were many cases where potential witnesses failed to speak out in defence of genocide suspects as they feared complicity in ‘genocide ideology’.

In regards to reconciliation, several genocide survivors stated that they were now able to greet their neighbours those who had previously committed wrongs against them. Conversely, many felt as though these encounters were superficial and tensions remained high (Human Rights Watch 2011). There was also the view that some confessions lacked in details or were incomplete; these confessions were aimed at securing a release from prison. Those who received the confessions felt forced to forgive those who had wronged them. The government banned the terms ‘Hutu’ or ‘Tutsi’ in an attempt to alleviate ethnic tensions. All the same the Gacaca reinforced ethnic divisions by using alternative labels of ‘victim’ which is seen as Tutsis and ‘perpetrator’ which is seen as Hutus. Additionally, due to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) being the country’s ruling party since the genocide end, the government decided to exclude their jurisdiction crimes. This resulted in Hutus not being able to seek justices for crimes committed by the RPF (Human Rights Watch 2011).

From looking at appendix 6 it is clear that the Gacaca courts and the ICTR approaches are very different. The Gacaca courts have a sense of community as Rwandans participate as judge and jury of genocide suspects. Unlike those convicted by the ICTR, many Gacaca defendants are likely to be reintegrated into the community. In comparison, the ICTR is isolated from Rwanda in terms of its geography and impact resulting in very little effect on reconciliation within Rwandans communities (Tiemessen 2004). Additionally the range of participants widely extended in Gacaca, such as women who became greatly engaged in the trials and reconciliation process (ibid).


Universal Jurisdiction:

Universal jurisdiction allows for state or international organisations to prosecute those accused of serious human rights violations irrespective of where the alleged crime was committed (Amnesty International n.d). International entails countries that harbour genocide suspects must ensure that they do no abscond justice. Originally, those that were caught were transferred to the ICTR. Nonetheless, at the end of 2004 unless suspects found outside Rwanda were on the ICTR wanted list they could no longer be transferred to the Tribunal (African Rights and Redress 2008). To ensure justice, those harbouring suspects could either extradite the suspects to Rwanda or other countries that are willing to embark on an investigation on the crimes themselves or a prosecution on the basis of universal jurisdiction (ibid).

The Government of Rwanda, in recent years, has requested for States around the world to return suspects to Rwanda in order for them to be prosecuted. Nevertheless there are a number of issues and challenges, as there are few countries that have extradition agreements with Rwanda and few understand Rwanda’s legal and judicial system (ibid). International human rights such as Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which safeguards the right to a fair trial, have an influence on extradition. The state where the suspect resides can be held accountable for any human rights violation of the suspect’s rights in the state where the request was placed. As stated previously, the abolition of the death penalty in Rwanda was a huge step towards facilitating extraditions. In recent news, France’s highest court has blocked plans to extradite three genocide suspects (BBC News 2014). The court ruled that as a result of the alleged crimes being committed in 1994 the suspects could not be tried as before 1996 and 2004 genocide was not legally defined. Whilst there have been some attempts by Rwanda to amend their laws, there is still an existence of hesitation from countries to extradite genocide suspects to Rwanda.


From the 18th and 19th centuries Rwanda has faced numerous changes from colonisation to independence. Ethno-stratification was rife throughout the years which caused the conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis which manifested into the genocide of 1994. The effects of the genocide meant a collapse in the legal system; attempts have been made by the international community and the Rwandan government to correct this. The creation of the ICTR established numerous landmarks in regards to international criminal justice. Nonetheless, tension has arisen between the international community, the Rwandan government and Rwandans as their views on the best way to prosecute genocide suspects differ as there was, and still is, an overlaying of western perception of what’s right and wrong. There are culture differences as a result it can be seen as wrong to impose western views on a country whereby their legal system is different.


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Appendix 1 – Rwanda: A Historical Chronology (A timeline before the genocide)


1918 Under the League of Nations Rwanda and Burundi were to be governed by BelgiumHutu-Tutsi relationship – Class system; minority Tutsi (14%) are favoured over the Hutus (85%) and given privileges and western-style educationThe Belgians used the Tutsi minority to enforce their rule
1926 Belgians introduce a system of ethnic identity cards differentiating Hutus from Tutsis
1957 PARMEHUTU (Party for the Emancipation of the Hutus) is formed while Rwanda is still under Belgian rule
1959 Resentment grew; Hutus rebel against the Belgian colonial power and the Tutsi elite
1960 Hutus win municipal elections organized by Belgian colonial rulers
1961 – 62 Belgians withdraw – Rwanda and Burundi become two separate and independent countriesNew President, Gregoire KayibandaFighting continues
1967 Renewed massacres of Tutsis
1973 The army chief of staff, General Juvenal Habyarimana, seizes power, pledging to restore orderHe sets up a one-party stateEthnic quotas is entrenched in all public service employment, Tutsis are restricted to nine per cent of available jobs
1975 Habyarimana’s political party, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development  (MRND) is formed
1986 Formation of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi-dominated organisation – Aim to overthrow the Rwandan government and secure the right to return
1989 Coffee prices collapse, causing severe economic hardship in Rwanda
July 1990 Under pressure from Western aid donors, Habyarimana concedes the principle of multi-party democracy
1990 – 91 The Rwandan army begins to train and arm civilian militias known as interahamwe (“Those who stand together”)Establishment of a new multi-party constitution with power sharing
November 1992 Prominent Hutu activist Dr. Leon Mugusera appeals to Hutus to send the Tutsis “back to Ethiopia” via the rivers
August 1993 Habyarimana and the RPF sign the Arsuha peace accord that allows for the return of refugees and a coalition Hutu-RPF governmentU.N. troops are deployed in Kigali to oversee the implementation of the accord
September 1993 – March 1994 President Habyarimana stalls on setting up of power-sharing governmentTraining of militias intensifiesExtremist radio station, Radio Mille Collines, begins broadcasting exhortations to attack the Tutsis
April 6 1994 Habyarimana and the Burundian president are killed after their plane is shot down over Kigali, both the RPS and the Hutus (who opposed to the peace agreement) were suspectedRPF launches a major offensive; extremist Hutu militia and elements of the Rwandan military begin the systematic massacre of Tutsis



Appendix 2 – Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance (Hutu Ten Commandments)


1 Every Hutu male should know that Tutsi women, wherever they may be, are working in the pay of their Tutsi ethnic group. Consequently, any Hutu is a traitor who:

  • Marries a Tutsi woman;
  • Acquires a Tutsi concubine;
  • Makes a Tutsi woman his secretary or protégée.
2 Every Hutu male must know that our Hutu daughters are more dignified and conscientious in their role of woman, wife or mother. Are they not pretty, good secretaries and more honest!
3 Hutu women, be vigilant and make sure your husbands, brothers and sons see reason
4 All Hutus must know that all Tutsi are dishonest in their business. His aim is the supremacy of his ethnic group. As a result, any Hutu who does the following is a traitors:

  • Makes a partnership with Tutsi in business;
  • Invest his money or the government’s money in a Tutsi enterprise;
  • Lends of borrows from a Tutsi;
  • Gives favours to a Tutsi in business (obtain import licences, bank loans, constructions sites, public markets …)
5 All strategic positions, political, administrative, economic, military and security should be entrusted to Hutus
6 The education sector (school pupils, students, teachers) must be majority Hutu
7 The Rwandan Armed Forces should be exclusively Hutu. The experience of the October (1990) war has taught us a lesson. No member of the military shall marry a Tutsi
8 Hutus should stop having mercy on the Tutsi
9 Hutu, wherever they are, must have unity and solidarity, and be concerned with the fate of their Hutu brothersHutus inside and outside Rwanda must constantly look for friends and allies for the Hutu cause, starting with their Hutu brothers;They must constantly counteract the Tutsi propaganda;Hutus must be firm and vigilant against their common Tutsi enemy
10 The Social Revolution of 1959, the Referendum of 1961 and the Hutu ideology, must be taught to every Hutu at every level. Every Hutu must spread this ideology widely. Any Hutu who persecutes his Hutu brother for having reading , spread and taught this ideology is a traitor


Appendix 3 – Victimization Survey in Rwanda: Executive Summary (Rate of victimisation)


Types of crime Frequency Percentage
House hold crimes 302
  1. 4
Theft of car 0 0.0
Car hijacking 0 0
Theft from car 1 2.2
Car vandalism 1 2.2
Theft of motorcycle 0 0.0
Theft of bicycle 22 4.7
Theft of livestock 53 5.3
Burglary 121 5.8
Attempt burglary 52 2.5
Deliberate destruction of goods 43 2.0
Witnessing homicide 9 0.4
Crimes against the individual respondent 133
  1. 6
Robbery 5 0.2
Theft of personal property 108 5.1
Sexual offences 11 0.8
Assault/threat 9 0.4
  1. 0


Appendix 4 – Organic Law (Chapter II; Categorisation)

Article 2; persons accused genocide-related crimes or crimes against humanity, based on their acts of participation, are to be classified into one of the following categories:

Category 1 Criminals whose involvement placed them among the planners, instigators, supervisors and leaders of the crime of genocide, or of a crime against humanity, and persons who committed acts of sexual torture.
Category 2 Criminals whose participation placed them among perpetrators, conspirators or accomplices of international homicide, or of serious assault against the person, causing death.
Category 3 Persons whose criminal acts or whose acts of criminal participation made them guilty of other serious assaults against the person.
Category 4 Persons who committed offences against property.


Appendix 5 – Extracted from Traditional Justice and Reconciliation after Violent Conflict: Learning from African Experiences (Abbreviated Overview of Gacaca Courts)


(a) June 2004 – March 2007


  1. 1
  2. 2, 1st & 2nd
  3. 2, 3rd
  4. 3
Crime 1. Planners, organizers,supervisors, ringleaders2. Persons who occupiedpositions of leadership3. Well-known murderers

4. Torturers

5. Rapists

6. Persons who committed


1. ‘Ordinary killers’ inserious attacks2. Those whocommitted attacksin order to kill but

without attaining

this goal

3. Those whocommitted attacksagainst others,without theintention to kill Those whocommittedproperty offences
Court Ordinary court Sector Gacaca Sector Gacaca Cell Gacaca
Sentence Death penalty or life imprisonment 25–30 years 5–7 years Civil reparation
Without confession
Confession before appearance on the list of suspects 25–30 years 7–12 years* 1–3 years* Civil reparation
Confession after appearance on the list of suspects       25–30 years 12–15 years* 3–5 years* Civil reparation
Accessory sentence Perpetual and total loss ofcivil rights Permanent loss of a listed number of civil rights / /


* Commutation of half sentence to community service probation


(b) March 2007 onwards


  1. 1
  2. 2, 1st, 2nd & 3rd
  3. 2, 4th & 5th
  4. 2, 6th
  5. 3
Crime 1. Persons who occupied positions of leadership2. Rapists 1. Well-known murderers2. Torturers3. Persons who committed dehumanizing acts on a dead body 1. ‘Ordinary killers’ in serious attacks2. Those who committed attacks in order to kill but  without attaining this goal Those who committed attacks against others, without the intention to kill Those who committed property offences
Court Ordinary court Sector Gacaca Sector Gacaca Sector Gacaca Cell Gacaca
Sentence Death penalty or life imprisonment 30 years or lifeImprisonment 5–19 years 5–7 years* Civilreparation
Without confession
Confession before appearance on the list of suspects 20–24 years 20–24 years* 8–11 years* 1–2 years* Civilreparation
Confession after appearance on the list of suspects          25–30 years 25–29 years* 12–14 years* 3–4 years* Civilreparation
Accessory sentence Permanent loss of a listednumber of civil rights No confession:permanent loss -Confession: temporaryloss of a listednumber of civil rights No confession:permanent loss -Confession: temporaryloss of a listednumber of civil rights / /


* Commutation of half sentence to community service on probation; one-sixth of the sentence is suspended and one-third of the sentence is served in custody


Appendix 6 – After Arusha: Gacaca Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda


Norms of the ICTR:

Institutional Component  Prescribed Norm(s)
Justice Paradigm Retributive Justice
Goal Justice to end impunity; reconciliation is secondary
Venue Isolation from participants; avoid victors’ justice
Due Process  Primacy of rules and procedures; defendant’s rights
Establishing Guilt Judgement
Burden of Proof Testimony; investigation
Compensation for victims None
Judiciary Independent
Punishment Imprisonment; no death penalty
Process Trials


Norms of Gacaca:


Institutional Component Prescribed Norm(s)
Justice Paradigm Restorative Justice/Indigenous Tradition
Goal Justice for reconciliation; ending impunity is secondary
Venue Local communities
Due Process Primacy of truth telling
Establishing Guilt Confession; Community Consensus
Burden of Proof Testimony/Accusations
Compensation for victims Depends on nature of crime
Judiciary Respected community members
Punishment Imprisonment; reintegration
Process Trials; negotiation



Critically apply your knowledge and understanding of youth crime to the characters in the film ‘Ill Manors’, to offer explanations and understanding for their behaviour, circumstances and choices

By Nicolas Cutbill De Montfort University


Young people have always been seen as a problem within society, with a significant emphasis being placed on youth deviancy throughout recent history. A national survey conducted by Hough and Roberts (2004) shows a consensus in the perception of teenagers and their level of respect towards authority – that teenagers today are less respectful than teenagers 20 years ago. Additionally, with arrest statistics indicating that 13.6% of all arrests were of people aged 10-17, whilst only accounting for 10.8% of the population of offending age (Youth Justice Board, 2014a), it can be seen this is an area of crime which draws a certain degree of attention, both in practice and in academia.

The context of youth crime will form the basis for this assignment, which will follow the paths, behaviour and actions of two characters in the film: Aaron and Jake. In following their paths, their interactions with the environment, authority and others will be fully discussed, assessed and explained, in order to provide an in-depth view of their offending behaviour. Furthermore, their interaction with the youth justice system will also be discussed, identifying any repercussions, support or other help they may receive as a consequence of their situation and actions. Also, when applying their circumstances to the context of youth justice, theories, resulting policies, legislation, and practices of agencies will be used to help understand individual motivations for their actions and the responses from society and government agencies to these. For example, theories that will be assessed include biological, psychological, sociological, and ecological, referring to specific theories within these categories and applying them in order to provide explanations for behaviour. The extent to which these theories inform policy reforms and agency responses will also be highlighted, showing how Aaron and Jake are, or may be, dealt with in the criminal justice system based on how theories explain their actions. Finally, the discrimination of these individuals is a significant theme throughout Ill Manors (Drew, 2012), portraying the prejudicial treatment suffered by people in these circumstances on an everyday basis, both from authority and society in general. Resultant legislation and policies will show how, and to what extent, discrimination is being tackled within youth justice and how this affects the situations of the individuals. Therefore, their contact with the criminal justice and youth justice systems will be fully discussed, alongside any options or obstacles they may encounter, aiming to provide a solid understanding of their offending behaviour and how this could be prevented or changed in the future.


Many aspects exist in explaining the behaviour of Aaron in the film, with his associations, actions and decisions being indicative of certain theoretical and practical concepts. First and foremost, research indicates that there is a ‘peak age’ of offending, when young people are most likely to become an offender. For example, the Home Office (2006) identified that the prevalence of male offending peaked among 16-19 year olds. Though the age of Aaron is not completely clear, we can assume that he his towards the higher end of the peak offending age range, providing a basic explanation for his involvement in crime at his stage in life. Rutherford (1992) portrays this fact in a positive light however, indicating that a significant proportion of young people will ‘grow out of crime’, meaning that Aaron could cease engaging in criminal activity, providing he consciously makes the decision to desist from this point on. Building upon this, risk factor research, a part of developmental criminology, has also uncovered individual factors rooted in childhood which may cause a predisposition to offend (Farrington, 2007). Glueck and Glueck’s (1950) influential work on causal links between certain factors and juvenile delinquency identified physical, temperamental, psychological and socio-cultural differences between juvenile delinquents and non-delinquents. Within these categories, certain traits such as aggression, muscularity, intellect, and instability due to inadequate parenting in childhood, were shown to be heavily associated with juvenile delinquency. Furthermore, Farrington and Welsh (2007) also distinguish between individual, family, socio-economic, peer, school and community risk factors, providing further insight into the underlying causes of juvenile delinquency. Supported by a report from the Youth Justice Board (2005), these factors are seemingly the most prominent in predicting future offending behaviour, with particular emphasis on family, school and community factors being the most salient factors during childhood. Though showing results which are highly replicable in other longitudinal studies (Farrington and Loeber, 1999), this research has drawn varying degrees of criticism, both methodologically and theoretically. Farrington (2007) notes the complication surrounding the interrelation of risk factors, mentioning that young people living in deteriorated neighbourhoods often also tend to come from families with poor supervision and discipline. Linked to this is the uncertainty of a causal link between risk factors and offending, where Farrington (ibid.) also suggests that some factors may be seen as both causal and indicative, directly causing offending behaviour and indicating a risk of offending at the same time. Therefore, it can be hard to distinguish between what can be considered a risk factor for a young person, or what it is merely a part of their circumstances. Amdur (1989) provides further critique in the identification of risk factors, suggesting that certain variables taken into account in risk factor research can lead to tautological conclusions, thus over-estimating their predicative or explanatory power. Despite taking all of these factors into account, risk factor research is vital in explaining the behaviour of Aaron, with each of the factors breaking down to reveal further explanations for his delinquent activity.


In Aaron’s situation, a potential underlying cause and risk factor for his offending may involve parental influence on him during his childhood, namely a lack of suitable role models. Evident that he grew up in a single-parent household with his mother, due to no mention of a father figure during the film, it becomes clear that he was abandoned as a young child by his mother for his own safety (Drew, 2012). Kolvin et al. (1988) discovered the significance of parental attachment in offending, finding that boys who experienced separation in the first five years of their life were twice as likely to receive a conviction up to the age of 32. Therefore, Aaron’s separation from his mother and absence of a father figure are potentially a clear reason for his engagement in criminal activity at a young age. These theories of attachment derive from the early work of John Bowlby, whose psychodynamic theory of attachment lead to the term ‘maternal deprivation’ being used to explain the risk of future delinquency in young people (Bowlby, 1951). Hollin (2007) explains that this theory describes the emotional impact on a child separated from or rejected by their mother, potentially leading to persistent delinquency in childhood and later development. Ainsworth et al. (1978) break this idea of attachment down further, classifying certain behaviours differently when a child experiences detachment from their mother. Consequently, Aaron’s behaviour is particularly indicative of being in the category of ‘insecure-avoidant’ attachment (ibid.), shown by the fact that he refuses to open a letter addressed to him from his mother and given to him through his social worker, clearly displaying avoidant and detached emotional coping mechanisms (Belsky, 2002). Related to this is also Bandura’s theory of social learning, which suggests that behaviour is learned through vicarious reinforcement – observing others who are seen as role models (Bandura, 1977). As highlighted by Burgess and Akers (1966), who build upon Sutherland’s different association theory (Sutherland et al., 1995) and received acclaim from Hollin (1992) for their concept, criminal behaviour can be learned through operant conditioning within social and non-social interactions. Due to an absence of parental role models during childhood, it can be seen as natural for Aaron to turn to peers as role models in social situations. Throughout the film it seems as if he attaches himself to his childhood friend, Ed, learning from Ed as his mentee in the form of drug running and carrying out tasks on his command. Despite their applicability to Aaron, attachment theories can be seen as somewhat deterministic, suggesting that offending behaviour is influenced purely by factors outside of an individual’s control (Jeffrey, 1960), not taking into account Aaron’s own reasons for offending. The same can be said for using risk factors in general to understand juvenile delinquency, adhering to the concept of positivism and thus being seen as short-sighted due to the pathological assumption that individuals offend as a result of something going wrong in their lives (Tierney, 2010). However, these risk factors uncover many other explanations for Aaron’s behaviour, so their usefulness is not totally undermined.


To assess the responses by society and the criminal and youth justice systems to Aaron’s behaviour, it is necessary to consider the historical context behind youth justice provisions. Up until the 19th century, there was little divide between children and adults in society, which was reflected in crime and the responses to it. Newburn (2007) notes that the modern notion of ‘adolescence’ started to appear when Factory Acts limited working hours and compulsory education began. Davis (1990) also suggested that the first modern youth subcultures were developed by urban, working-class young people during this time. As a result, this divide between adults and children triggered the welfare of children to be carefully considered within criminal justice. With the introduction of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, it was established that courts should take the welfare of a child to be of paramount concern, still in force to this day and reinforced by the Children’s Act 1989 (Muncie, 2009). Further to this, the 1960s saw a rise in other welfare provisions related to young people, predominantly attributed to the Labour government at the time. For example, their vision majorly involved promoting a society based on improved employment, education, prosperity and welfare state, with the aim of overcoming social inequalities and eliminating a significant cause of young offending (Pitts, 1988). Therefore, the introduction of the 1968 White Paper ‘Children in Trouble’ brought in a shift towards more community-based measures, dealing with offenders through supervision, treatment and social welfare in the community instead of through punishment-based custodial systems (Home Office, 1968). This came in the form of attendance centres and detention centres being phased out to pave way for intermediate treatment schemes, offering care and guidance in community homes (Muncie, 2009). Additionally, it proposed a shift away from the input of magistrates in cases about appropriate treatment of young offenders, in favour of social workers and social service professionals (Morris and McIsaac, 1978). Though not fully enacted, the changes culminated in the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 aiming to increase the age of criminal responsibility to 14, where it was previously raised to 10 under the 1963 Children and Young Persons Act, among a selection of other changes outlined in the White Paper (Newburn, 2007). Bottoms (1974) looked upon its lack of full implementation as a positive matter though, with the initial White Paper attracting much criticism for being far too welfare-minded and permissive. Also, the plethora of welfare legislation meant that there was a greater willingness to encourage young people to go to court, where an assumption exists that the defendant would receive treatment and care after prosecution (Springhall, 1986). For these reasons, it can be seen that the welfare principle in the context of youth justice should be carefully balanced with justice, so as to avoid dragging young people into potentially stigmatising situations and intervening unnecessarily.


Contrary to the welfare aspect of youth justice, the 1997 New Labour government headed by Tony Blair introduced policy to circumvent “the traditional, Dickensian, overly complex, slow and expensive criminal justice procedures” (Morgan, 2009, p. 58). This was underpinned by the ‘Misspent youth’ report by the Audit Commission (1996) which essentially argued that the deterrent effect of law was being worn away, partly due to the overuse of cautions for young people (Morgan, 2009), and that the current system was not effective or efficient enough to successfully tackle factors around offending. Subsequently, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, introduced as a result from the ‘No More Excuses’ White Paper (Home Office, 1997), overhauled the existing system by streamlining youth justice, introducing Youth Offending Teams (YOTs), abolishing the concept of ‘doli incapax’ – the presumption that 10-13 year olds are incapable of criminal intent (Muncie, 2009) – and promoting the Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) agenda (Morgan, 2009). Reinforced by Labour’s ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ mantra, the introduction of these largely punitive measures was seen to be a reaction to Conservatives’ claims that New Labour was too ‘soft on crime’ (Downes and Morgan, 2009), with a shift being seen “from a position that was reasonably sympathetic to left realist thinking, to one that is much more comfortable with right realist theory” (Newburn, 2007, p. 269). Therefore, the true motivations behind these changes can be brought into question, though the introduction of a wide range of new resources and responses at the disposal of criminal justice agencies and practitioners can be seen as a very positive aspect for the cases of Aaron and Jake.


Within the remit of the New Labour policies, a new emphasis was placed on the early intervention and prevention of offending behaviour in young people, and this was outlined in s37 Crime and Disorder Act 1998 as one of the aims of the new Youth Justice System (Morgan and Newburn, 2007). Three main approaches have been identified which underline early intervention and prevention schemes. Hine and Williams (2007) state that these are: universal approaches affecting all children and young people; initiatives targeting specific factors of risk, and; interventions aimed at children and young people perceived to be at risk of offending. Despite the abundance of prevention strategies and programmes, these are most likely unavailable to Aaron due to his age, as well as the fact that he has already committed various offences, thus is past the stage of prevention. For example, Youth Inclusion Support Panels (YISPs), Youth Inclusion Programmes (YIPs), Positive Activities for Young People (PAYP), and Safer Schools Partnerships (SSPs) are mainly aimed at those between the ages of 8-17 (Morgan and Newburn, 2007), so these are not available to Aaron and he will require interventions tailored to more severe offences and older young offenders. According to guidelines published by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Aaron’s offences, which include the supply of Class B drugs (cannabis) and possession of an offensive weapon (a pistol), mean that he would most likely be subject to community sentences and, at worst, lower level custodial sentences (CPS, 2012; 2014). Though he was careful to conceal his participation in these offences, should he be caught, arrested by the police and prosecuted by the CPS, he would be likely to receive a Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO), a generic order introduced under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 to replace previous community sentences available (Case and Haines, 2009). Utilising a ‘Scaled Approach’ and the risk assessment tool ‘Asset’, it allows YOT practitioners to tailor interventions to the level of risk of reoffending (Youth Justice Board, 2010), reflecting the principle of ‘risk classification’ – matching more intensive interventions to those deemed more at risk (McGuire, 1995). The YRO may incorporate several requirements for Aaron to complete, such as drug treatment, education, or supervision (Youth Justice Board, 2012), thus ensuring that his behaviour is actively prevented or dealt with from that point on. Though suitable for Aaron, taking this approach may not be as worthwhile as expected, in part due to the fact that he has already previously worked under the close supervision of a social worker. More specific to these types of risk-based interventions though are concerns that have been raised which highlight that using the Scaled Approach may cause a minimal intervention to be chosen for a relatively serious offender, purely because of the outcome of the risk assessment (Case and Haines, 2009). Therefore, ensuring that the correct intervention is given to Aaron under a YRO is key, otherwise it could do little to reduce his future offending behaviour.


Should Aaron receive a more severe and custodial sentence, the only option will be for him to be held in custody at a Young Offender Institution (YOI), as it is most likely that he is over the maximum age of 17 for other custodial measures in the ‘juvenile secure estate’ (Bateman, 2005). Though custodial sentences are synonymous with punitiveness, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) insists that YOIs should have a caring and structured environment, so that the safety and security of juvenile offenders is maintained at all times (Muncie, 2009). However, for all the education and care that is provided in YOIs, concerns have been raised over the past decade which could undermine the rehabilitation of offenders such as Aaron. Included in these concerns are the issues of endemic bullying; humiliation; racism; invasion of privacy; deprivation of fresh air and exercise; poor diet; insufficient opportunities to contact family, and; inadequate educational and rehabilitative provision (CRAE, 2002, as cited by Muncie, 2009). Though the report which raised these issues is over ten years old, these failings have been substantiated in a more up-to-date report, whilst also highlighting the overuse of restraints and strip-searching in inmates, introducing reforms to combat these (CRAE, 2013). It is also very likely that Aaron would serve time at Feltham YOI, due to its proximity to Aaron’s location, which has been cited as ”one of the worst prisons in the system, with “Dickensian” conditions, racism and violence” (, 2014). Coupling this with a very high rate of reconviction (Muncie, 2009), a custodial sentence in a YOI may not be a suitable option for Aaron as it could lead to institutionalisation and the amplification of his offending behaviour, regardless of the remorse he showed towards his actions and his willingness to reform. Taking this information into account, it is therefore fair to say that a community sentence would be more suitable for him, as he is more likely to respond well to the requirements of a YRO.


Jake’s behaviour can be seen to have stemmed from a similar set of circumstances to Aaron. Perhaps achieving low attainment and high levels of truancy at school, a risk factor identified by Farrington and Welsh (2007), Jake can be seen to turn to other delinquent peers in order to achieve the peer status and material goals that he desires. Conforming to Merton’s ‘strain theory’, he uses illegitimate means to obtain the illegitimate goals (Merton, 1968), which incorporates the acquisition and consumption of drugs and alcohol, using violent and deviant means to achieve this. Though this conforms to the sub-category of ‘rebellion’, his higher goals reveal that he aims to use drugs and alcohol to achieve the legitimate goals of gaining material possessions, wealth, and peer status, as identified by the category of ‘innovation’ (ibid.). Due to a perceived overlap in categories of ‘strain’, Jake’s association to other established delinquents means that he has fallen into a subculture, or gang, that follow the concepts of both ‘criminal’ and ‘conflict’ subcultures, as defined by Cloward and Ohlin (1960). They argue that these appear in places with high levels of social disorganisation, specifically in the ‘zone of transition’ within a city (Burgess, 1925), truancy and families on welfare (Shaw and McKay, 1942), using violence and ‘elders’ as role models (Pitts, 2007) for illegitimate gains. Similarly, the degeneration of the circle estate where Jake is based provides a foundation for crime committed by the gangs in that area, with Wilson and Kelling (1982) noting that a failure by authorities to deal with minor matters within a neighbourhood leads to more serious offences being committed. Despite these potential explanations for Jake’s choices challenging the concept of individual positivism, this theory of ecology can be seen as somewhat deterministic in holding that Jake has turned to crime for influences beyond his own control (Muncie, 2009). Matza (1964) argues to the contrary though, suggesting that offenders use ‘techniques of neutralisation’ to justify their behaviour and choices, which could be very likely as Jake may argue he is following the orders of Marcel, the ‘elder’ of the gang. Heidensohn (1989) also suggests that subcultural explanations for offending behaviour are short-sighted for focusing on the concept of ‘anomie’, despite finding that delinquent youth share the value system of adults and the middle-class. These explanations can also be applicable to Aaron’s case, being in a similar position within his own subculture, running drugs and using violence for illegitimate gains within the circle estate.


A range of options are available to tackle or prevent Jake’s offending behaviour. At first glance, Jake’s anti-social behaviour during his initiation and subsequent spree involving partying, underage sex and consumption of drugs and alcohol, could be fitting behaviour for receiving an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO). With 45% of ASBOs being applied to children and young people (Morgan, 2006, as cited by Morgan, 2009), this controversial measure may lead to the stigmatisation of Jake and do more harm than good for him. Therefore, he is more suited to YIPs, a multi-agency response involving YOTs, police, and other social services, providing young people with positive role models and a safe place to engage with education, activities and skills-based workshops (YJB, 2014b). Twinned with YISPs, which also provides a multi-agency, risk-based intervention to anti-social behaviour (YJB, 2014c), Jake has viable and potentially effective alternatives to drifting into gang culture, with the utilisation of the ‘Onset’ tool aiming to address risk factors before they are able to develop into offending behaviour (Case and Haines, 2009). An evaluation by Walker et al. (2007) highlighted the positive nature of YISPs, with the majority of parents interviewed stating improvements in all risk factor domains studied, such as improvements in truancy rates, anti-social behaviour, attitudes and behaviour. Similar improvements can be seen where YIPs have also been deployed in deprived communities, showing a 66.5% average reduction in re-offending of the young people engaged (YJB, 2008), though a huge increase of 51% in unauthorised truancy rates was identified in a study 5 years previously (Morgan Harris Burrows, 2003), so conclusions regarding its effectiveness can be fairly inconsistent.


At the opposite end of the spectrum of youth justice responses, custodial sentences would be seen as options for the major offences committed by Jake, even at his young age. For example, the double murder he committed before he died would be worthy of receiving a custodial sentence under s90 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 – a sentence only suitable for murder and is the equivalent of a mandatory life sentence in an adult case (Bateman and Pitts, 2005). It is most likely that this sentence would be served within a privately managed Secure Training Centre (STC), due to the grave nature of the crime, whereas a Local Authority Secure Children’s Home (LASCH) would be used more on welfare grounds, as opposed to punitive or public protection grounds (ibid.). Hagell, Hazel and Shaw (2000) assessed the effectiveness of one particular STC in addressing the cycle of offending, but could not conclude that it successfully prevented young people from re-offending after release, with a number also breaching conditions to the community part of their sentence. For Jake though, his time at the STC would be relatively long, allowing more time for practitioners to work on his behaviour, also remaining on licence for the rest of his life (Bateman and Pitts, 2005).


A common theme throughout the film is the discrimination of certain individuals and groups by criminal justice authorities. Specifically, the actions of police towards Aaron based on racial and class prejudice. At one point early in the film, the police aimed to stop and search Aaron, without reasonable grounds for suspicion. Later on in the film, Aaron was not stopped and searched because he was pushing a baby in a pram, revealing that the previous attempt to stop and search him was founded upon racism and the way he dressed. This practice is backed up by statistics, with Asian people being twice as likely to be stopped and searched by police as white people (Home Office, 2005). Chris, the leader of the gang Jake became involved with, also got stopped by police on dubious ground towards the end of the film, with police mentioning a ‘dodgy looking front wheel’ as the reason for stopping him (Drew, 2012). It can be also seen that this stop and search was based on racial prejudice from police officers involved, reinforced by Townsend (2012) who reports that black people are 30 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. These examples of racial discrimination lead to the unsubstantiated labelling of certain ethnicities and classes, creating moral panics and deviancy amplification in communities (Cohen, 2002), similar to that seen in the ‘mugging crisis’ of the 1970s (Hall et al., 1978), and undermining effective practice by youth justice practitioners.


For Aaron and Jake, the effectiveness of responses and measures available to them as a result of the explanations of their behaviour are variable, though offering a particularly wide range of options. Despite this, the explanations of their behaviour incorporate many different aspects, making it hard to pinpoint the exact motivations behind their offending, increasing the difficulty for the youth justice system to tailor a proportionate response. Additionally, the discriminatory and exclusionary features of many of the schemes and practices have a significant bearing on their availability and success rates. As a consequence, the discrimination suffered by Aaron is evidence of him becoming victimised by the criminal justice system itself, harming the work of decades of policy and legislative developments. Further to this, with the advent of using risk-based research to determine the likelihood of offending behaviour and apportioning adequate preventions and interventions to this, it leaves the concept of criminality open to social construction, due to society allowing the perception of different risk factors to shape their understanding of young offenders. In turn, to some extent this has a knock-on effect on government policies and the way politicians view young offenders, enabling political rhetoric to be guided by the view of society at that point in time. Regardless, the streamlined nature of the modern youth justice system has meant that understanding and dealing with cases such as Aaron’s and Jake’s is much more efficient, reliable and effective, and this is a result of consistent improvements in youth justice provisions over the years and ongoing evaluation of the success of practices, tools and schemes. The future for the welfare and punishment of young people is therefore bright, pitching the ever-changing views of society against the backdrop of political and academic influence to achieve a holistic youth justice system, incorporating and accounting for the diverse and complex nature of offending in young people and ultimately giving offenders like Aaron and Jake a second chance to an established, productive life in society.



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A Dissertation presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the BA (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice degree.



Lauren Davies

De Montfort University



Description                                                                                     page number

Acknowledgements                                                                        p.3




Chapter 1: Historical Context

Chapter 2: Recent Legislation & Policy development

Chapter 3: Mental Health care in custody & special hospitals

Chaper 4: Summary of current diversion practice


Reference list



To my parents, Tina and Chris, for always telling me that anything was possible if I put my mind to it, and for being the most inspirational, hardworking and supportive parents in the world.



This thesis aims to provide a critical evaluative discussion of the current diversion process that is adopted within the UK Criminal Justice System.  A substantial amount of research has already been published in this field. However, all of the research that has been sourced and included in this piece is largely specific in its aims and therefore has a narrow focus. It is for this reason that this literature based dissertation will compare and evaluate research published on all aspects of the diversion process; prison healthcare, the requirements of mentally disordered offenders, the purpose of the special hospital, and the diversion transfer process itself. The evaluation of such sources will enable this thesis to publish a comprehensive critical discussion and review of the diversion process as a whole, which is where a gap in research appears to date.

This thesis includes research publications which have used both qualitative and quantitative methods, and this has allowed for an in-depth and cohesive analysis of the diversion process, and the treatment of mentally disordered offenders in the UK.

What the research included in this thesis has demonstrated seems clear, in that diversion is undoubtedly the most appropriate treatment for mentally disordered offenders, and that the process in place is consistent. However, the effectiveness of the diversion process can be questioned with regards to how it is completed in practice. The research in this thesis has repeatedly highlighted failures in the diversion process, which are largely a result of the amalgamation of processes and aims of the agencies which are involved. To conclude, what this demonstrates is that a substantial amount of research is still needed before the appropriate improvements can be made to the diversion process, and that the mixed institutional approach towards the management of such a process needs to be reconsidered.



This thesis will critically evaluate the current diversion process for mentally disordered offenders (MDO’s) within the UK Criminal Justice System. Analysis will include primarily discussing the historical background that provoked the development and implementation of the diversion process. Historical context given in the first chapter will provide an understanding of the diversion process, and explain why mentally disordered offenders are awarded differential treatment by the justice system. Original legislation which developed the diversion process will be critiqued, and the possible strengths, weaknesses and discriminations of such legislation will be identified. With this in mind, more recent legislation that has continued and shaped the process of diversion will be evaluated. Factors such as effectiveness, sustainability and how, if at all, mentally disordered offenders benefit from provisions established under these statutory pieces will be of particular focus.

Any possible discrimination and inequality within the current diversion system will also be identified; this is particularly relevant to the recent introduction of the Dangerous Severe Personality Disorder diagnosis. The group known as DSPD offenders has in recent years become central to public anxiety and Government debates around the dangerousness and risk posed by this group (Canton, in Green et al 2008). Therefore this piece will also examine the noticeable relationship between the public, the media, theory, policy and practice in an attempt to provide an explanation of the increase in Government interest and investment in this area.

Prison health care services, and the purpose and usage of special hospitals will also be evaluated in this thesis. Comparisons will be made between the standard and effectiveness of prison health care services, and wider public NHS services as this comparison has been repeatedly made in recent years by several academics, and Government reports (Home Office 1996; Department of Health 2009). This is relevant to the thesis title because if prison healthcare is illustrated as inadequate, this suggests that diversion truly is the only appropriate option for the majority of offenders. However, the issue of an offender’s ‘dangerousness’, and where the appropriate place for detention is, is often debated between the agencies involved in the diversion process.

For the most dangerous of mentally disordered offenders, special hospitals are seen as the appropriate accommodation (Bailey and Macculloch 1992). Special hospitals are where treatment is given under a high or medium secure setting, similar to the restrictions and safeguards of a prison environment. The effectiveness of special hospitals will also be discussed with relevance to reoffending rates, as this is one of the few factors that success of these environments can be measured by.

Finally, after all of the above information is discussed, the final chapter and conclusion of this thesis will provide a conclusive and condensed evaluation of the previous material. In doing so, a response to the title and a cohesive overview of the entire diversion process will be formed, and therefore subsequent recommendations which may benefit future practice, if any, can be made.

This dissertation piece explores varying historical and modern ideologies and research into the disposal of mentally disordered offenders, within both the Criminal Justice System and healthcare system, provided by both the National Health Service and various private organisations. Therefore, because ethical clearance is required to conduct research in such private and isolated environments, this piece is a literature based-dissertation as opposed to a dissertation based on primary research.

The search for appropriate literature started during the summer of 2013 with a narrative search of all accessible academic materials, which included searching for government publications and academic journals in the archives on various publishers’ websites, such as the Taylor and Francis website. Aveyard 2007 explains that an initial literature search provides academics with a foundation of all published information on a topic, upon which they can then systematically review, and critically analyse both the relevance, and also the validity of each source.

Bryman 2012 discusses the differences between narrative and systematic literature reviews, concluding that narrative reviews allow a reader to access a wide scope of information on a chosen topic, and therefore have an informed opinion on the topic as a whole. Systematic reviews, on the other hand, are described by Bryman as a more evolved and selective search, where literature is studied much more in depth.

This process of appraisal therefore led to the dismissal of irrelevant research sources, and provided me with dissertation appropriate research, and in addition the specific criteria and search terms upon which I could find additional literature through a more direct systematic search. The search terms and criteria that I subsequently used are listed below:

Keywords from journals: prisoner, patient, mental health, mental healthcare, mental health knowledge, forensic mental health, prison, mentally disordered offenders, diversion, crime mental illness.

Whilst reviewing literature from research journals and government publications has been invaluable in informing my dissertation piece, and specifically the chapters on current available disposals of mentally disordered offenders, the development of diversion schemes is also integral to this piece. Therefore, my search for literature needed to also focus on books of all ages to provide me with references upon which to discuss and critique the treatment of individuals with mental illnesses throughout history, and how this has paved the way for the systems we have in place today. For this literature search I used the above techniques once again; using a narrative search to outline important information and historical events, and then systematically selecting which publications were the most credible and informative. The systematic search and analysis of various publications here also provided me with an extended set of search criteria, which I could use if further analysis was needed. These are listed below:

Keywords from books: insanity, criminal, dangerous, dangerousness, detention, mentally ill, forensic psychology, disposal, rehabilitation, mental health services, responsibility, culpability, diminished, meta-responsibility, criminals mental health.

Each research journal that is referenced in this dissertation piece is in itself unique; characterised by the differences in the sampling method, participants or demographic and size. Each piece of research is also original because of the sampling methods which are used to both collect and analyse the retrieved data. Two sampling methods that are used in the research included in this dissertation are Quantitative and Qualitative sampling.

Swift, in Sapsford and Jupp, 2006 defines Quantitative data as information which is recorded in numerical form, and states that a benefit of using Quantitative sampling is that it is easy to analyse and compare to other research, and also cannot be misinterpreted. Sapsford and Jupp, 2006 (p.9) provide a justification for the usage of quantitative data sampling, “In order to cover large numbers of cases, it is generally necessary to degrade information to numbers … or to collect what data can readily be counted”. Quantitative sampling is relevant to this piece as some of the included academic materials have used Quantitative methods of data collection, which has therefore enabled this piece to make comparisons between, and conclusions based on the research. Examples of quantitative data analysed in this piece are figures which demonstrate the annual usage of a specific hospital order, in Chapter 2, and figures which show the gender demographic of a hospital population, as used in Chapter 4.

Alternatively, Qualitative data, is the collection of descriptive data that is characterised by the recording of people’s perspectives and feelings, as opposed to a comparison of statistics. Noaks and Wincup 2004 (p.11) explain the application of qualitative data to criminology; “The use of qualitative techniques offer the opportunity to make a distinct contribution by elucidating the contexts in which offending takes place and the meanings attached to such behaviour.”  Qualitative research data has too been evaluated in this thesis in order to provide a more detailed insight into diversion schemes, than that provided by statistical data. An example of which is the use of participant interviews, with both patient and staff members, in Chapter 4.

Each type of data has its own strengths and limitations, and it is obvious from the information above why researchers can decide which method of data collection would be applicable, and why it would be beneficial to their specific piece of work. Crow and Semmens 2006 (p.218) argue that it is not necessary for researchers to choose one method alone, and that combining the two types of data can also be beneficial to research, because quantitative data allows for a wider sample to be reached, and therefore enables the researcher to make a well informed generalisation, whereas qualitative data can explain the research findings in detail. This technique has also been used by some of the research that is explored in this piece, such as a research study in Chapter 4 which bases its conclusions about the length of the diversion period, on both interviews and statistics.


Chapter 1
Historical context

“not all mentally disordered persons are dangerous, and not all dangerous persons are mentally disordered.” (Prins, 1986, p. 3)

This first chapter will introduce the process of diversion of the mentally disordered offender, through a discussion of its historical development and any factors which led to this process being implemented in the UK criminal justice system. The portrayal of individuals with a mental illness throughout the 19th century onwards will also be discussed, as this may have had implications on the treatment and disposal of offenders with mental health conditions. This background information is relevant to the thesis title as it provides an understanding as to why diversion is seen as beneficial, and necessary in our modern society, and in previous years.

The appropriate treatment of mentally disordered persons in the United Kingdom throughout history has always been a controversial issue. Many authors (Parry-Jones 1972; Barham 1992; Melling and Forsythe 1999) have documented the various ideologies and policies which both dictated and justified the authorities’ response to this particular group within society during the 19th century. These authors agree that the first significant policies to make provisions for people with Mental Health illnesses, or Lunacy as it was known at the time, can be seen in the implementation of the 1808 County Asylums Act; which suggested that mental institutions or asylums were a better corrective alternative to the previous workhouses, and were open to any individual whom the local parish saw as unfit to remain in the wider community. The Mental Health Foundation details subsequent pieces of legislation that followed, stating that the later 1845 Lunacy and County Asylums Acts made the construction of asylums a compulsory requirement for all regional, and local governmental bodies.

Barnes and Bowl 2001, citing the work of Prior (1993), conclude that the purpose of asylums was not just to house and possibly correct the ‘mad’ and ‘bad’ but also to protect the rest of society from the threat of these individuals destructive beliefs and behaviours, and therefore preserve society’s norms.

It must also be noted that individuals who perpetrated crime were included in this dysfunctional section of society that was demonized and therefore segregated and housed in asylums. However, in recent years the appropriate responses to, and the requirements of mentally disordered offenders have proven to be far more complex than the responses that were, and are still in place for the majority of those with mental illnesses, whom do not turn to criminality.

 Busfield, in Buchanan 2002 writes about the use of asylums throughout the 19th and 20th centuries; “The detention of lunatics considered dangerous was one important justification for the establishment of asylums …along with optimistic assumptions about the therapeutic potential of asylum care”. This quote is significant as it provides a potential explanation as to why asylums became an integral tool for authorities to maintain societal control in these years. Additionally, this quote has the potential to explain the long-term continuous use of the asylum in the UK. Busfield continues, explaining the difficulty in how to respond to offenders who are considered to be dangerous because of a mental illness or disorder. The author states that the abolition of asylums was frequently attributed as a cause of violence in the community in the years after their closure, and that this has led to the development of both secure community mental health care institutions, as well as a controversial a rise in the use of imprisonment.

Prins (1986), provides information on key historical developments relating specifically to the treatment of and the justification of diversion for mentally disordered offenders. Prins also outlines various definitions of mental illness that were set when the issue of criminal responsibility was only young in its involvement in criminal law.

The first significant definition of Insanity or Mental Illness which was severe enough to warrant an individual’s exemption from punitive disposals, that Prins discusses, was the implementation of the M’Naghten Rules following the trial of Daniel M’Naghten in 1843. Prins quotes the work of Walker (1986), writing that all individuals were held to be responsible for their crimes unless it could be adequately proven that they had a mental illness or deficiency at the time of the offence, and that the severity of the illness prevented them from knowing that the offence was wrong.

However, Prins (1986) has observed that since its introduction, the M’Naghten test of insanity has come under a great deal of scrutiny, with its failures recognised as early as 1975. In this year the Butler Committee on Mentally Abnormal Offenders ruled that the verdict of an Insanity Defence was only permitted if there was evidence confirming that the defendant had a severe mental illness, and that the illness definitely caused the individual to commit the offence in question.

Whitlock (1963) provides an earlier criticism of the M’Naghten test, concluding that its definition of Insanity, and therefore the mental illnesses which constitute it, is highly restrictive; and only includes those illnesses which cause cognitive distortion or impairment. Whitlock explains further, writing that the M’Naghten rules have a limited consideration of other resulting aspects of an illness, such as how an individual’s personality, emotions, and morals are affected.

This notion of ‘insanity as a defence’, that the M’Naghten rules fall into is just one of the three criteria under which an individual can be acquitted from punishment, and instead diverted to treatment within a mental health care setting; the other two rulings being the concepts of Unfitness to plead, and Diminished Responsibility.

The Criminal Procedure (Insanity and Unfitness to Plead) Act 1991 introduced the ‘unfitness to plead’ or ‘under disability’ verdict. Section 3 of the Act rules that when there is evidence that an individual has a severe disability, courts can either issue a hospital order where the individual will be indefinitely held in a treatment setting. Or, alternatively a community based order can be sanctioned if any are suitable, such as; a guardianship order or a supervision and treatment order.

Prins (2010) details that the ‘unfitness to plead’ or ‘under disability’ verdict can only be issued if the defendant is severely affected by a disability, which would specifically prevent them from understanding any criminal accusations against them, and inhibit them from providing evidence in their defence. It is for this reason that Prins concludes that the usage of the under disability judgement is currently minimal. Prins (2010) also explains that a ruling of ‘diminished responsibility’ is once again used in few cases, since under UK legislation it is only applicable to a charge of murder, which as a result of the diminished responsibility defence is therefore reduced to a charge of manslaughter. The Homicide Act 1957 first implemented this defence, stating that an individual will not be convicted of murder if there is evidence that he/she has “such abnormality of mind as substantially impaired his mental responsibility for his acts” (Homicide Act 1957, Part 1, Section 2).

Mitchell (2003) provides a criticism of the various insanity defences that are currently available to mentally disordered offenders. The author acknowledges that our Justice system makes considerable effective provisions for those who are suffering from a mental illness, and are therefore not seen as culpable for their actions. However, Mitchell raises questions surrounding just how understanding and ethical the various mental health care disposals for offenders are. The main criticism the author introduces is the theory of ‘Meta-Responsibility’ which suggests that individuals, even those acquitted of criminal charges, are still held somewhat responsible for their actions, due to a belief that they have either consciously or unknowingly worsened their illness.

Mitchell 2003 (p.80) states that “punishment of the mentally disordered, in spite of their special legal status, has long occurred both covertly and overtly.” Mitchell (2003) cites the work of Grounds (1990) who concludes that the diversion of offenders is dictated by not only the need to provide an individual with treatment, but equally to defend the public. Mitchell (2003) also discusses research by Dell and Robertson (1988) who found in their study of Broadmoor Hospital, that individuals were sentenced proportionately to the offence they had committed, with little room for alteration due to their health needs. Mitchell (p.83) concludes that “the insanity acquittee cannot escape association with his or her crime in spite of being found not guilty of that crime.” This suggests that even offenders who are diverted are still to some extent, punished for their offences, and therefore diversion cannot be seen as complete exemption from punishment.

Furthermore, Mitchell (2003) continues his criticism of the various insanity defences, suggesting that our Criminal Justice System is somewhat ‘Sanist’ or discriminatory towards individuals with Mental Illnesses. Mitchell (p.x) describes Sanism as; “(a process akin to racism and sexism) engenders such phenomena as incarceration for periods far longer than therapeutic concerns can justify as a ‘punishment’ for a successful insanity plea.”

This chapter has provided the thesis with a historical context upon which current diversion schemes can be evaluated. The principles of diversion and the justifications for it are clear, however what the rest of this thesis will critique is just how disconnected diversion and treatment programmes are from the criminal justice, and punishment, process.


Chapter 2
Recent Legislation & Policy development

“Formal care and treatment of a patient with mental disorder will inevitably restrict his or her personal freedoms but should only do so to the extent justified by any risk that they pose to themselves or to other people.” (Reforming The Mental Health Act Part I, Department of Health, 2001, p.16)


This chapter will explain recent mental health legislation which relates specifically to the criminal justice process, and in particular, the diversion of mentally disordered offenders. This discussion is an important part of the thesis as it will provide an explanation of more recent legislative framework, upon which the diversion process that is currently in practice can be evaluated. The development of the ‘DSPD’; Dangerous Severe Personality Disorder category will also be discussed, along with its implications for both public opinion, and as a result, policy. The discussion of such a group of mentally disordered offenders is important to this thesis, as it provides an insight into the large and ever-growing requirements of the mentally disordered offender, and therefore a chance to evaluate in-depth how effective Government, justice, and healthcare responses are in practice for the individuals concerned.


The 1983 Mental Health Act and the later amendments in 2007 are a vital part of recent legislation that determines how UK practitioners from all sectors and agencies interact with and provide for individuals with mental health illnesses. These legislative statutes were introduced with the intention of facilitating improvements in the mental health care field, which would benefit wider society, as well as those individuals and service users who do have a Mental Illness (Robertson and Barnes, in Chaplin et al 2009).


The 1983 Act both confirmed and introduced numerous provisions for the treatment of individuals with mental health illnesses, however, since the focus of this thesis is on the development of healthcare for offenders, this section will focus solely on the statutory pieces which relate specifically to their treatment and diversion away from the Criminal Justice System.


The first policy that this piece will highlight is ‘Remand of accused person to hospital for treatment’, which forms Section 36 of the Mental Health Act (1983). Under this section it is stated that the Crown Court can divert an individual to spend their remand period in hospital, if there is sufficient evidence, from multiple qualified psychologists, of a severe mental illness and that treatment would benefit the individual. S36 only applies to remand prisoners, and is only temporary measure, but can be extended if necessary. Dolan and Powell (2001) write that an offender on remand is only suitable for diversion if they are waiting for either a trial or their confirmed sentence which would otherwise without the presence of a mental illness, be punishable by incarceration.


Section 37 of the 1983 Act; ‘Powers of courts to order hospital admission or guardianship’, is the statute of most relevance to this academic piece. Section 37, part 1 rules that offenders with a mental illness can, subject to two medical professional’s confirmation of illness, and the application of a Hospital Order, be transferred to a hospital for treatment, where they will be held for the entire duration of the order. It is also possible under this statute for offenders to be diverted away from custody and into the care of relevant local authorities, under a Guardianship Order. Dolan and Powell (2001) define the roles of the Criminal Justice and healthcare systems in these circumstances, stating that after a transfer has been completed, the offender is now the sole responsibility of Healthcare professionals, and therefore does not have any further involvement with the justice services. Bluglass 1983 (p.51) supports Dolan and Powell’s statements by concluding that “A Hospital Order or Guardianship Order is not a sentence; it is an alternative disposal and the person becomes a patient not a prisoner.” This information contradicts the work of Mitchell (2003) discussed in chapter one, who concluded that hospital treatment, even though not a reasonability of the criminal justice system, is still a form of punishment and detention.


Section 38 of the 1983 Act is also of importance when discussing the legislative framework that enables the diversion of mentally disordered offenders. Section 38 part 1 ‘Interim hospital orders’ gave courts the power to transfer convicted offenders to hospital, if there is reason to suspect that they would benefit from being detained in a health care setting, instead of having a possible mental illness exacerbated by incarceration. Bluglass (1983) provides a justification of this order, stating that interim hospital orders are only used in cases where mental healthcare professionals are unsure of an individual’s suitability to permanently remain in a hospital, which is of far lesser security than a prison. Additionally, Bluglass notes that interim hospital orders are commonly used when further assessment of an individual’s illness is required before an informed decision on the appropriate disposal can be made. Robertson and Barnes, in Chaplin et al 2009 (p.54) provides support for Bluglass’ conclusions, writing that; “An interim hospital order is valid for up to 12 weeks but may be renewed for further periods of not more than 28 days at a time, up to a maximum of 12 months in total.” Section 38 orders are relevant to this piece as they provide the justice and healthcare agencies with the tools to assess an individual’s suitability to an environment before a permanent residency is decided upon, this should therefore remove any uncertainty and debate over the welfare of a prisoner/ patient.


The last statute of the 1983 Act that this thesis will make reference to is Section 47, part 1 titled ‘Removal to hospital of persons serving sentences of imprisonment’. Section 47 is used when an individual who is currently incarcerated in prison becomes mentally unwell, and it is believed that a hospital based treatment setting will eliminate the risk of the person’s condition or illness worsening. In some circumstances this order can be used for the transfer of individuals who are suffering from non-psychological, physical illness that requires urgent treatment (Bluglass, 1983). Furthermore, Dolan and Powell 2001 (p.132) write that “where a transfer direction is given with a restriction direction (under s.49) the Home Secretary may, as well as specifying the hospital at which the person is to be detained, specific a unit within the hospital. The person must then be detained in that unit.” This power allows prison staff to promptly and appropriately respond to any concerns they may have over an individual’s mental welfare, and to put in place restrictions which safeguard the individual and others, in an environment that is usually less secure than prison.


The 1983 Mental Health Act is the most recent mental health legislation to date, excluding the later amendments in 2007. Research by Wall et al (1999) examined statistics from the Department of Health into the number of patients who were ‘compulsorily’ admitted to mental healthcare institutions or hospitals under the 1983 Act. Wall et al’s review of statistics between 1984 and 1996 found that there was a consistent annual rise in the total number of admissions during this period. It must be noted that this research does not include patients that have been transferred from within the Criminal Justice System, just admissions of those individuals who had previously resided in the community before transfer.


Wall et al (1999) attribute this rise to two factors; a supposed change in the public perception of persons with mental illnesses, and a shortage of available beds. Wall et al conclude that the wider population’s beliefs and scepticism towards the nature of individuals with a mental illness is the stem of this issue they have highlighted. The authors state that the public’s negative beliefs causes the Health Services strain, which therefore leads to longer periods of detention, and a subsequent lack of available beds. The researchers suggest that the lack of facilities, and the resulting delay in processing individuals, could lead to the deterioration of an individual’s condition, which therefore could explain an increase in the number of patients in compulsory detention.


Later research by Hotopf et al (2000) provides support for Wall et al’s research findings, the researchers here also used statistics published by the Department of Health and the Home office as their primary source of data. Hotopf et al found an increase of 63% in psychiatric admissions, which was correlational with an increase in the number of admissions under part three of the 1983 Act. The authors found that the use of Section 47 orders rose from 103 cases in 1987, to 264 almost a decade later in 1996, and similarly that Section 48 orders increased annually from 77 to 481 in the same decade (Hotopf et al 2000). Interestingly, the research also showed a decrease in the usage of Section 37 orders from 1194 in 1984, to just 749 some 9 years later. The authors explain this general increase in diversion as a result of better staffing numbers of healthcare professionals in prisons, and a greater awareness of mental disorder throughout the CJS, and specifically in the courts. Hotopf et al conclude that as a result of these improvements mental illnesses are identified earlier in the prosecution process, and that therefore the diversion of individuals and the justice process are quicker.


However, Hotopf et al (2000) also acknowledge that their research may have limitations, and therefore further research is needed before the results can be assumed as entirely valid. The authors state that their research may not be wholly accurate, as it is based on the Department of Health and the NHS publishing accurate statistics, which are subject to the reliability of internal research. Furthermore, Hotopf et al (2000) explain that the figures included in both pieces of research are based on the number of individuals who are admitted within the restrictions of the Mental Health Act, which could possibly exclude a significant number of people, especially those with multiple admissions and detentions.


As the above research has demonstrated, even though there has been a consistent increase in the number of prisoner admissions to hospitals since the introduction of the 1983 Mental Health Act, this does by no means suggest that practice under the Act is sufficiently effective. A Department of Health report ‘Review of the Mental Health Act 1983’ 1999 (p.125) highlighted issues relating to the treatment of mentally disordered offenders under the National Health Service, stating;


“Involvement with the criminal justice process should not alter the basis on which an individual enjoys access to health care.” (Department of Health, 1999, section 15, part 10)


This conclusion is not dissimilar to that of the earlier 1983 Mental Health Act, and even the writings of the Butler Committee in 1975; it reiterates the unanimous view that MDO’s are considered as totally exempt from responsibility, and therefore should not be both directly and indirectly punished.


The 1999 report continues, discussing the difficulties with detaining mentally disordered offenders that are in need of higher security than what is available in a hospital setting. Section 15, part 11, states that patients pose risk to themselves and others, and are not receptive to mental health treatment, must be dealt with by the Criminal Justice System. The report by the Department of Health assumes that a large number of these individuals have various personality disorders, which causes them to pose a higher risk of violence and dangerousness than those with alternative mental illnesses. The decision of appropriate treatment seems simple, with the report ruling that;


“If offender patients render themselves effectively untreatable by reason of their refusal to co-operate, a penal order may be imposed, subject to the power to transfer the individual into health care should circumstances change.” (Department of Health, 1999, section 15, part 11)



Canton, in Green et al (2008) also questions the effectiveness of diversion and its possible limited applicability to, and availability for, the majority of MDO’s, writing that as a result of this the majority of this group are instead treated with similar punitive disposals as those offenders who do not have a mental illness. Canton also provides an explanation of the recent introduction of the term ‘Dangerous Severe Personality Disorder’, and subsequent programmes that have been developed in response to this group of personality disorders which are increasingly labelled as a danger to society.


Canton, in Green et al (2008) attributes the development of this new diagnosis to an increase in perceived risk within society, and therefore an increasing Governmental and Criminal Justice focus on risk based policy and prevention of crime, which is especially inclusive of crimes perpetrated by individuals with mental illnesses and personality disorders. Furthermore, Canton writes that the difficulties in finding a balance between public protection and the wellbeing of individuals who are suffering from a mental disorder, as a result of the 1983 Mental Health Act, is what led to amendments to the 1983 Act in 2007. Canton notes, however, that these amendments could allow for the continuous discrimination of MDO’s, and the further proliferation of them as an evil group within society, regardless of their vulnerability.



Several other academics (Maden 2007; Hebenton and Seddon 2009; Buchanan and Grounds 2011) have made similar conclusions emphasising the causal relationship between the recent increase in public anxiety surrounding risk and the subsequent Governmental responses. Hebenton and Seddon (2009) write that not only has public security has become a Governmental priority and an integral factor of legislative change, but that those with mental illnesses and personality disorders are more often than not labelled as dangerous, and therefore seen as posing a large threat to the security of the wider population. Furthermore, the above authors determine that the development and implementation of ‘DSPD’ programmes within the UK is a direct consequence of this shift in society.


However unfair this assumption may seem at first, research by Hodgins et al (2007) perhaps justifies such beliefs, concluding that both male and female individuals with mental illness are more likely to perpetrate crime, specifically violent crimes, than members of the public who do not have a mental illness. Their research found that male ‘patients’ were up to eight times more likely to have a criminal record, and four or five times more likely to be guilty of a violent crime. Additionally, the results concluded that female ‘patients’ were up to eight times as likely to have committed a violent offence than the likelihood of the same being perpetrated by a female without a mental illness.


However, it is important to note that the above research by Hodgins et al (2007) was based on a comparison of crime rates between individuals with mental illnesses in the public, and a sample of the public who did not have a mental health condition. It did not include a sample of MDO’s. Even though the research is not explicitly relevant to this thesis as it does not include data on mentally disordered and DSPD offenders, it clearly illustrates why the public, and subsequently the Government perceive those with mental health illnesses such as DSPD as a risk to society, and as a group that significantly contributes to crime levels, especially violent and sexual crimes.


However, as Canton in Green et al (2008) discusses, possible factors that are predictive of crime amongst MDO’s and people with DPSD, are similar if not identical to factors that also trigger individuals without a mental illness to offend. It is for this reason that Canton criticises the Criminal Justice System and its recent legislation that assumes a mental health illness can be the sole cause for an offence, regardless of social and societal triggers which can too be experienced by persons in whom a mental illness is not present, e.g. substance abuse.


The UK Government’s first statutory piece to identify and define DSPD groups, and set guidelines as to how this group would be dealt with was the ‘Managing Dangerous People With Severe Personality Disorder: Proposals For Policy Development’ consultation paper of 1999. The paper ruled that it was necessary to improve public protection from potentially dangerous individuals with DSPD, and that also this group should be better catered for in terms of the treatment they receive and crucially, that this should be administered separately from the Criminal Justice System (Home Office, 1999). After acknowledging the inconsistent applicability of current mental health legislation, the consultation paper tried to rectify this issue through extending measures to the public, thus creating a unified approach to dealing with ‘risky’ and dangerous people within society, regardless of their offences (Glover-Thomas 2002).


This was followed up by the ‘Reforming The Mental Health Act’ White Paper (Home Office, 2000), part II of which reiterates that current Mental Health practice is ineffective in protecting the public, and in providing treatment for individuals who have a mental illness. Furthermore, and of most importance to this piece, the white paper explains that even though the majority of individuals with a mental health condition are not violent or potentially dangerous, a minority, often those with DSPD are.


It is for this reason that the white paper suggested that all healthcare and justice authorities be placed under obligation to routinely perform risk assessments in order to identify individuals with DSPD characteristics, both in wider public and criminal justice institutions. The white paper rules that if upon the first screening assessment, individuals that are suggested to possess DSPD characteristics will then be eligible for a 28 day period of treatment, during which further assessment will either confirm or disprove the possibility of such a diagnosis (Grounds 2001). After this, depending on the outcome of the earlier assessment, the individual can be transferred to a second health care institution for ‘intensive assessment’ which lasts for a period of three months, after which a final diagnosis and therefore compulsory detention is issued (Chiswick, 2001).


However this update to Mental Health legislation has not been exempt from criticism, with Chiswick (2001) noting that those who are detained under DSPD legislation without involvement within the Criminal Justice System will be held indefinitely even though they have not committed an offence. The DSPD programme has also been criticised by Griffith et al (2004) who write that the compulsory hospitalisation of individuals for preventative reasons, based on crime risk prediction and assessment is fundamentally wrong, especially in cases where the individual has no choice in their detention. Furthermore, Griffith et al raise concern about how the new DSPD procedures will affect minority groups, and imply that the policy will create practice that is discriminatory and oppressive by detaining individuals with DSPD, who may not have a criminal record or have perpetrated violent crime.


Furthermore, there has also been criticism of the term DSPD which was coined by the UK Government in recent years, with Kingdon (2007) writing that even though a title and diagnosis of this umbrella of conditions is necessary, the current ‘DSPD’ provokes a focus on danger and risk of the individual. Kingdon (2007) continues, stating that this term is highly discriminatory and demeaning towards the individuals who are labelled with it, but that this is to be expected when even the simpler condition ‘personality disorder’ is just as discriminatory and negative in suggesting that an individual is mentally deficient and  lacking.


In conclusion, what this chapter has demonstrated is that mentally disordered offenders, specifically offenders with DSPD is no longer an issue that is discussed by the Government and the justice and healthcare systems. The effects of the proliferation of mentally disordered offenders by the public can be described in terms of a cyclical relationship between the public, theory, policy and practice. This relationship has provoked numerous positive developments for the treatment of MDO’s, such as improved healthcare and the development of a variety of treatment programmes, for example DSPD programmes. However, as some of the above academic work has illustrated, the increasing awareness of MDO’s in recent years has also had negative consequences, with the discrimination of such groups being continued. Furthermore, the many legislative developments in recent years demonstrate the Government’s willingness to provide for those with mental illnesses as best as is possible. Whether this is successful in practice will be discussed in the next two chapters of this thesis.


Chapter 3
Mental Health care in custody & special hospitals

the use of prison for these offenders is a failure to identify, or treat, common mental health problems in the community.” (Too Little Too Late: an independent review of unmet mental health need in prison, Prison Reform Trust, 2009, p.7)


As is highlighted in earlier chapters, a significant number of mentally disordered offenders are not diverted, and instead remain incarcerated for the duration of their sentence. A substantial amount of research has been conducted in this area, and has estimated that a large proportion of the UK prison population has one or more Mental Illnesses as a result of the inconsistent nature of diversion schemes. Figures on this range from 70% for women and 72% for men (Social Exclusion Unit, 2004) to 90% overall (Birmingham 2003, cited by Rethink Mental Illness 2011). Thus, this chapter will discuss the importance of the level of health care within Criminal Justice institutions being comparable to that of outside healthcare services.


The Reed Report of 1992 was the first Government publication of its kind to formally acknowledge the numerous failures of current prison health care at the time, and to propose achievable measures that would improve the health care provided to MDO’s (Chiswick, 1992). The report emphasised that individuals with a mental health condition should not be penalised for their crimes, which are often caused by their illnesses, and that their treatment should be based upon their needs rather than the benefit of the public or according to ‘dangerousness’ (Chiswick, 1992). Most fundamentally, Chiswick writes that the MDO’s should be given to health care services, as it was so far inadequate under the Criminal Justice System.


The later HMIP ‘Patient or Prisoner?’ Report (Home Office, 1996) ruled that improvements to prison healthcare were necessary, and that the justice mental health care departments should share the excellence of the National Health Service. The 1996 report further highlighted the needs of offenders, stating that at the time, protection of the public was prioritised over the treatment and wellbeing of MDO’s. Labelling this as wrong and implying that this could cause further offending, the report declared that prisoners must be given proper support and training, and that this must be consistent with that that is provided within wider society.

Birmingham (2003) explains the importance of the 1996 report further, stating that as a result of its publication, a follow up report ‘The Provision of Mental Health Care in Prisons’ (1997) was published, again reiterating the poor quality of mental health care in prisons. Additionally, Birmingham writes that the report called for NHS management of these services and in addition the need for an improved, effective and consistent service for offenders after their release. These reports provoked the formation of the Joint Prison Service and National Health Service Executive Working Group, who began to conduct research into the competency of the prison health care system, and report findings and recommendations back to the Government (Birmingham, 2003). The executive working group published ‘The Future Organisation of Prison Health Care’ report in 1999 (Department of Health, Home office, 1999) which again suggested that improvements needed to be made to the standard of mental health care within prisons, as well as changes in the identification and assessment of MDO’s.

The Prison Health Policy Unit was introduced in the Department of Health in 2000, as a replacement for the Directorate of Health Care for Prisons, based within the Home Office until its abolition (Birmingham 2003). The author attributes this shift in responsibility as a Governmental reaction to the findings of the above reports. Furthermore, Birmingham explains the significance of a later transfer of the financial responsibility of prison health care in 2003, again, from the Home Office to the Department of Health. The author comments that this was the first Government step to place the NHS under an obligation to, and give it the power to monitor and improve mental health care inside prisons.

However hopeful these changes look upon publication and however credible the intentions of the executive working group, the Criminal Justice System and the National Health Service are, the suggested changes may not be successful in practice. The 2007 ‘The mental health of prisoners’ thematic review (HMI Prisons, Ministry of Justice, 2007) evaluates the changes that took place since the 1997 ‘Patient or Prisoner?’ Report. The 2007 review notes that even though there have been large improvements made, including improved standards of mental health care in prisons since the involvement of NHS services, a substantial lack of resources is still apparent. This is especially in comparison to the number of individuals who may require treatment. The report suggests that the pressure on prison health care capacity problems could be relieved if diversions were issued more often, and at the earliest opportunity, so that MDO’s could receive treatment in more suitable environments; hospitals and community based services.

The Bradley Report (Department of Health 2009) made similar findings to that of the 2007 thematic report, asserting that many groups, such as women and ethnic minorities are at a disadvantage within the prison mental healthcare system and that some are not receiving the required treatment. The report attributes this lack of treatment to a widespread lack of resources and services which are characterised by inflexibility and unavailability. The report compares this situation to the amount of resources currently available to the wider public under the NHS, writing that this practice should be fully integrated within UK prisons even though at present it is not.

Furthermore, the Bradley Report again highlighted issues with the mental health assessment of individuals in prison, concluding that this is counter-productive and inefficient. The report recommends that this process should take place at the earliest stage possible, for example at a police station upon arrest. Lord Bradley writes that this would enable for earlier diversion of MDO’s, which in turn would benefit not only the well-being of the individual, but also alleviate some of the strain on resources that prisons currently experience.

In addition, the Bradley Report concludes that there is a lack of continuity in aftercare upon an offender’s release. The report proposes that mental health teams in prisons must set up diversion schemes with community agencies for an offender before their release, and that this process was already described in the development of the ‘Care Programme Approach’, first introduced by the Department of Health in 1991 (Kingdon and Amanullah, 2005). Research by Lennox et al (2012) supports this conclusion, finding that only 4 out of 53 offenders in their study were involved with community mental health care teams after release from prison.

A report by Prison Reform Trust (Prison Reform Trust 2009) again criticised mental health care in prisons, especially the decreasing usage of diversion. The report concluded that courts are increasingly punishing MDO’s instead of diverting them. Using section 35 of the 1983 Act as an example, the 2009 report details that the use of this order decreased by a substantial 56% between 1996 and 2006. The report also discussed section 36 orders, finding that the usage of this order decreased too, from 33 to 19 uses in this period. These figures support the above conclusions that the diversion of MDO’s is decrease, whilst punishment is increasing. The report also criticised the separation of MDO’s in prison, finding that often those with mental illnesses are placed in segregation units as a means of protecting the rest of the prison population. This has been suggested to be a result of poor staffing and a lack of available resources.

Further criticism of the recent improvements to prison health care is provided by Buchanan and Grounds (2011) who write that the Bradley Report will only make a minor amount of change to a widespread problem, which for the authors, a lack of funding is the cause of. The authors explain that prison mental health care services only obtain a third of the financial investment they require to provide a service that is similar to that of the NHS. Additionally, the authors attribute blame to the Government for the unequal distribution of funding towards MDO’s, comparing inadequate prison health care with a large sum of £200 million that has been spent on the Dangerous Severe Personality Disorder scheme in recent years. This figure demonstrates that prison health care has long been seen as neglected by Government, but how alternative mental health provisions, supported by the opinions of the public, are being endorsed.

A study by Jordan (2012) aimed to highlight any successful changes to the prison mental health care system in recent years, and suggest where further improvements could be made. The prisoner respondents in the study were conclusive in their satisfaction of the contact time they had with members of the mental health teams. The positive attitude towards the care they received from mental health practitioners however, was not felt towards prison staff, who many of the patients believed did not have sufficient knowledge and understanding of mental health issues. However, the researchers do acknowledge possible reliability issues within their study, stating that the overall positive beliefs of the patients/ prisoners interviewed may be a biased result of the ‘clinicians’ being present during the interview. Additionally, the researchers note that the prison environment in which the interviews were conducted may have also biased the results, suggesting that the patient/ prisoner interviewee’s may have feared being disciplined for any criticisms they had of the service.

This research can be further criticised, as the study was only conducted within one UK prison, and therefore its application and generalisation to other prisons is questionable. Caution is needed because the conditions and environment of the prison are specific to that institution only, and the opinions of the respondents, if assumed valid, may not be applicable to the rest of the UK prison population. The research sample is also relatively small, with 21 interviews being used in the study; 4 of which were prisoners, 12 mental health care professionals, and 5 were prison staff members. Therefore until similar research which produces congruent results is conducted, its findings should not be assumed conclusively. Furthermore, the research was conducted in a male-only prison, even though the gender of the staff members is not disclosed, it is unethical to generalise these findings to wider prison populations. This is particularly the case with female populations as the opinions of these patients/ prisoners may be unrepresentative of females within the UK criminal justice system.

What the research studies discussed demonstrate is that the suggested improvements in prison mental health care over the last two decades, beginning with the Reed Report of 1992, have not been so successful in their application. The study by Jordan (2012) and the findings of the HMIP Thematic Review (2007) and the later Bradley Report (2009) however do acknowledge that the publication of Government reports and policy changes have had a significant impact on the standard of mental health care that is provided within institutions, and has increased the possibility of further change. The research by Jordan (2012) found that the majority of MDO’s were happy with the care they received. However, as this cannot be applied to the overall prison population, the findings of this study support the conclusions of both the Thematic Review and Bradley Report. The reports concluded that there have been several successful changes but that this has in no way been substantial enough; therefore a large amount of change is still needed before mental health care provisions in prisons reaches the standard that is required and expected of them.

As discussed earlier in this thesis, the diversion of mentally disordered offenders to regional hospitals is often not applicable to those who are considered dangerous. It is for this reason that a large proportion of this group are sentenced to incarceration in UK prisons instead of being diverted. However, for a minority of cases; the most dangerous of MDO’s, ‘special hospitals’ are considered an appropriate treatment setting.

Bailey and Macculloch 1992 (p.446) explain that “Special Hospitals exist for the care, treatment and secure detention of mentally disordered persons who are judged to be a grave danger to the public”. The three special hospitals currently used within the UK are Broadmoor, Rampton and Ashworth, and even though eligibility for admission to these hospitals is the confirmed diagnosis of a mental disorder, the majority of patients are transferred from the justice system, and it is infrequent for a patient to be admitted from the community (Jamieson and Taylor 2004).

Ferrito et al (2012) note that the treatment given inside special hospitals often includes a combination of psychological therapy; cognitive behavioural therapy, and the use of medication. The authors continue, writing that the principle of recovery as a way of reducing reoffending, has recently gained popularity within these institutions through the removal of underlying personal factors which trigger criminality, instead of just treating the physical and emotional symptoms that are present, and assumed to cause crime.

The effectiveness of special hospital treatment programmes has been questioned by many academics (Bailey and Macculloch 1992; Jamieson and Taylor 2004). Research by Bailey and Macculloch (1992) found that 19 out of 106 patients in their study, around one fifth, went on to perpetrate one or more serious offences within the 14 years after their release from high-security hospitals. In addition, the results of this study found that patients who are conditionally discharged, and therefore involved with mental health services upon release, reoffended less than those given an absolute discharge, who are supervised significantly less in the community.

Later research by Jamieson and Taylor (2004) found that 38% of offenders in their sample were convicted of at least one offence after release from hospital, and that one quarter had perpetrated a serious crime. This figure is similar to that of the earlier research, and it is for this reason that the researchers conclude that the mental health care provided upon release from high-security special hospitals is inadequate when compared to that that is delivered during the treatment period.  However, Jamieson and Taylor (2004) do acknowledge the ‘high’ reoffending results found in their study, and attribute this to improved data collection by themselves in comparison to previous studies, as opposed to the possibility of secure hospitals being ineffective in reforming MDO’s.

In conclusion, this chapter has illustrated that the continuous improvements to prison health care made by the Government so far, have been mostly ineffective. However, the efforts of the Government, and their willingness to conduct research and implement change is not to be underestimated.
Chapter 4
Summary of current diversion practice

the current legal framework contains a variety of statutory and non-statutory mechanisms aimed at diverting mentally disordered offenders from the formal trial process, the success and impact of which have been variable.” (Mackay and Machin, 2000, p.727)

This chapter aims to provide the reader with an overall conclusive evaluation of the diversion process of mentally disordered offenders within the UK. This overview will be formed through the comparison and analysis of literature and research studies that have been published in this field. The majority of the included literature will consist of journal articles and research which have already conducted detailed analyses of diversion schemes currently in use within the UK.

Research by Mackay and Machin (2000) examined the diversion of 370 remand prisoners, under the use of section 48 orders. The results found that 56% of the sample were put forward for a transfer within 25 days of being incarcerated, but that 10% of the prisoners put forward for diversion took over 200 days to be identified. The researchers also found that transfers usually took place within a week, but for 20% of the sample this took over 50 days depending on relocation availability and suitability. Additionally the research found that for 18 out of the 370 prisoners diversion was never fulfilled, with 8 of the 18 individuals not being transferred due to insufficient accommodation, and 5 remaining in prison because of disagreements over the required security level needed for these prisoners/ patients. These statistics highlight the difficulties faced by professionals involved in the organisation of a diversion transfer, and how this delays the diversion process.

Mackay and Machin (2000) question the reliability of their research sample. The study was comprised of 86% male and 14% female patients, which the researchers note is higher than that of females within the wider prison population gender ratio. Reflecting on the ethnicity of participants included in this study, the researchers note that black individuals accounted for 19% of the patients in the sample, which is a higher proportion than that of the prison population. The researchers compare their findings to that of previous research which has similarly concluded that females and ethnic minorities are ‘over-represented’ within the secure hospital population. This suggests either a higher prevalence of mental illness amongst females and ethnic minority groups, or a tendency for these groups of individuals to be convicted and also diagnosed with a mental illness.

Further research that has analysed the effectiveness of diversion schemes in practice is provided by Roberts et al (2012). The study found that there were several factors which substantially increased the period over which diversion transfers took place. This included the potential ‘risk’ of an individual, severity of illness, and similar to the findings of Mackay and Machin (2000) a lack of resources; bed availability and appropriateness of accommodation. The study by Roberts et al found that the average diversion transfer time varied between the sexes, with the average for women being 15 days, and for men 50 days. These results are significantly similar to the 7 day and 50 day transfer times highlighted by Mackay and Machin. Roberts et al’s research also highlighted potential discrepancies in the transfer times of ‘foreign nationals’. The data collected from one prison, with 5 out of 9 prisoners requiring diversion being foreign nationals, having an average wait for diversion transfer of 71 days. This data supports the conclusion that minority groups are disadvantaged within the diversion process.

Roberts et al (2012) compare their research with that of other academics and conclude that the transfer times collected in their study were less than that of other research; suggesting an improvement in diversion schemes in recent years. However, there are several obvious failures and weaknesses identified within this research, which cause delays in the diversion of prisoners. The majority of delays, as per Roberts et al, are a result of widespread lack of communication and continuity, and additionally, extensive tensions between the agencies involved.

The research article is conclusive in its emphasis of the need for multi-agency working to be improved, and for all agencies to improve their understanding of the conflicting role and aims of alternative agencies, if these differ to their own. Moreover, Roberts et al (2012) identified administration and information sharing as an area which inhibits the diversion process, suggesting that if the agencies could facilitate sharing one database, then problems in the retrieval of patient/ prisoner case information would be alleviated.

Another problem identified by the research was a lack of available beds, which further increased the transfer period. However, this view was challenged by the Director of Secure Commissioning. In an interview with the researchers, the director explained:

“You can have as much capacity as you like and I suspect you would still fill it… I can’t justify more capacity, because, actually we have it; it’s just that it’s blocked. It’s about the process through the system, there needs to be that through-care pathway for people to step down to” (Director of Secure Commissioning, Roberts et al 2012, p.225)


The researchers acknowledged the validity of this issue, and attribute this to increases in the duration of hospital residency, and therefore worsened availability of beds.


The researchers also concluded that the nature and concept of ‘risk’ was another factor which altered patients/ prisoners experiences of diversion. The researchers concluded that as discussed above, conflicting institutional goals between agencies cause discrepancies in the suggested treatment of an offender, and therefore delays in the transfer process between prison and hospital. Specifically, the researchers identified that staff from several agencies thought a shared risk-assessment procedure would aid the diversion of mentally disordered offenders. The staff in question suggested that such a process would alleviate tensions and debates over the ‘riskiness’ of a prisoner and where he/she would be most appropriately detained, and therefore both simplify and reduce the duration of the processes pre-diversion.


However, it would be wrong to assume this research as valid and to be an accurate illustration of diversion schemes. It must be noted that the researchers intent is not to label diversion as a concept ineffective, instead the authors criticise the process and agency framework through which diversion is implemented. Additionally, the research design itself is questionable, with only 5 UK prisons consisting of 45 MDO’s and 46 staff members included in the study. In addition, four out of the five institutions were male only, and the category of the institutions; the severity of the crimes committed, is not included. For this reason, the research cannot be assumed as representative of the whole UK diversion system. The small sample size of this research piece, too, makes it difficult to apply the findings of the study to the diversion process as a whole. The findings of this research could only be applied to and utilised by agencies and practice if additional research which yields similar results, is conducted in this field.

However, the credibility of the research by Roberts et al (2012) and Mackay and Machin (2000) is demonstrated through the similar findings of both studies. Both pieces of research have highlighted that it is institutional failures which inhibit the effectiveness of diversion, and not the process itself. Additionally, both pieces of research found that minority groups within the prison population, i.e. female offenders and black ethnic minorities are over-represented within the secure psychiatric hospital population. Further research by Bartlett et al (2012) supports the findings of this research, and has identified potential disadvantages and delays faced by female offenders during the diversion process, with only 13% of female offenders in their study being diverted within the 14 day period that is outlined in Government policy.

Moreover, research conducted by Long et al (2012) found that female offenders who are diverted to healthcare settings from prison often do not receive treatment that is appropriate for and successful in catering for all of their individual needs. This is compared to patients that have been transferred from within the NHS. It is for this reason that further research in this area should be encouraged, and that best practice and diversity should be promoted and strived for before the diversion process, and the practices of both the Criminal Justice and healthcare systems can be praised further.

Scott (1974) however, criticises the concept of diversion and transferral of prisoners to hospitals, writing that the negative consequences of its usage far outweigh the benefits. Scott concludes that the reluctance of the majority of hospitals to accept admissions of MDO’s, especially those that are dangerous, means that relatively few offenders are actually diverted and given the appropriate treatment. Scott further criticises diversion schemes, suggesting that their practice and usage removes responsibility from prisons to deal with this group of offenders, and therefore the MDO’s who remain in prisons are inadequately provided for because the required resources are diverted to hospitals instead.



This thesis sought to critically examine the process of diversion within the UK, in an attempt to determine the effectiveness of this disposal in both policy and practice. The thesis first examined the historical and theoretical context upon which diversion was introduced. The practice of diverting the mentally disordered offender originated in the 1800’s, after questions started to be raised about a MDO’s lack of responsibility and knowledge of their offence being immoral. Since then, the belief that an individual with a mental illness is less responsible for the crime they have committed has become ingrained in legislation, subject to the causal relationship between the illness and the offence being established. Recent legislation such as the 1983 Mental Health Act has further legitimised this belief, developed provisions that make MDO’s exempt from punishment, and further promoted the diversion and treatment of mentally disordered offenders.

It is near on impossible to criticise the legislation that is in place, as the recognition of MDO’s as an exception from punitive disposals is widely accepted. Furthermore, it is difficult to criticise current legislation as there are countless provisions in place which greatly benefit MDO’s. In addition, the constant willingness of the Government and of the Criminal Justice and health services to monitor, and introduce improvements to the diversion process is commendable, and is easily observed through the publication of numerous reports and white papers that have been issued as a result. This positive conclusion has been formed on the basis that numerous government statutes accompanied by a great wealth of academic research, have unanimously deemed that the prison environment can exacerbate and worsen mental illness. Therefore suitable treatment, that is currently provided and promoted by the Government and justice and health care services, is more appropriate.

However, failures in the diversion process as a result of agencies involved have been highlighted by research included in this piece, such as that of Roberts et al (2012). It is both the conflicting aims and the lack of a collective procedure between these agencies which is labelled as the cause of widespread ineffectiveness in diversion schemes. It is for this reason that the researchers suggest the promotion of multi-agency working will remove these tensions, and improve the diversion process. Research has found that diversion of MDO’s takes far longer than it should, and that this is one of the major factors upon which its ineffectiveness is decided. Other research in this thesis has highlighted difficulties in the risk assessment of ‘dangerous’ offenders, which again leads to an ineffective and delayed diversion process, and growing anxiety towards this small group of offenders.

Numerous academics cited in this piece have concluded that both public and professional concern towards risk, and dangerous ‘DSPD’ offenders has led to increased periods of hospital detention, as well as a decrease in the usage of diversion, and instead an increase in the imprisonment of those who are deemed as a risk to wider society.

Another aspect of the diversion process that has been continuously seen as ineffective is the provision of services for minority groups; female and black ethnic minority offenders. Several research studies included in this thesis have identified minority groups as being ‘over-represented’ in the secure-hospital population, this is to say that the prevalence of these individuals is higher than that in the prison population, and in wider UK society. However, the researchers do not propose any explanations of these figures, and therefore further research is required in this area before any conclusions, and subsequent improvements can be made.

All in all, the consideration of MDO’s as being exempt from responsibility is a positive development in the recent history of the criminal justice process. However, diversion is not as effective in practice, and this is characterised by several recent Government and non-government independent reports which continue to provoke needed changes in the diversion process, specifically in the standards of available healthcare. It is for this reason that further research in this field would benefit the criminal justice system and MDO’s greatly. As demonstrated in the last two decades, the relationship between research and policy is key to improving provisions for MDO’s, and there is still a way to go until a service that rivals NHS standards is achieved.

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Critically evaluate the theoretical underpinnings of offender profiling using the material covered in the 3 theory lectures.

By Elise Luscombe University of the West of England

Offender profiling is conceptualised as a medium for aiding the identification of unknown offenders and is utilised in the investigative stages of the Criminal Justice System. It is a tool that has attracted a vast amount of media attention and one that has become dominant in television programmes and films. However, despite its heroic status in various forms of media, offender profiling has encouraged contentious debate in regards to its reliability and effectiveness. This discussion will address whether offender profiling is advantageous through evaluation of its two theoretical underpinnings; homology and behavioural consistency. A general evaluation of offender profiling as a whole will then be presented.  The argument put forth in this discussion will be based on the notion that behaviour consistency seems to hold the most support based on various theories of offending behaviours; compared with homology. It is also put forth that the range of theories regarding criminal behaviour threatens the validity and reliability of offender profiling in practice. It is suggested that offender profiling should be used only in conjunction with other investigative tools and heavy emphasis should not be placed on its reliability.

Offender profiling combines the analysis of available information with the utilisation of various psychological theories; in order to identify the possible characteristics and type of offender.  There are four approaches to offender profiling; Crime scene analysis, investigative psychology, diagnostic evaluation and geographical profiling. (Tong, Bryant and Horvath, 2009).  The four approaches all share the same theoretical foundation; consisting of homology and behavioural consistency. Behavioural consistency is the assumption that an individual’s behaviour is consistent across situations whilst homology is the assumption that the more similar offender’s background and personality characteristics are, the more similar their behaviour will be whilst committing the offence (Mokros and Alison, 2002).

Trait theories within psychology suggest that consistent personality traits govern our behaviour and the way that individuals think. It is argued that these traits remain stable, regardless of the situation. For example, Eysenck (1996) argued that certain personality factors, mainly neuroticism, extraversion and psychoticism, were more predisposed to partake in anti-social behaviour. The sub-traits underlying these three main personality factors are responsible for producing such criminal behaviours, for example; impulsivity, aggression and anxiety. Trait theories seem to support the notion of behavioural consistency. If these traits determine how individual’s act in particular situations and these traits remain stable; it is logical to assume that an individual’s behaviour would thus remain stable across situations. This seems to support offender profiling and would possibly allow for the identification of patterns. To illustrate, Salfati and Bateman’s (2005) study of behavioural consistency across twenty three offenders demonstrated consistency across all three offences committed by the individual.

Personality theories, however, do not seem to support the notion of homology. Eysenck (1996) argued that environmental factors also play a role in determining whether an individual participates in anti-social behaviour. He states that through classical conditioning, certain behaviours are either reinforced or punished. Eysenck argues, through research, that extraverts form these conditioned responses slower than introverts and thus anti-social behaviour is a greater possibility. However, this does not account fully for the social or environmental impact on criminal behaviour. Therefore, it could be argued that if personality traits mainly predict anti-social behaviour; similarities in background characteristics may not be found between offenders. Mokros and Alison (2002) studied one hundred British male rapists and found no positive relationship between similar offending behaviours and background characteristics. This research suggests that similarity in criminal behaviour does not equate to similarity in offender characteristics. In contrast, however, it could be argued that patterns among offenders can be identified. If certain personality traits produce certain offending behaviours, it could be argued that similar offending behaviour would therefore mean similar personality traits between offenders. This would support the notion of homology and imply that offender profiling can be successful in identifying personality characteristics by the crime committed.

Biological theories of crime offers arguably the most significant support for the behavioural consistency assumption of offender profiling. These theories argue that our behaviour and mental processes are governed by our biology. Theories about the role of genetics argue that certain genetics can predispose individuals to become offenders (Shug, Gao, Glenn, Peskin, Yang and Raine (2013). To illustrate, Briken, Habermann, Berner and Hill (2006) found a higher rate of the XYY chromosome abnormality among sexual homicide perpetrators than in the general population. Neuroimaging has also contributed to biological theories of criminal behaviour. In violent offenders, the orbitofrontal cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex has been consistently discovered as impaired (Shug, Gao, Glenn et al, 2013). Furthermore, Raine, Ishikawa, Arce, Lencz, Knuth, Bihrle, LaCasse and Colletti (2004) reported hippocampal abnormalities have been demonstrated in psychopathic and aggressive individuals.

The deterministic nature of biological theories, that various biological dysfunctions govern our behaviour, supports behavioural consistency. Behavioural consistency, as an assumption, is arguably supported as biological theories are themselves producing deterministic assumptions. It seems logical that if biological factors are indeed governing offender’s behaviour, and biology remains stable, then the behaviour the offender exerts will in turn remain consistent. Biological theories also seem to support the notion of homology. An implication of biological theories is prediction. By identifying biological differences in offenders, compared with the general population, we can predict then which individuals will become offenders. Therefore, it is expected that commonalities between offenders can be identified. For example if two similar crimes were committed, both of which were violent and indicative of aggressive individuals, a profiler could conclude that the offender’s both shared the same biological characteristics.

However, biological theories can also be utilised to criticise the homology assumption of offender profiling. The theories mentioned only support homology to a limited extent, i.e. only if the offender’s motivation for criminal behaviour had biological roots. They cannot, however, indicate whether two offenders have similar characteristics in terms of their upbringing or social environment. The biological theories of crime ignore social influences on anti-social behaviour. Moffitt (2007, as cited in Shug, Gao, Glenn et al, 2013) argued that the contribution of genetics is around forty to fifty per cent. Barnes and Jacobs (2013) found that genes had a more significant influence on violent behaviour when individuals also had exposure to crime or lived in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Therefore, it would seem unlikely that profilers could identify commonalities between offenders with the application of biological theories of crime.

The assumption of homology underlying offender profiling can also be criticised on the basis of sociological theories, learning theories and personal factors. Farrington (2013) states that impulsivity, low self-control as well as low intelligence has been found to be predictors of offending behaviour. However, it could be argued that two offenders could commit the same crime but in two different ways that require certain skills or beliefs. For example, two offenders could commit rape. However, one decides to rape, choses his victim at random, captures his victim from the street and rapes her in an open area. The other offender may carefully chose his victim, plan to get close to the victim and rapes the victim in his private home. Both acts are the same crime but the intelligence levels, impulsivity differ substantially between the two victims. Therefore, the implication for offender profiling is that two crimes can be the product of differing characteristics.

A strength of homology is that it could be possible to identify offender’s backgrounds by the offence committed. For example, McCord’s (1979) study into criminal behaviour and childhood rearing demonstrated that parental aggressiveness, parental conflict and supervision – among other factors – contributed to the amount of criminal behaviour participants were convicted of. Furthermore, sub-culture theories such as those of Miller (1958, as cited in Jones, 2009) argue that crime is part of certain subcultures such as the working class. Therefore, it may be possible for profilers to identify an offender’s background or childhood by the offence committed. For example, a pattern of parental aggression and disadvantaged background could be uncovered among offenders and thereby aiding the process of identifying unknown offenders.

The factors mentioned above can also offer support for behavioural consistency. If personal factors and social factors do determine behaviour, this behaviour should arguably remain consistent. To illustrate, if low self-control and high impulsivity leads to risky behaviours, it is to be expected that individuals with these factors will always behave in a risky manner when conducting criminal acts. However, on the basis of learning theories, behavioural consistency can be criticised. For example, Bandura (1977) argued for the social learning theory. He argued that behaviour is learned through observation of others and reinforcement of behaviours. The implication of such theories is that not only can behaviour be learned through observation and reinforcement, but it can also be changed or altered. For example if a serial killer were to gain a sense of pride – and therefore positive reinforcement – from his crimes, his methods may escalate in order for him to keep that feeling of pride and positive reinforcement. Therefore, the offending behaviours employed by offenders may not remain consistent due its constant alteration through learning and reinforcement.

The reliability and validity of offender profiling as a whole is brought into question from the discussion presented. The main criticism of offender profiling comes from the concept of individuality. Firstly, the vast amount of factors contributing to criminal behaviour produces difficulty in establishing causality. Biological, personality, social or learned factors are all predispositions and are not means to predict criminal behaviour. Therefore, it would seem unlikely that profiling can develop or identify common assumptions due to this individuality. For example, an offender can commit murder due to background characteristics but possess no biological defects. Another could commit a murder due to brain dysfunction or certain personality traits but lack the parental aggression in childhood. Therefore, the diverse range of theories as a whole threatens the reliability of offender profiling. Alison (2005) argues for the notion of individuality by asserting that acknowledgement of unique features and context is important in every case. It could be further argued that due to the diverse, individualistic nature of offending behaviour, it is not possible and perhaps too simplistic to categorise offenders or predict characteristics of an offender based on these categories. Furthermore, it is argued by Tong, Bryant and Horvath (2009) that profiling is difficult to define due to its diverse range of approaches and the information available about offender profiling is limited. Therefore, due to this, it could be argued that the reliability and effectiveness of offender profiling cannot ever be adequately assessed.

It would seem that consistency in behaviour of individual offenders can be identified. However, the diverse range of theories available strongly indicate an individual basis of criminal behaviour. Thus, it seems logical to suggest that offender profiling – and its attempt to identify offenders based on patterns and assumptions – lacks reliability. The diverse range of theories demonstrates that it is difficult to identify a theory that incorporates all types of offending behaviour and offenders. Therefore it is argued that by reducing a complex phenomenon, such as criminal behaviour, down to categories and predictions; the validity of offender profiling is significantly diminished. It does not seem feasible that patterns uncovered for individual offenders can be generalised to the offender population. It is therefore suggested that offender profiling be used only in conjunction with other investigative tools, is not used as the sole medium by which to convict an offender and to consider its reliability with caution.

Reference List

Alison, L.J. (2005) The Forensic Psychologist’s Casebook: Psychological Profiling and Criminal Investigation. Cullompton: Willian.

Bandura, A. (1977) Social Learning Theory. United Kingdom: Prentice-Hall.

Barnes, J.C. and Jacobs, B.A. (2013) Genetic Risk for Violent Behavior and Environmental Exposure to Disadvantage and Violent Crime: The Case for Gene–Environment Interaction. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 28 (1), pp. 92-120.

Briken, P., Habermann, N., Berner, W. and Hill, A. (2006) XYY chromosome abnormality in sexual homicide perpetrators. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics. 141B (2), pp. 198-200.

Eysenck, H.J., (1996) Personality theory and the problem of criminality. In: McLaughlin, E., Muncie, J., Hughes, G., eds., (2002) Criminological Perspectives: Essential Readings, pp. 91-109

Jones, S. (2009) Criminology. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McCord, J. (1979) Some child-rearing antecedents of criminal behavior in adult men. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 37 (9), pp. 1477-1486.

Raine, A., Ishikawa, S.S., Arce, E., Lencz, T., Knuth, K.H., Bihrle, S., Lacasse, L. and Colletti, P. (2004) Hippocampal structural asymmetry in unsuccessful psychopaths. Biological Psychiatry. 55 (2), pp. 185-191.

Mokros, A. and Alison, L.J. (2002) Is offender profiling possible? Testing the predicted homology of crime scene actions and background characteristics in a sample of rapists. Legal and Criminological Psychology. 7 (1), pp. 25-43.

Salfati, C.G. and Bateman, A.L. (2005) Serial Homicide: An Investigation of Behavioural Consistency. Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling. 2 (2), pp. 121-144.

Schug, A., Gao, Y., Glenn, A.L., Peskin, M., Yang, Y. and Raine, A. (2013) The Developmental Evidence Base: Neurobiological Research and Forensic Applications. In Towl, G.J. and Crighton, D.A., eds., (2013) Forensic Psychology, pp. 73-94.

Tong, S., Bryant, P. and Horvath, M.A.H. (2009) Understanding Criminal Investigation. Chichester: Wiley.

Luc Hulsman (2013:313) has claimed that ‘(c)rime is not the object but the product of criminal policy.’ Critically evaluate this claim.

By Alice Barlow University of the West of England

This essay will critically evaluate Hulsman’s claim that ‘crime’ is not the object but the product of criminal policy by giving evidence that will provide an insight into discussions of this statement. It will be argued that Hulsman is somewhat correct through suggestions that there is no ontological reality of ‘crime’ and therefore demonstrating that ‘crime’ would not exist without definitions as implemented by criminal policy. The issues with the concept of ‘crime’ will be explored and it will be argued that it is not absolute and is simply a social construction of an act into something that is considered illegal. Therefore, suggestions will be made that criminal policy is not a reaction to ‘crime’ but instead the manufacturer of ‘crime’. This is problematic since, as will be demonstrated it voids the need for criminology and their study of both ‘crime’ and ‘criminals’. An alternative insight will also be provided through looking at realists who stipulate that there is no point in worrying about the definitions of crime but that we should instead tackle the crime problem as it currently exists. Through doing so this essay endeavours to provide a critical evaluation of Hulsman’s abolitionist claim.


Criminological theory is centred on the focus of ‘crime’ and is often described as if it is relatively unproblematic through the continued attempts to explain its causes (Newburn, 2007). However, it is apparent that there is no straightforward or universal definition as to what constitutes as ‘crime’ because it is a concept that consistently changes to meet current perceptions and ideas as to what is considered ‘criminal behaviour’ (White, 2012). A basic legal definition of ‘crime’ is based upon what the state decides is a ‘crime’ and once written into the criminal law, what punishment that ‘crime’ should receive (White, 2012). Alternatively, a basic sociological definition of ‘crime’ is based upon anti-social behaviour, which is prohibited by the collective consciousness (Aron, 1998). It is important to note that both definitions are socially constructed and therefore strike up a discussion as to whether ‘crime’ should be defined legally or in terms of other conceptions, that may prove more adequate in dealing with behaviour that goes against social norms (White, 2012). Indeed Hulsman (1991) as an abolitionist has stipulated that we must abandon the notion of ‘crime’ and look for alternative forms of social control.


‘Crime’ is a word used in everyday conversation whereby to some extent individuals believe they ‘know’ what ‘crime’ is (Hilliard, 2004). However, there are complications in identifying the boundaries between what acts are perceived as ‘crimes’ and what acts are not (Newburn, 2007). Hulsman (1986) claims that there is no ontological reality of ‘crime’ because there is no commonality between any of the events that are so labelled a ‘crime’. This suggests that acts are not intrinsically or objectively ‘criminal’ but are instead a reflection of how society is structured (Rosiers, 2004). It is exemplified by behaviour which is neither exceptional nor unique and is often less serious than other behaviours which lay outside the scope of the criminal law (Kaptein, 2004). Durkheim has argued that ‘crime’ is not necessarily harmful and that the only common characteristic of all ‘crime’ is that they are acts universally disapproved of by society (Fenton, 1984).  Therefore suggestions have been made that ‘crimes’ and ‘criminals’ are created events and characters in the sense that they must be made in order for them to exist (Hilliard, 2004). If one agrees that there is no ontological reality of ‘crime’ then it follows that ‘crime’ is in fact a product of criminal policy.


Social constructionists argue that ‘crime’ cannot be reduced simply to behaviour and that it is the product of negotiation and labelling through which people are ‘criminalized’ (Matthews, 2009). This perspective argues that ‘crime’ is determined by the activities of the criminal justice system and its officials, since the definition of an individual as a ‘criminal’, is dependent upon who assigns them the label (White, 2012). Once this label has been allocated the individual will internalise this and will adopt this ‘criminal’ status with which they are given (Newburn, 2007). Indeed, personal action patterns often emerge amongst those criminally defined simply because they have been labelled a ‘criminal’ (Quinney, 1970). Labelling theory can therefore be used to demonstrate that once a ‘crime’ and a ‘criminal’ has been identified it is a product of criminal policy and such labelling can produce further ‘crime’ than simply that of the initial act.


For many, including Christie (2004) ‘crime does not exist’ as it is not an event that naturally occurs within society. All that exists are acts that can be contextualised and categorised within various different social frameworks (Christie, 2004). It has been stipulated that acts touched by the police and prisons are turned into ‘crimes’ and ‘criminals’ because of their power in the criminal justice system (Christie, 2004). Acts that remains outside of the system and are settled within the environment, in which they occur, may not be viewed as a ‘crime’ even if it would be defined as one in the justice system (Hulsman, 1986). This demonstrates that ‘crime’ does not exist until it has passed through the specialised criminal justice system suggesting that ‘crime’ is indeed a product of criminal policy (Christie, 1986). However, Matthews (2009) argues that it may be naïve to suggest ‘crime’ is purely a product of criminal policy. Instead, some realist criminologists have suggested that ‘crime’ is the product of an amalgamation between a process of either action or behaviour and reaction to an act (Matthews, 2009).


A further point, which may demonstrate that ‘crime’ is a result of criminal policy, can be considered by looking at ‘crimes’ that exist across different countries. Indeed what is considered to be a ‘crime’ and who is considered to be a ‘criminal’ differs, which goes back to Christie’s (2004) point that ‘crime’ does not exist as it is not absolute. A specific example can be seen with euthanasia, in the United Kingdom it is illegal and anyone who commits this offence will face severe punishment; conversely, euthanasia in the Netherlands is legalised and therefore does not require a sentence (Webb, 2005). It is therefore possible to suggest that an act is only a ‘crime’ because the specific criminal policy of a country decides that it is, upholding Hulsman’s view that ‘crime’ is the product of criminal policy. However, it must be borne in mind that there are some very unpleasant acts, which everyone calls ‘crimes’ (Hillyard, 2004).


A further thought that may suggest that ‘crime’ is not absolute and is therefore manufactured by criminal policy is the process of finding someone guilty of a ‘crime’. Before an act is considered a ‘crime’ and an individual is considered a ‘criminal’ the defendant will have to be proved guilty of an offence beyond a reasonable doubt (Reid, 1988). When an individual is found guilty, they are put through a series of criminal justice processes, which creates and moulds them into a ‘criminal’. Individuals who have already committed a ‘crime’ are predisposed to criminality because they become ‘known’ to the police and are always likely suspects to ‘crimes’ (Chapman, 1968). Penal sanctions, in particular prisons add further to the determination and brutalization of these individuals (Lea, 1984) by labelling them as a ‘criminal’ (Bohm, 1986).


The creation of an individual into a ‘criminal’ can be explicitly demonstrated through the detrimental impact of the prison regime, which operates to create an identity of the prisoner with prison and aims to reduce the attraction of civil society (Chapman, 1968). The deprivation of an individual’s autonomy means that individuals experience lack of motivation and personality deterioration (Newburn, 2007). As a result, the individual becomes criminalised and is vulnerable to re-offending once released from the prison environment (Chapman, 1968). This process demonstrates the ability of criminal policy and criminal sanction in creating ‘crime’ and ‘criminals’ through policy decisions that provide prison inmates with minimal opportunities to progress outside of the prison environment (Chapman, 1968).


Inherent in the creation of ‘crime’ through criminal policy is the distribution of power amongst those within the criminal justice system. Hulsman (1986) stipulates that in order to understand ‘crime’, it is first important to understand the criminal justice system. Power has a huge role to play in the creation of criminal law categories which, are used as a tool designed to eliminate populations perceived to be threatening to the powerful (Box, 2004). Indeed as will be explored, power often distorts the criminal justice system and as such it is questionable whether the actual ‘crimes’ in the ‘law and order’ campaign constitute part of the real crime problem (Box, 2004).


The law is particularly subjective in terms of what kinds of phenomena are to be designated as ‘crimes’ and often expands or contracts to meet the benefits of the most dominant groups in the social struggle because criminal policy is created by the powerful (Bohm, 1986). Indeed, definitions of both ‘crime’ and ‘criminality’ reinforce the underlying political arrangement and the balance of social forces (Garside, 2011). Rather than being a direct reflection of behaviours causing suffering to society, criminal law categories are constructs designed to criminalise only some behaviours, usually those committed by the powerless and thus excluding other actions that are committed by the powerful (Box, 2004). Indeed, it has been stipulated that acts and omissions currently defined as ‘crime’ within the UK, are ‘vast numbers of petty events which would score relatively low on scales of seriousness’ (Hillyard, 2004, pp.8).


As well as deciding what act constitutes a ‘crime’ the powerful have discretion as to how far this will be enforced. There is a presumption that all laws are enforced and are done so fairly however, this is certainly not the case (Bohm, 1986). It has been argued, that one should look accusingly at judicial ‘superiors’ for committing ‘crimes’ themselves and/or for protecting those who are the ‘real’ culprits of ‘crime’ (Box, 2004). Indeed, it is more important to look at the construction of ‘crime’ in terms of the behaviour of the state and their criminal policy, not the behaviour of the individual.


The stereotypes of ‘criminals’ portray young uneducated males, who are usually unemployed, live in a working class neighbourhood and are quite frequently from ethnic minorities (Box, 2004). The contribution that these individuals make to the ‘crime problem’ is less than official data implies (Box, 2004) but is used to divert public attention to the lower class as a scapegoat (Lea, 1984). This is problematic because it means that the ‘crimes of everyday life’ committed by the middles class do not appear in the governments rhetoric of ‘crime’, despite collectively causing a lot of damage and perhaps being more violent than street ‘crime’ (Karstedt, 2007). Such individuals are considered ‘the law-abiding majority’ ignoring the fact that most choose whether and when to abide by the law (Karstedt, 2007). To further worsen this, the middle class who often violate criminal laws, fail to see the impact of their behaviour and would certainly reject the label of a ‘criminal’ (Karstedt, 2007). This demonstrates that ‘crime’ is the product of power relations within society and whether conflict occurs relates to one’s social standing (Rosiers, 2004).

It is important to look at corporate and white-collar ‘crimes’, which have a detrimental impact on masses of people, yet remain largely outside of the formal procedures of the criminal justice system and the criminalisation process (Box, 2004). The impact of such ‘crimes’ are characterised as non-violent acts and hide behind intricate organisational structures of certain regulations (Lea, 1984) despite the fact that such acts exceed the harm caused by ‘conventional’ crime (Box, 2004).


Where a corporate body commits what would otherwise be called murder, the state officials play a significant role in minimizing the contributions of corporations through explanations of ‘disasters’ or ‘accidents’, despite the fact that such a death could have been easily avoided (Box, 2004). Clearly such actions are violations of the law however; they are treated as though they are not ‘crimes’ (Sutherland, 1984). This demonstrates that the law defines many ‘crimes’ but only chooses to process some, serving the interests of those who are in power and therefore suggesting that crime is a product of criminal policy (Lea, 1984).


The impact of power leads to a vicious cycle whereby those in power not only have the role in defining ‘crime’ but also the power to enforce it. The formal criminalisation process gives an unrealistic construction of what happened and therefore provides an unrealistic answer to the problem (Hulsman, 1991). Perhaps, as Hulsman (1986) and other abolitionists have suggested it may make more sense to consider alternative forms of social control, dealing with acts outside of the formal context of the criminal justice system (Haan, 1991). At present, society is so ingrained in the ‘crime’ paradigm that most acts are dealt with through formal institutions of criminal policy (Ruggiero, 2011). This lacks flexibility and as a result, definitions of issues and responses to them are extremely limited (Ruggiero, 2011). As an abolitionist and a belief that criminal policy produces ‘crime’, Hulsman (1986) proposes that we should abandon the notion of ‘crime’ and ‘criminality’ in order to find an alternative to the current system.


To some extent Hulsman is correct, we do not always need to use the concept of ‘crime’ because there are alternative ways in which undesirable behaviour could be dealt with (Ruggiero, 2011). Abolitionists stipulate that professionals who deal with ‘crime’ do not share the settings of conflicts and are convinced that all conflicts must be managed (Ruggiero, 2011). However, suggestions have been made that social problems and conflicts should instead be remedied in the context where they emerged, relating to those directly involved (Haan, 1991). There are several procedures, which could be used to deal with trouble, for example redress whereby issues are dealt with by asserting that an undesirable behaviour has taken place and that something should be done to solve it (Haan, 1991). Such an approach would provide flexibility whereby the nature of the act and penalty of the act can be defined and resolved after the event has occurred.  An alternative form of social control by Christie (2004) proposes that the introduction of ‘horizontal justice’ and abolition of the notion of ‘crime’ would be a valid form of social control because it excludes power conflicts. Such a system aims to create norms through a process of interaction with people of considerable equality and focuses upon compensation until everyone becomes equal (Christie, 2004).


Although these alternative styles of social control may be seen as more promising because they provide parties with the chance to participate in disputes and avoid the labelling of an individual through the criminalisation process, their real world relevance is questionable (Haan, 1991). These alternative forms of social control are often criticised for being too naive and idealistic since they may not be able to cope with the capacity of ‘crime’ (Haan, 1991). In primitive cultures where there was a lack of written codes of behaviour, these informal modes of control were sufficient (Klare, 1966). However, in our current sophisticated society where the opinions of the population are particularly diverse, formalised statues are necessary to define precisely, behaviours that are accepted and behaviours that are not (Klare, 1966).  Indeed, there are often sanctions that need to be subjected to legal restraints in order to put a stop to potentially infinite debates (Haan, 1991). This is not to say that all behaviour should be dealt with through criminal policy but as of yet there is no valid alternative, Hulsman himself has argued, “it is not possible to give a ready-made formula for alternative crime policies” (Hulsman, 1991, pp.708).


Although Hulsman may be correct in eradicating the notion of ‘crime’ and thus criminology as an academia, few could deny the importance of criminological theories and even fewer would challenge their limitations (Peelo & Soothill, 2005). If however, one did take Hulsman’s view and abandoned the notion of ‘crime’ it would have devastating consequences for criminologists who continually seek to describe ‘crime’ and ‘criminality’ (Newburn, 2007). Indeed, if we were to rid the focus of ‘crime’ and ‘criminals’ that underpins the study of criminology, the vast body of research would no longer be required.


It is now important to consider alternative criminological theories, in particular realists who focus on ‘crime’ in an inherently different way to Hulsman. Advocates of realism have argued that critical criminologists, such as Hulsman have little contribution to the study of ‘crime’ because they ignore the real impact that ‘crime’ has upon society, particularly those individuals who are vulnerable (Newburn, 2007). For realists ‘crime’, like many social constructs takes on a reality that is independent of the researcher (Matthews, 2009).  They therefore suggest that there is no point in contending the notion of ‘crime’ since it largely predates our apprehension of it (Matthew, 2009). Sayer (2000) argues that the mere recognition of how ‘crimes’ are socially constructed is of no relevance since it does not make it any easier to prove what a ‘crime’ actually is.


Instead of conducting a lengthy analysis as to what constitutes as ‘crime’, realists adopt a simplistic legal definition of ‘crime’ and propose instead to deal with the ‘crime’ problem and its causes, as it currently exists (Newburn, 2007). Wilson & Kelling (2003) realist proponents, with their broken window theory argue that if behaviour is left untended, one broken window will become many broken windows and disorderly behaviour will increase (Wilson & Kelling, 2003). Their belief is that ‘crime’ and deviance is a social problem and that the police and their law enforcement objectives must sustain unbroken windows, in order to control the ‘crime’ problem (Wilson & Kelling, 2003). Such a view contrasts from Hulsman because it takes the responsibility of ‘crime’ away from the state and does not contend the notion of ‘crime’. The view of realists may be the more preferred approach of social control because it aims to deal with ‘crime’ through the well-known formal criminalisation process of the justice system. However, realists are often criticised on their legalistic definition of ‘crime’ as it is treated as uncontested despite vast disagreements and suggestions that if crime is defined in such a way it is ‘little more than tautological’ (Garside, 2011).


In conclusion, it has been demonstrated that Hulsman to some extent is correct in suggesting that ‘crime’ is a product of criminal policy. Indeed his statement has highlighted the extensive difficulty in understanding what a ‘crime’ actually is and how it is constructed. As a result, his suggestion to abandon the notion of ‘crime’ may seem plausible since the criminalisation process can create ‘crime’. However, at present there is no valid alternative to criminal policy and as such the real world relevance of abandoning the notion of ‘crime’ and ‘criminality’ is therefore questionable. Furthermore, despite Hulsman’s claim having strong validity, it fails to deal with the ‘crime’ problem as it currently exists which, may not be favourable to the victims of ‘crime’.



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Hillyard et al (2005) have argued that the study of harm is more productive than the study of crime. Critically evaluate their critique of criminology and promotion of a social harm approach.

By Olly Bayliss

University of the West of England

Introduction & Contextualization

The limitations of studying crime as a signifier of harm have a long history (Muncie, 2013). A definition of what ‘crime’ actually is has proved problematic in the field of criminology. A definition of crime is hard to come by, as we shall see crime is not a self-evident and unitary concept. In the most basic terms, crime represents an infringement of criminal law, which is largely based upon an agreed consensus upon acts which are harmful (Henry, 2013).  In this vein, Sutherland (1937) defined criminology as the study of the making of laws, the breaking of laws, and society’s reaction to law breaking. Harm however can be defined as psychological, physical, environmental, financial or social and can be encompass a range of immoral, wrongful and injurious acts that may not be deemed illegal, but can be more profoundly damaging (Muncie, 2013).

By recognising the limitations of studying just ‘crime’ many academics began adopting a ‘social harm’ approach to their research. Sutherland for example in his study of white-collar crime began to include concepts such as ‘injury to the state’ and defining certain behaviours and events as ‘socially harmful’ (1949). Other criminologists such as Schwendinger and Schwendinger (1970) began to broaden the criminological gaze to include racism, sexism and economic exploitation – acts which then may not have been legal, were harmful nonetheless.

Since then, Hillyard et al (2004) began extending the boundaries for critical criminologists to widen the definitions of ‘crime’ and ‘harm’ in their own approach branded ‘zemiology’.  Hillyard and Tombs (2004) coined the term ‘zemiology’ (from the Greek word zemia, meaning harm) and in doing so they have since provided a critique of criminology itself and have promoted a social harm approach. This essay shall critically evaluate both, to argue that their critique of criminology enjoys only partial validity and although the study of ‘harm’ appears promising, it seems a case of rhetoric over reality. Hillyard et al are critical criminologists, evident in the way they challenge the nature of mainstream criminology and fundamentally question the notion of ‘crime’ itself. The authors offer 9 key criticisms to go beyond criminology and promote their new discipline.  These are as follows: Crime has no ontological reality; Criminology perpetuates the myth of crime; Crime consists of many petty events; Crime excludes many serious harms; Criminology constructs crimes; Criminalisation and punishment inflict pain; ‘Crime’ control is ineffective; ‘Crime’ encourages crime control and ‘Crime’ serves to maintain power relations (Hillyard et al, 2004:11-18). Due to word limitations, this essay shall focus on the ontological reality of crime, how criminology constructs ‘crimes’ and how ‘crime’ excludes many serious harms.

Crime has no ontological reality

Hillyard et al argue crime has ‘no ontological reality’ (2004:11) and that there is nothing intrinsically criminal to any event which happens. As Hulsman (1986) argues, the term ‘crime’ identifies a host of disputes and conflicts that have very little in common with each other beyond the fact that they involve some infraction of criminal law. The term represents a social construction that draws together acts that have different degrees of seriousness and causation, and which therefore require completely different solutions. Christie (2004) also argues that crime ultimately does not exist, only certain acts and whether or not these are deemed suitable to be described as a ‘crime’ is a matter of the historical and political context of any given state.  Box (1983)  suggests it is a term applied to characterise certain activities of the ‘poor’. The offences of the powerful, such as fraud and corruption, which often occasion a higher social cost to the public rarely fall within its remit (Slapper and Tombs, 1999).  Muncie is also critical of the boundaries of mainstream criminology, arguing its greatest and recurring limitation is that it allows state and legally defined conceptions of crime to run its agenda (2000).

Laslett (2010), although a proponent of a social harm approach, challenges this criticism made by Hillyard et al. Using Marxist philosophy, being (the focus of ontology) can be divided into three stages; the inorganic, the organic and the social. The latter is used to argue that the historical development of humans can attribute to things being. Therefore although there may be nothing intrinsically criminal to any criminal act, acts can acquire this characteristic as a result of the social complex in which they are situated, therefore they must have an ontological reality. This argument fails to recognise however crime changes over time under different political and social contexts (Christie, 2004).

Hillyard et al’s criticism is best supported by Hulsman, who argues there is nothing which distinguishes ‘criminal’ events intrinsically from other difficult or unpleasant situations. Hillyard et al illustrate this by drawing on the number of deaths each year in the UK from medical mistakes and errors (between 42,000 and 72,000) which are obvious examples of ‘difficult or unpleasant situations’ and comparing them with homicide which kills between 600-700 people in the UK per year (2004). This, as Hillyard et al stress, is not to say homicide is not of grave concern, it is merely to draw attention to areas not deemed ‘criminal’ due to the discursive construction of what is ‘criminal’. It is because of this Hulsman concludes, influencing Hillyard et al, that there is no ontological reality of crime (1986). This is not to say however the ontological reality of ‘harm’ is unproblematic, as shall be discussed later in the essay.

Constructing ‘crimes’

Another criticism forwarded by Hillyard et al is that criminal justice and criminology is focused on constructing ‘crimes’ (2004:14).  Hillyard et al criticise the extent to which the courts use mens rea – the guilty mind in deciding whether or not a crime has been committed. This is problematic as Hillyard et al argue it relies upon constructing an individual’s thoughts through examining their words and deeds and then drawing comparison as to the likely responses of what a (fictitious) ‘reasonable’ person would do. In doing so, criminal justice is very much restricted to the prosecution of individual’s, which ignores and excludes wider causes for harm to victims.

This criticism can be explored through the way criminologists and the CJS have struggled with the issue of ‘hate crime’. Combined data from the CSEW in 2011/12 recorded an average of 278,000 hate crimes per year (Home Office, 2013). Hate crime can be defined as: ‘any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic.’ These characteristics can include race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability. Hate crime has profoundly damaging physical and psychological effects upon its victims. Hate crimes rarely consist of one act; it usually entails a lengthy progress of more than one individual targeting its victims in a diverse manner of ways. Funnell (2013) talks of racism by stealth, by which individuals use subtle tactics to deliver racial hate such as whispering verbal abuse, so they cannot be caught. Even where hate crimes do not involve violence such as graffiti, vandalism or verbal harassment, they still have very distinct impacts on individual victims (Perry, 2003:18).

Due to the way ‘crimes’ are constructed into single acts or omissions, traditional mainstream criminology and criminal justice fail to capture the vast extent of harms caused by hate crime. This view is expressed by Bowling (1993) who argues to construct a hate crime, a dynamic process is required which can capture the social relationships between all the actors involved, the continuity across physical violence, threats and intimidation whilst capturing repeat victimization and the wider historical contexts. Should this be the case, the way the CJS currently constructs crimes cannot came close to effectively tackling the issue of hate crime. Not only this, but it has been recognized by Craig (2002) and Perry (2001; 2003) that criminology has failed in enhancing theoretical understandings of hate crime. Perry (2003) argues criminology has been much more preoccupied with the criminality and criminalization of minority groups, which Hillyard et (2004) al argue is evidence of criminology’s obsession with the myth of crime and those petty offences which are constructed with much less difficulty. Interestingly, Perry argues she would like to see hate crime scholars move beyond the confines of the CJS in the interests of alternative responses to hate crime (2003:44).

Crime excludes many serious harms

Hillyard et al assert that many events which cause serious harm are either not part of the criminal law or are either ignored or handled outside of it. They argue not only does a focus on crime deflect attention from other more socially pressing harms but in many respects it positively excludes them (2004:13). This point is captured by Box (1983) who suggests maybe what is in the collective consciousness of many regarding the crime problem is an illusion, a trick to deflect our attention away from the other, even more serious crimes and victimizing behaviours, which objectively cause the vast bulk of avoidable death, injury and deprivation.

In looking at ‘white-collar crime’ Sutherland (1948) incorporated acts that were defined as ‘socially injurious’ in law without confining his studies to infractions of criminal law. Whilst there is much corporate activity that is appropriately described as ‘criminal’, there is also a great deal of harmful activity which is not criminalised. ‘Crimes’ rarely result in sentences appropriate to the harm caused – large companies can afford the best lawyers and can work their way out of criminal proceedings or pay fines disproportionate to the harm caused (Gobert and Punch, 2003). Over the years 2009-12 there was an estimated average of 638,000 people annually who suffered a workplace injury of which an average of 164 per year were fatal (HSE, 2013). Tombs draws a link between workplace fatalities and homicide data, noting in Britain homicide will kill around 700-850 per year (2004:156). The HSE’s data attributes 70% of these deaths to ‘management failure’, implying there is a criminal element to these deaths. Companies pay an estimated 21% of the total cost of injury, the rest lies with the government and the victims themselves who pay the most (57%)(HSE, 2013). Criminology therefore appears to have failed to address the many serious harms which occur in the workplace and seems much more disproportionately focused on acts already deemed criminal which cause much less harm.

Contrary to their critique of criminology on the grounds that ‘crime’ excludes many serious harms is the expansion of ‘Green Criminology’. Green Criminology has looked to expand the boundaries of Criminological enquiry to incorporate environmental harms into criminal justice without abandoning the notion of crime. ‘Green’ criminologists have used the concept of harm to debate which harms to the environment should be criminalised. South (1998) identifies how misconduct by corporations and states which have consequences for the environment provide the first significant potential stream of work in this field. South also highlights how Green Criminology seeks to discuss where the boundary between criminal and non-criminal is to be drawn. ‘Green crimes’ can include crimes of air pollution, crimes of deforestation, crimes of water pollution and many more (Carrabine et al, 2009).  Walters (2008) criticises Hillyard et al’s book ‘Beyond Criminology’ for failing to include environmental harms. Hillyard et al are right in saying ‘crime excludes many serious harms’ (2004:12) however when used to criticise criminology, the authors fail to recognise criminology’s attempts to incorporate many of the harms they talk of.

Evaluating Hillyard et al’s Social Harm Approach

In an attempt to remedy the limitations the Zemiologists identify with criminology, Hillyard et al (2004) have outlined what their social harm approach would encompass. First, Hillyard et al (2004) suggest their social harm approach would include physical harms which do not currently fall under the remit of criminal law. These include death or serious injury in the workplace, or through exposure to environmental pollutants. In supporting this claim an entire chapter in Beyond Criminology is dedicated to workplace injury and death, discussed above. While it is valuable to draw greater attention to workplace injury and death, the authors fail to highlight the strength of their approach besides the mere study of harms. The authors say their approach allows consideration of corporate and collective responsibility (2004:22) yet little is said as to how this would look in practice. Punch (1996) warns when attempting to point the finger at who is responsible for a corporate crime, one must be cautious as many business decisions cannot be reconstructed to discover the motives and interaction of executives in a board-room meeting. Motives may be mixed; documents which appear in the public arena and are held to have been influential may not have played a highly significant role.  Reiman (2006) is also critical of this area of their approach, by asking how far the extent of moral responsibility for corporations which have caused harm should go. Are employees responsible as well as the managing directors?  In sum, Hillyard et al’s social harm perspective has done well in highlighting the disparities between physical harms such as those in the workplace and those which are criminal. When their approach is used to compare certain non-illegal harmful acts with crimes one could agree with their criticism of criminology in that much of its focus excludes many serious harms (2004:13). Their notion of corporate and collective responsibility however appears too problematic to be put into policy. In terms of exposure to environmental pollutants, Hillyard et al fail to recognise the emergence of Green Criminology which has attempted to bring harmful pollutants into the criminological gaze without abandoning the notion of ‘crime’.

The second part of Hillyard et al’s social harm approach is incorporating financial and economic harms such as poverty and various forms of property and cash loss (2004:19). According to the authors this involves the study of misappropriation of funds by government, fraud and the study of how unemployment and poverty affects individuals and societies. Again, Reiman criticises the potential of a social harm approach in meeting this claim, by questioning whether or a corporation producing goods and selling them at a much cheaper rate, driving local companies out of business, and their owners into poverty  amounts to a criminal act (2006). This is reflective of fears also expressed by Muncie, who argues if a social harm approach were to be integrated with criminology it will lead to the criminalisation of all ‘undesirable behaviours’. In doing so, newly recognised harms such as those mentioned by Hillyard et al risk propelling the criminal justice mainstream and further justifying its existence (2000:6).

Emotional and psychological harms are also identified as parts of Hillyard et al’s social harm approach (2004:20). The authors admit these harms are much more difficult to measure and relate to specific causes, yet in the case of their critique of the way ‘crimes’ are constructed, the authors approach seems much more productive in the study of hate crime. This is because rather than focusing upon the ‘crime’ aspect of hate crime, it can capture the continuum of harmful acts such as verbal abuse and graffiti which have adverse psychological and emotion effects upon its victims. In doing so a zemiological perspective can study people’s own perceptions of what such harms are (Hillyard et al, 2007:16). This is surely more productive as it can move beyond state definitions of what each ‘crime’ involves and gain real insight into what that crime and the harms it entails actually mean for its victims. Again however the social harm approach is hindered by the issue of responsibility that Reiman (2006) highlights, and little is said by Hillyard et al as to how this would be evoked into practice.

Another question related to their critique discussed earlier is the ontological reality of harm. Hillyard et al recognise that harm is no more definable than crime and that one could argue harm too has no ontological reality (2007:16). Although the harm approach does incorporate harms which criminology does not, these harms still have ontological issues. The financial, physical and psychological harms Hillyard et al say their approach will cover are, as Matthews and Young (1992) would argue, so relative that they would be inoperable in policy.  Reiman (2006) argues in this vein, that the zemiological perspective’s aim is to merely view crime in a new way. The author’s fail to recognise that if their approach were to be adopted, how its definitions of harm and its policy responses can be any less a matter of power relations than the current justice model. In their response to this Hillyard and Tombs (2007) suggest a harm approach will take into account people’s own expressions and perceptions of what harms are, which involves a field of inquiry defined by peoples’ understandings, perceptions and experiences rather than by a state. This serves to illustrate their underlying left-idealist agenda, Hillyard and Tombs have described such criticisms of harm as ‘overly pessimistic’ (2007:16). Reiman (2006) also picks up on this, criticising Hillyard et al for being clearly orientated toward the production of a more just world, but in a clear leftist manner, being unable to distinguish between their harm perspective and their own political commitments.


On balance, there is no denying the zemiological or social harm perspective has a lot to offer in terms of insight into areas previously unsanctioned or even considered as topics of debate under criminal law and criminology. A social harm approach when used to measure and compare harms, for example workplace injury versus homicide, can advance debate and further exploration of under-researched areas which inflict greater amounts of harm than that of which criminology as a discipline is narrowly focused. One emergent issue in this essay, which is echoed by Loader and Sparks (2004), is that in their criticism of criminology, Hillyard et al seem reluctant to acknowledge that much of the critique of criminalization and the limits of the term ‘crime’ has come from within criminology itself. We have also seen how criminology has attempted to expand to include harms such as those inflicted upon the environment through Green Criminology. In this vein, one can say Hillyard et al’s (2004) critique of criminology is limited in two ways: Firstly, many of the criticisms undermine the progress of criminology. Secondly, the promotion of a social harm approach does not fully remedy the limitations the authors identify – harm is just a new label under which acts which are not criminalised are brought to attention. Similar issues such as its ontological reality, the way it is experienced relatively and the matter of who decides which harms should be sanctioned need answering before one can promote the approach as an alternative to criminology. That said, the potential of the zemiological approach is evident in unearthing true meanings as to the real impact hate crime has upon its victims by abandoning traditional criminal justice constructions of crime, this would seem much more valuable in research and practice.

To conclude, it seems apparent that although Hillyard et al’s (2004) critique of criminology bears a lot of merit, their promotion of a social harm approach appears to be a case of rhetoric rather than reality and to agree with Reiman (2006) it seems to provide merely a new way of looking at crime. Hillyard et al (2004) appear to be much more concerned with their critique of criminology than building their social harm approach to replace and remedy the limitations they identify. For the harm perspective to fully live up to the expectations Hillyard et al (2004) propose, would involve a fundamental re-shaping of our current CJS. It is here one can raise further questions as to the overtly left-idealist themes which run throughout their criticisms and ‘solutions’ to ‘crime’ and criminal justice.

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Critically apply your knowledge and understanding of youth crime to the characters in the film ‘Ill Manors’, to offer explanations and understanding for their behaviour, circumstances and choices.

Lauren Davies De Montfort University

This piece will explore definitions of the term ‘youth’, with reference to both the social construction of young people, and also the criteria which enable a young individual to be called a ‘youth’. Furthermore, the social construction or beliefs surrounding ‘youth crime’, and the possible causes of it will also be discussed, in relation to theory, policy and statistics which both support and refute these beliefs. This piece will also discuss conflicting ideas as to whether ‘youths’ are primarily believed to be perpetrators of crime, even though some statistics show that they are also highly likely to be victims of crime. Any theoretical ideologies that are deemed relevant to the characters in the film will be discussed, aiming to explain how and why the youths depicted became involved in crime. After youth, and youth crime have been defined and explained, this piece will discuss these ideologies in relation to their application to the chosen characters, Chris and Jake in Ill Manors (2012), as well as any possible implications these beliefs have on provoking legislative change.  The Legislative framework behind the identification, prevention and responses to youth crime will also be examined, with a focus on the Youth Justice System, and how the relevant agencies within the YJS both prevent and also tackle crime perpetrated by youths. The specific roles of each agency mentioned in the above discussion, and the reasons behind their formation and separation from the main Criminal Justice System will also be examined, along with their effectiveness to date, and their presence and effectiveness within the film. The possible negative effects and connotations of discrimination, labelling and marginalisation of young people in society will also be addressed, with particular reference to any discriminatory practice by the Youth Justice System, and additionally any discriminatory bias that is sustained by public and societal beliefs.

First, this piece will define the word ‘youth’ as a general concept. Dean, in MacDonald (1997), amongst other academics (Squires and Stephen 2005; Bawdon 2009 in Robinson, in Kassem et al) writes that ‘youth’ is a socially fabricated definition. Furthermore, Dean (1997) writes that youth is the transitional stage between being a child and an adult, and between an individual being dependant and independent.  Dean (1997, p.56) further concludes that “’childhood’…is the term appropriate to the needy and disturbed; ‘youth’ is the term for the disruptive and dangerous; though the young person to whom the terms apply may be one and the same”. This perspective provides a possible definition of the term youth, which is relevant when discussing the issue of ‘youth crime’, as it is labelled by our justice agencies, and not ‘crime committed by children’.

Furthermore, Robinson, in Kassem at al (2009) cites the work of Bawdon (2009) stating that research by Bawdon concludes that the social construction of male youth is unanimously destructive in its portrayal of individuals as ‘thugs’ and ‘scum’. In addition, Bawdon also states that the construction of young males by the media is not an isolated definition, and suggests that the public therefore internalise such beliefs, and definitions of young males, or ‘youths’.

However, contrary to this widespread misconception that the majority of young people are involved in crime, the Home Office publication ‘Youth Crime Action Plan’ writes that young people are in fact the most likely group to be victimised, and also are more likely to be victims than they are to perpetrate crime. Other research correlates with this opinion, such as a publication by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010) which concluded that young people are 3 times more likely to be a victim of violent crimes.

Baldwin, Coles and Mitchell, in MacDonald (1997) write that the period of ‘youth’ and an individual’s resulting behaviour within that time is dependent on many personal shifts, in relation to education, work, relationships and independent living. However, the authors also note that these circumstantial changes are not just dependant on the actions of the young person, but also on the decisions that are predetermined by the authorities who govern social and economic policy during the time in which they live, and also the geographic area.

There are also certain risk factors which are believed to be the triggers upon which young people commit crime. Pitts (2001) discusses research by Farrington and West which identified the following categories as potential areas that could create risk factors for youth crime; prenatal factors, impulsivity, intelligence, parenting, separated or conflicting families, wealth, friend / peer groups, education and local neighbourhood.

The ‘pre-natal and perinatal’ factors could explain Chris’ predisposition to offending; Pitts (2001) writes that if a mother took drugs during pregnancy, and was single and on at best a low income then the child would be likely to be impulsive and use drugs during childhood, and also go on to offend at a later age.  The ‘parental supervision, discipline and attitude’ risk area also introduced by Farrington and West could also be applied to Chris’ criminal lifestyle. Pitts (2001) writes that the research by Farrington et al concluded that if parenting was inconsistent, and sometimes severe then the child could perhaps go on to commit violent crimes in later life. These predispositions to crime can both be applied to Chris, who as a result of his turbulent childhood in which he was both neglected and physically attacked goes on to commit violent crimes, and murder during the film.

The ‘Peer influences’ and ‘School influences’ risk categories could possibly be applied to Jake; in the film we do not see him wearing a school uniform, instead he is in his own clothes and is coerced into joining Marcel’s gang.  Farrington and West’s research concluded that young individuals who decrease or stop their involvement with peers was also simultaneous with a decrease in criminal activity (Pitts, 2001). The same research by Farrington et al also demonstrated that individuals who attended a ‘high delinquency’ school were more likely to become delinquent and perpetrate crime themselves (Pitts, 2001). However the view that this piece takes; that Jake did not attend school regularly, if at all is only based on suspicion and interpretation of the film.

Stephenson (2007) supports the belief that education can determine criminality in young people, writing that individuals who become removed and do not progress through education may lead to truanting, and subsequently turn to crime. The authors also note that at the end of compulsory education, which is 17 in the UK, young individuals may turn to crime if they do not continue in either education or work.

However, there is also research that deems the environment in which young people grow up to be a possible cause of criminality and delinquency. Sullivan (1989) writes that ‘youthful careers’ can establish in the local area and local market, both legitimate and illegitimate if there is a local of opportunity elsewhere, and also exclusion of youth from the wider job-market. Sullivan discusses the notion of ‘reciprocity and redistribution in the inner cities’; where those of low economic status and wealth share both wealth and crime in order to provide for themselves. Sullivan writes that the exclusion of these individuals from wider society and wider economies means that they form an economy that is individual to their area, however the author notes that this segregation also brings with it continued societal inequality, and therefore a continuation in criminal activity.

However, as well as evidence that suggests there are possible risk factors which can provoke young individuals to get involved with crime, there is also a substantial theoretical framework which can be used to explain why people also turn to crime. Whyte (2009) discusses Bandura’s (1977) ‘Social Learning Theory’, which proposes that an individual who perpetrates crime is likely to do so because of the experiences they had during childhood. Here, childhood experience is seen as a product of learned behaviour and outlooks. In relation to Chris, Social Learning Theory could be applied to explain that his criminal lifestyle is a result of the substance abuse, and violence he endured during his childhood.  Whyte (2009) also makes reference to Hirschi’s ‘Social Bonding Theory’ (1969), which concludes that young individuals who have high ‘attachment’ ‘commitment’ ‘involvement’ and ‘belief’ are not likely to commit crime. Furthermore, Whyte explains that these four personal characteristics are largely dependent on a child’s primary influences, such as their family. This theory could also be applied to Chris; he demonstrates a lack of emotion and is quick to become irate and aggressive, which is similar to Kirby’s personality, who was a father like figure for Chris during his childhood.

Marsh et al (2006) make reference to Rational Choice Theory, which denotes that all crime is committed if the individual beliefs that the rewards he or she will receive upon committing the offence, outweighs the risk and potential consequences of their actions. In addition, the authors write that an offender decides whether or not to commit a crime; and that specific crimes are perpetrated for individual reasons. In relation to Jake, this theory could explain his rapid increased involvement with Marcel’s gang, and subsequently with crime. Jake was taunted by Marcel’s gang at first, but then chose to gain their respect through committing acts of violent crime which then lead him to join them.

Shoemaker (2005) describes the work of Miller (1958) who provides an alternative theory that could possibly explain Jake’s involvement in crime; the Theory of Lower-class culture and delinquency. Shoemaker (2005) writes that Miller’s theory makes 6 suppositions as to why ‘lower-class’ individuals commit crime, specifically gang crime; ‘trouble, tough-ness, smartness, excitement, fate and autonomy’. Shoemaker notes that Miller (1958) assigns these principles to explain criminality, suggesting that they are the attributes which predispose, and eventually provoke a young individual to commit crime.  Additionally, Shoemaker (2005) writes that in homes where children lack a father or an alternative role model, they seek to find male role models elsewhere. Shoemaker (2005) suggests this can sometimes take the form of allegiance to a gang, this perspective could also explain Jake’s choices in the film. During the warehouse scene where Marcel’s gang are taunting a man they have kept hostage, the lyrics at the time are:

“He was born a Christian, All he worships now is a knife and idolism, Wise men’ll tell you with age comes wisdom, And you can’t be saved by religion unless you have faith, So it makes no difference to the youths that are raised in the system, Who don’t have age on their side, Or any positive role models in their lives that provide insight, So he ain’t gonna listen, As for Jake, he’s already made his decision” (Ill Manors, 2012, 29:59 – 30:19).

The lyrics above could be understood to imply that either Jake does not have his father around or that the woman we see in Jake’s house is not his mother but in fact that he has been in care or is now living with a guardian, which is in fact his grandmother.

However, as Pitts (2008) discusses, there are also societal and environmental causes of crime, blame cannot always solely be attributed to the individual. Pitts concludes that many individuals, who live in ‘poor’ or decrepit areas are seen as failures, who do not qualify for the privileges that are earned through socio-economic achievements, and are therefore their neighborhood is neglected from investment.  Furthermore, Pitts suggests that the ‘competence’ of these individuals, with regard to being equal to the rest of society is questioned by many, who discriminate against this group based on where they live.

At this point it is appropriate to discuss the negative effects that these beliefs and stereotypes have had on young people in the UK in recent years. Hughes, in Doolin et al (2011) concludes that there is a wide misconception by the public of how many youths are involved in crime; which is a minority of young people, as opposed to a significant number of that age population. Hughes (2011) quotes a survey published by NACRO in 2009, where respondents suggested that 47% of crime is perpetrated by young offenders, when in reality the number is only a quarter of that percentage. Hughes attributes these public beliefs to be a result of the introduction and high usage of the ASBO, stating that the introduction of this policy has led to a breakdown of community spirit, and subsequently hostility towards young people. Other academics (Scraton and Haydon, in Muncie et al 2002; Smith 2007) also support the belief that the widespread usage of ASBO’s, along with media attention and amplification of youth crime has led to discrimination and labelling of the young. Scraton and Haydon, in Muncie (2002) also discuss the negative consequences that high profile cases of young offending, such as the James Bulger case, has had on the treatment of young people in recent years.

Pfeiffer, Windzio, and Kleimann (2005) describe the relationship that the media has on both public opinion, and policy makers, writing that consistent media publications often lead to changes in public opinion, and therefore increased pressure on the Criminal Justice Agencies to make punitive changes.


The Children and Young Person’s Act (1933), Section 44, was the first substantial legislation to consider a child’s circumstances during prosecution,  stating that ‘provisions’ must be put in place to both protect and educate the child to desist from criminal activity. However, at the end of the 20th century statutes such as the Children Act (1989) and the Crime and Disorder Act (1991) ruled that the welfare of the child was a priority, and should be considered before a prosecution decision is made, this ideology is now referred to as the ‘just deserts’ principle (Haines and Drakeford, 1998).

However, the Government of the United Kingdom did not publish any significant legislation which acknowledged the effects of neglected and deteriorating neighbourhoods, amongst other societal issues on a child’s development and likelihood of offending, until the Misspent youth white paper (1996). The paper ruled that the residents of ‘high risk’, run-down neighbourhoods, inclusive of young people, should be encouraged to get involved with improving their local community, or at least consulted about the issues that are specific to them, for example crime.

The Crime and Disorder Act (1998) was the first piece of legislation, introduced by Labour, to bring about significant changes to the Criminal Justice System and Youth Justice System (Newburn, in Muncie et al 2002; Ghate and Ramella 2002).

The 1998 Act introduced a new formalised Youth Justice System, with numerous new agencies, such as the Youth Justice Board and Youth Offending Teams within it, and additional policies that would shape the new system and increase its effectiveness through management at a local level (Watkins, Johnson and Gibson 2010).

Gibson and Cavadino (2008) explain that there is a hierarchy within the Youth Justice System; the Youth Justice Board being the highest body, which directs the rest of the Youth Justice agencies; such as Youth Offending teams, ensuring that best practice is always followed, and that the system is as efficient and fair as it can be for young individuals. The Youth Offending Teams or YOT’s, according to Gibson and Cavadino (2008) are formed of local agency representatives who organise and maintain services for young people within their area. Finally, Youth Offending Panel’s, also introduced under the 1998 Act, were set up as a local agency, consisting of members of all criminal justice and healthcare agencies who would work in close contact with an assigned young individual, and provide interventions which aimed to prevent his or her recidivism (Gibson and Cavadino, 2008).

Brown (2005) further discusses the introductions of the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, writing that the role of Youth Offending Teams was to assess each individual case and the problems of that youth, and therefore issue practices which would help that specific individual. Brown (2005) writes that in addition to the work of YOT’s, local authorities were too obliged to form multi-agency teams who would from then on devise strategies specific to their local area.

Jamieson (2005) provides support for the various policies and non-custodial criminal sanctions introduced under the 1998 Act, writing that the Act was a clear demonstration of Labour’s dedication to tackling youth crime, and anti-social behaviour. Further commendation of ‘New Labour’ and the legislation introduced by them is provided by Muncie (1999) who states that around this time youth justice was reformed, and for the first time only the most active and risky offenders were incarcerated; with the remainder of young offenders receiving newly introduced community penalties and interventions. Muncie (1999) once again provides support for the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, maintaining that the legislation created a legal obligation for local government and both justice and voluntary agencies, such as the police, to address any significant issues of crime and its causes in their area. In addition, Muncie (1999) gives examples of a few specific statutory introductions, and praises them individually, in relation to the ideologies behind their formation, as well as how agencies conduct them.

In contrast, however, the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act has also come under criticism from academics such as Ellis and Boden (2005). The authors, making reference to research by Bailey and Williams (2000) and Holdaway et al (2001) conclude that Youth Offending Teams are not as efficient in practice as they appear on paper. The authors explain that there are numerous cultural and ideological conflicts between the relevant agencies that comprise the YOT’s, and that this in turn leads to further complications in implementing provisions for some individual cases.

However important these substantial legislative developments have been in creating the Youth Justice System we have today, they are not applicable to the characters of Chris and Jake in Ill Manors (2012). There is however, a great wealth of legislation that can be discussed in relation to the above characters, even though during the film it appears that the Justice and Health Systems did not intervene where the young people and children would have benefitted greatly from them doing so.

Goldson (2001) concludes that the majority of young people involved with the Youth Justice System are from disadvantaged or broken communities and families, which is in concordance with the risk factor research highlighted earlier in this piece (Sullivan 1989; Baldwin, Coles and Mitchell 1997; Pitts 2001). Furthermore, Goldson 2001 (p.78) writes that “The ‘young offender’ could just as readily be conceptualised as the ‘child in need’ if child welfare assessments and Children Act 1989 provisions were applied.” This discussion of the varying terminology used to refer to young people coincides with work discussed earlier by Dean (1997, p.56).

In 2003 the Labour Government introduced the green paper ‘Every Child Matters’, in which they reiterated that the welfare of a child is paramount, not just in relation to criminal prosecutions, but in society overall. The paper ruled that the authorities must make improvements in order to protect children, and to also ‘maximise the opportunities’ that young people have today. Williams (2004) writes that the Every Child Matters agenda stressed the importance of early preventative measures for all children, instead of simply responding to, and protecting those who are already neglected, abused or disadvantaged.  The author continues, stating that once again the policy document has acknowledged the need for young people to be involved in the development of legislation which relates to them. Reid (2010) publishes a similar view of the Every Child Matters green paper, writing that it recommends changes be made in the way that agencies work together to protect children, and that currently children can be missed or ignored by the procedures of numerous services involved in the Youth Justice System.

Legislative provisions introduced under the Children Act (1989) could have perhaps helped Chris during his childhood, by removing him from the dangerous environment which he grew up in, and subsequently he could have been deterred from perpetrating crime. Section 44, part 1 of the Act discusses an Emergency Protection Order, and states that an EPO can be made where there is reasonable suspicion that a child is being harmed, or is likely to be if he or she is not removed from their current surroundings Freeman, in Franklin (2001). If a social services worker applies to the Courts for this order, then the courts can grant it if “the applicant is making enquiries with respect to the child’s welfare; and those enquiries are being frustrated by access to the child being unreasonably refused” and if “the applicant has reasonable cause to believe that access to the child is required as a matter of urgency” (Children Act, 1989, Section 44, Part 1).

Allen (2005) explains further, writing that an Emergency Protection Order is an obligatory, temporary intervention which can be used while an investigation is conducted, after which a permanent intervention such as a Care or Supervision Order may be issued subject to the investigation findings.

However, there has also been a great wealth of criticism of the recent changes to the Youth Justice System, with some academics suggesting that it is increasingly punitive and discriminatory. MacDonald cited in MacDonald (1997) writes that legislation is increasingly controlling of the younger generations, including both those who are deemed as anti-social or a nuisance, and those who are not. Additionally, Riley (2007) implies that recent policy is discriminative towards young people, by suggesting that even though recent Governments have invested in tackling youth crime they have neglected the possible causes of crime. Furthermore, he writes that the UK Government has been too focused on attributing blame to the individuals rather than their circumstances and problems in wider society.

Further support for this criticism is provided by McAra and McVie (2007) who conclude that involvement with the Criminal Justice System, and the various punitive disposals within it, is no more effective in reducing recidivism, than it is in increasing the risk of further offending.

Muncie (2006) also argues that changes to the Youth Justice System have begun to marginalise young people; he discusses the closure of welfare systems, and concludes that his has been done with the intention of making individuals assume responsibility for their actions. This further demonstrates the authorities’ tendency to neglect the consequences of societal issues.

It could also be argued that in Ill Manors, Chris is subject to discrimination by the Police. At the end of the film Chris is pulled over by police officers who were following him, and whom suggested that they believed his front tyre tread was low. Here, we can only speculate as to whether this rationale was true or not, however it is important to acknowledge that in the film Chris also questions this observation too. If the justification for pulling Chris over, and conducting a stop and search was false, then the officers would have breached the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984). The PACE Act Code of Practice provides justification for the Stop and Search technique, stating that Stop and Search is used by officers to investigate suspicions without conducting a formal arrest (Bowling and Phillips, 2007).

Furthermore, the PACE Act Code of Practice (2012), part 1.1 explicitly states that the “The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for police officers to discriminate against, harass or victimise any person on the grounds of the ‘protected characteristics’”. These protected characteristics include sexuality, religion, and most relevant to this piece, race.

However, statistics such as the Police Research Series Paper 218 (Home Office, 2000) have shown that Stop and Search Powers are often misused in a discriminatory way, with Black Ethnic Minority individuals being 6 times as likely to be stopped under this procedure as White British individuals. Later statistics, documented in ‘Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System’ (Home Office, 2010) also recorded that people from Black Ethnic Minority groups were now 7 times more likely to be searched. Additionally, the 2010 Home Office statistics also note that while the total number of arrests for White-British people had decreased, in contrast, the total number for BEM groups had increased.

Waddington, Stenson and Don (2004) share this belief, concluding that members of the police force often manipulate this policy, and can therefore target and discriminate against certain populations, namely BEM groups as a result.

Another example of discrimination and marginalisation of young people, and the poor areas in which they may live in, is possibly suggested in Ill Manors (2012). Towards the end of the film, we see Chris throw his gun into the river, and in the distance is the O2 arena. Even though this conclusion is based on assumptions and inference, this scene particularly demonstrates the divide between investment in central London, and the neglect of the suburbs of the East End. The ‘Youth Matters’ white paper (2005) discusses how the Government wished to get young people involved in the 2012 Olympic Games, and encourage them to better themselves. However, in the context of Ill Manors it seems that the Circle Estate, and its young residents, such as Chris and Jake, have not been included in this vision, or any possible attempts to make it a reality.

In conclusion, the theories included in this piece are applicable to the selected characters. Social Learning Theory, in relation to Chris could completely explain his behaviour and life choices; what he witnessed as a Child, and the way Kirby took on the role of a father figure to Chris is likely to have shaped Chris’ beliefs about what is right or wrong. Social Learning and Social Bonding theories both justify this belief. Additionally, both the theory of Lower-class culture and delinquency, and Rational Choice Theory are eligible to be used as an explanation of Jake’s criminality.

Rational Choice Theory, when applied to the character Jake implies that Jake turns to crime because he sees Marcel and his gang as powerful, and successful. Jake’s behaviour and choices can also be explained through the application of the Lower-class culture and delinquency theory; which explains that young males subscribe to gangs because they are looking for an alternative role model to a father figure that may or may not be present at home. This theory too discusses individual characteristics, such as trouble, excitement and tough-ness which could perhaps lead a young person to commit crime. Even though we can only speculate that Jake is not attending school, if this is the case then he could be seeking other activities that he finds more interesting, and worth pursuing, to fill his time.

However, this piece has also acknowledged the impact of legislation on the lives of young people and the subsequent choices they make, including the decision to become involved in criminal activity. Research in this piece has also demonstrated that legislation is often triggered by public beliefs and pressure on Government, even though public beliefs, fuelled by media publications are not also representative of statistics, and therefore can lack validity.

The legislation that has been discussed in this piece would have perhaps been invaluable to the characters of Chris and Jake in Ill Manors, had the relevant authorities become involved with Chris earlier in his life through Social Services interventions, and additional Criminal Justice involvement and perhaps a successful prosecution of Kirby.

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Hillyard et al (2005) have argued that the study of harm is more productive than the study of crime. Critically evaluate their critique of criminology and promotion of a social harm approach.

Jack Spicer University of the West of England

Originating from Bristol University in the 1990s, a number of critical criminologists working from a social policy background began to question the worth of criminology and the associated criminological enterprise. For these academics, many of whom are sympathetic to abolitionism such as leading advocate Hillyard, the discipline is deeply flawed, widely unsuccessful, and due to being wedded to the state-defined notions of crime and criminal justice, feebly weak at dealing with the majority of harmful behaviour encountered throughout one’s lifetime. Such thinkers have promoted moving beyond criminology and creating a new discipline dubbed zemiology. This new approach centres on all social harms – defined as “injury or damage inflicted on society or social institutions either intentionally or unintentionally” (McLaughlin and Muncie, 2006, p.402), rather than purely harmful acts defined as criminal. This paper will therefore address Hillyard et al’s (2004) critique of criminology and subsequent promotion of a social harm approach, arguing that although the critique successfully highlights many of the undoubtable failings of the criminal justice system, and raises awkward issues for mainstream criminology, it is ultimately flawed and thus undermines the need and overall legitimacy of zemiology.

Numerous thought provoking and at times provocative papers have supported the promotion of such an approach. The anthology Beyond Criminology: Taking Harm Seriously (Hillyard et al 2004) serves as the accumulation of these early ideas. Within this important collection, the numerous contributors firstly attempt to provide a damning critique of criminology. Subsequent chapters are dedicated to outlining how specific areas that cause harm, some currently classified as criminal and some not, may benefit from a social harm approach. Themes running throughout the work include the harm capitalism can cause, especially when insufficiently regulated. As such, it arguably serves as an attractive alternative proposition for those on the political left compared to other left-wing criminological approaches.

This critique of criminology is broadly based on nine interrelated key criticisms (Hillyard and Tombs 2004). Firstly, it argues that crime has no ontological reality and is therefore a mythical social construct with crime and criminals nothing more than fictitious acts and characters. Such a position echoes influential critical work by scholars such as Christie (1977). Secondly, criminology is said to perpetuate the myth of crime because it is wedded to, and widely accepts, the problematic definitions and discourses that surround it. Thirdly, crime is seen ultimately to consist of many petty events the vast majority of which result in minor personal hardship (Hulsman 1986). Closely related to this the fourth criticism argues that crime excludes many serious harms because criminal law casts a very narrow gaze at the harms experienced throughout an individual’s lifetime. As such only a very small percentage of acts that cause harms are acknowledged, as they must fit into the narrow outlooks of the criminal justice system.  What is defined as criminal is also seen to serve as a distraction from serious harms often caused by corporations and the state. The fifth criticism is that crimes are essentially constructed acts, determined by complex and problematic legal rules and concepts such as mens rea.  Resonating again with the work of Christie (1982), the sixth critique argues that criminalisation and punishment serve solely to inflict pain rather than other notions such as deterrence and rehabilitation. This not only creates serious harm in itself but also reinforces unconstructive beliefs of how offenders should be treated. The seventh critique claims that crime control is ineffective.  This is due to continual failing of aims such as re-offending rates, along with the perceived irrationality of most incarcerations. Linking with this the eighth criticism is that the notion of crime gives legitimacy to the further expansion of the crime control approach and industry. This has led, amongst other things, to an excessive incarceration rate. The final critique is that crime serves to maintain the unequal power relations visible in society. The crime industry focuses heavily on those of a low socio-economic status whilst those in power decide subjectively, owing to a lack of intrinsic quality, what constitutes a criminal act. This makes it potentially open to abuse by the powerful few in society who may have self-serving interests. It has also become a staple tool used by politicians to gain support. The critique has been taken seriously among those within the academic community and is alluded to in major comprehensive criminology textbooks (Newburn 2007).

Word count constraints reduce the opportunity to evaluate each specific point in detail so a focused critical evaluation of some of the fundamental and key elements will be provided.

The grounding argument that crime has “no ontological reality” (Hillyard and Tombs, 2004, p.7) is very much open to debate.  Marxist scholar Lasslet (2010) challenges this assertion through a dialectical perspective, stating that claims made to the contrary are premature at best. Using classical Marxist philosophical texts it is argued that crime, along with all other phenomena, exists within a “system of things” (Ilyenkov (1982, p.118) that provides it with historical characteristics and definite mode of existence. Flaws in the argument can also be seen from a counter perspective. If the contention that crime does not have an ontological reality is accepted then comparable arguments can be made suggesting that social harms has no intrinsic value either (Mathews and Kauzlarich 2007). Indeed, it seems naïve for those challenging the ontological reality of crime to overlook the application of such reality to the phenomena being championing, especially as this approach will likely raise similar problems currently faced by criminology. The proposed benefits of abandoning the notion of crime and the harmful discourses associated with it, ideas clearly heavily linked and influenced by the works of Foucault (1982), are therefore potentially hampered.

These criticisms could be reduced however if a strong, clear and coherent definition of social harm was offered by those advocating zemiology but historically, as with many sociological concepts, this has been problematic. However, a commitment to define the concept on which their whole approach is based is lacking. Nevertheless, many early influential works that challenge the definitions of crime are seen to inspire their cause, demonstrating a strong body of literature behind the concepts they promote. Sellin (1938) argued that in order for criminology to be regarded as a science it must free itself from the purely state defined topic of inquiry. Other early likeminded work includes Schweindinger and Schweindinger (1970) who argued that definitions of crime should be established in line with human rights. This would provide some form of unification of what is defined and viewed as harm across different societies, and would include crimes committed by the state as well as crimes against the state.

Attempts at definition by Hillyard et al (2004) refer to four main elements that can be considered social harms namely – physical, financial, emotional and cultural safety. However, they fail to provide a rationale or examples of how certain events could fit into these categories.  Other potential solutions to the problems of definition include Pemberton’s (2007, p.37) innovative response that “an individual is harmed through the non-fulfilment of their needs”. Although attractive in its simplicity, it relies heavily on Doyle and Gough’s normative framework (1990) to clarify what is meant by ‘non-fulfilment of needs’, something not exempt from criticism in itself. The definition can ultimately however be criticised as confusing harm with injustice, which although linked are certainly not the same (Lasslet 2010). Further complications regarding the definition of social harm have arisen with academics such as Muncie (2000) aiming to construct a set of discourses to replace the problematic ones found in criminology. It is argued that this is done by deconstructing the signifiers of harm. Although this effort is arguably worthwhile and valid, it unfortunately serves to muddy the already murky waters of definition, at least at the present time. Ultimately, Hillaye the difficulties in defining or indeed integrating an appropriate definition of social harm can be seen to weaken the whole zemiological body of work. Its main aims and objectives, and the broad range of behaviour a social harm approach aims to incorporate could also be compromised and undermined if such an approach was ever undertaken, as the broad terms and discourses currently used regarding harm are arguably open to abuse by the powerful to further their self-interest.

Dismissing crime as a ‘myth’ overlooks the significance of crime and the discourses that have arisen from it regarding our understanding of modern society. The notion of crime is often seen as a fundamental way for many within society to comprehend the constant undesirable circumstances that occur (Pemberton 2010). Eradicating the use of the word crime ignores this important concept and removes the potential of using crime as a tool for understanding. Perhaps more importantly however is the failure to identify that crime is indeed a harsh reality in the lives of many. It could therefore be argued that a social harm perspective downplays the importance of crime, especially in the lives of the marginalised. It could also be contended, in line with the thoughts of many left realists, that abandoning the notion of crime ultimately constitutes abandoning those constantly affected by crime (Mathews and Young 1986).

The way in which Hilyard et al (2004) represent criminology as a discipline is also highly questionable, and this impacts substantially on the legitimacy of their overall critique. Criminology is portrayed by an arguably overly pessimistic view that ignores the clear and important contemporary advancements made within criminological study and knowledge. Indeed the discipline alluded to in their critique is often not so much a realistic and fair reflection on criminology, but a parody of its body of work (Hughes 2007). Too often within the critique, criminology is conveyed as being dominated by neo-liberal, positivist and legalistic discourses. For example, there is no mention of the rise in popularity and use of restorative justice – increasingly proven effective in numerous areas of the criminal justice system such as incarceration (Edgar and Newell 2013). Prisons are portrayed in the critique as institutions solely concentrated on inflicting pain on offenders, rather than places of rehabilitation or even just desserts. This leads to an overly simplistic view of the discipline that does not take into account all of the influential work that has successfully challenged these often-outdated approaches. Ultimately, Hillyard et al (2004) can be criticised for building a straw-man argument regarding the inadequacies of criminology, which has obvious repercussions regarding the legitimacy and overall strength of their critique. Hilyard’s (2013) response to these accusations is dismissive; refusing to acknowledge that the picture painted of criminology is in anyway a misleading representation.

This argument should not be considered as being complacent with the current state of criminology or as overlooking the fact that Hillyard et al (2004) ultimately want a completely new discipline.  Instead, it seeks to recognise that notable progress has been made within mainstream and critical criminology, and that there remains opportunity to keep on doing so. Hughes (2006) highlights this point by two simple, yet effective examples. Firstly he points out that the British Society of Criminology, an organisation viewed as a “bastion of mainstream criminology” (Hughes, 2006, p.158) has regularly awarded accolades to works of a critical nature in recent times. Secondly, he argues through a historical perspective that the influence of the progressive work of critical theorists such as Cohen (1988) and Foucault (1989), over theoretical and methodological developments is far greater than that achieved by administrative criminology. This is perhaps a slightly ironic admission by those promoting a Zemiology as their work is clearly influenced by Foucault’s (1980) notions of creating power through discourses. Another important aspect to consider is that the progressive work of critical criminologists is seen to have had a significant influence on mainstream criminology. Indeed much of their efforts are argued to have made important steps in ideas of reconceptualising crime, and deepening knowledge in areas such as state and corporate crime (Muncie 2005). This therefore gives credence to the potential of criminology in broadening the areas of harm it focuses on; something claimed to only be possible under a social harm approach. It also directly challenges the argument that because of the power-knowledge nexus between criminology and the criminal justice system the potential for progressive reform will always be limited. If it is not too bold to appropriate the title of their anthology, perhaps we have indeed already ‘moved beyond criminology’ when examining the vast progress the discipline has made in a relatively short space of time. Certainly the situation criminology now finds itself in and its associated work and discourses, is unrecognisable compared to the not so distant time of thinkers such as Lombroso and Ferrero (2003).

The biggest problem in evaluating the promotion of a social harm approach is that very little is said in the work of how this would be achieved. There is also a reluctance to go into any detail regarding what such an approach would look like and how it would function. As Loader and Sparks (2010) point out in one of their main criticisms of the work, a disproportionate amount of effort goes into criticising criminology compared to effort on the system that they believe should be replacing it. It is understandable that those promoting such an approach would want to be as critical of criminology as possible as doing so facilitates legitimacy and purpose for what they are aiming to achieve. The failure to present even a basic outline for a social harm approach however, severely hampers the legitimacy of the movement and calls into question the reality of implementing such a system. Many of the criticisms of theories such as Marxist criminology also seem relevant to zemiology; idealism, the understanding of human nature and the potentially naïve belief that society would embrace what would essentially be a new world order (Mathews and Young 1986; Sparks 1980). Other key issues not discussed include the need for someone still to be in power with the associated accountability of such a role, and where the responsibility for harm would be allocated without the notion of crime and the concept of criminal intent (Pemberton 2010).

The content of what is said regarding the promotion of such an approach is marred by inconsistencies and contradictions (Loader and Sparks 2010). In one section, zemiology is described as not necessarily having any “superiority over criminology” (Hillyard and Tombs, 2004, pp.27). This statement is problematic on two accounts. Firstly, if such is the case then their efforts and the overall need for such an approach seem futile and unnecessary.  Secondly, the statement seems to contradict most of what else is said by its advocates. It is argued that one of the fundamental benefits of such an approach is that it incorporates much of what criminology does not, a belief that certainly appears to imply that zemiology is superior. Ironically, this quote also directly contradicts the statement on which this essay is based, that social harm is a more productive study than crime.  To his credit, Hillyard (2013) accepts this criticism and recognises the mistake. The frequently used phrase “moving beyond criminology” is also arguably misleading. Hillyard et al (2004) do not suggest that they wish to incorporate what has been learnt within criminology and use it to further the potential of their discipline. Instead, a more fitting description of their approach seems to be an abandonment of criminology. Indeed this seems to be better suited to most of their propositions, such as discontinuing the use of the word crime and its associated terms.


Another central hindrance of zemiology’s collective promotion of a social harm approach is that while it claims to be innovative and groundbreaking, in reality the areas covered are already the topic for much critical scholarship (Hughes 2006). The claims that their approach covers new ground, previously inaccessible to those bound by the restrictive chains of criminology, is therefore problematic as many of the areas they touch upon have already been the source of influential critical study. Ward’s (2004) section on State Harms for example can be criticised for failing to address original areas not already covered in existing literature, and for providing far less detail than other works on the subject such as Doig (2011). This criticism is compounded considering that the writer is regarded as one of the leading authorities on the subject. Perhaps most notable about this chapter however is the reluctance of the author to abandon the state crime discourse. While a call is made to address state harms within a new field, Ward fails to embrace a full social harm approach (Walters 2008). Doing so not only upsets the general trajectory of the anthology, but also casts serious doubts over the realities and practicalities of implementing the social harm approach championed by the fellow writers.  The few pieces of work that do show originality in promoting such an approach can however be criticised for being underdeveloped. Dowling’s (2004) admittedly innovative study  regarding the relationship between the neo-liberal economic policies of the Thatcher premiership and murder rates, for example, does not develop an argument strong enough to validate the bold conclusion that the Conservative government, and those who voted for them, are responsible for most of the murders in Britain.

Zemiology’s position on drugs is a good example of the nature of their overall work and the flaws associated with it. They rightly point out the irrationality of current drug policy, alluding to the influential Nutt et al harm scale (2007), which shows that legal drugs such as alcohol are more harmful than most illegal drugs. These arguments have long been noted within criminology however and are far from being original work of the social harm movement. Their argument could have been furthered by outlining the contention that by making drugs illegal more harm has been caused than the harm the laws are trying to prevent (Kerr et. al 2006),but this is not alluded to. Even though organisations such as Transform have outlined a comprehensive regulation system for all substances (Rolles 2009), those promoting zemiology give no indication of their position or how a social harm approach may help to rectify the problem. Admittedly, this could be attributed to the fact that zemiology is a new and emerging approach. However, by acknowledging the problematic way the criminal justice system currently deals with drugs, one could rightfully feel dissatisfied that these ideas have not been developed further. Especially since a social harm approach has arguably a unique opportunity to connect the work and analysis of numerous disciplines, such as neuroscience, for an evidence based harm reduction approach.

Although the promotion of zemiology is undeniably thought provoking and asks some searching questions of mainstream criminology it is clearly flawed. The numerous problems regarding the definitions of social harm and crime undermine the perceived benefits of a social harm approach, as well as their overall critique of criminology. The critiques legitimacy is also seriously problematic due to the straw man argument it generates from the unrealistic way criminology is portrayed. The issues it raises regarding power, which run consistently throughout the work, are perhaps its strongest line of argument. Even this is not exempt from flaws however as many areas are likely to be dogged by inequality and elitism, regardless of what approach is undertaken. The promotion of such an approach is given such little attention that it almost impossible to envision how their social harm approach would function. Ultimately zemiology seems best suited as a tool to stimulate important debates regarding the inadequacies of the criminal justice system, alongside making significant contributions to the discourses associated with the criminological enterprise. As such it seems destined to be bound within academic obscurity, rather than ever being truly considered a feasible alternative to the current system.

Word Count: 3286



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The Dnagerous Myth of ‘Gangland Britain’ By Olly Bayliss University of the West of England


Figure 1: Source: Cole, J. (2011)

Table of Contents

A Brief History of ‘Gang’ Research
Defining a ‘gang’
UK Gang Research & Definitions

The Fantasy – Media representations, Moral Panic and the 2011 Riots                                    

The Reality – Demographics, research and psycho-sociological explanations                          
Prevalence                                                                                                                                               .
Extent of Criminal Activity
Who are the victims?

Social Psychological Explanations
Gang Joining
Gang Violence

Limitations of Gang Research                                                                                                           

The Implications of Accepting the Myth                                                                                         

Case Study: The Example of ‘Chavs’
List of Images                                                                                                                                       




The British media would lead many to believe that Britain has been overrun by a relatively new rise of ‘gangs’. David Cameron has attributed gang culture as the primary cause of the riots which swept London and several other UK cities in August 2011, which as this booklet shall argue, has led to suppressive policy which seeks to further demonize young people, particularly those from ethnic minority communities. Gangs have become a fascination for the British media in the news, book publications and ‘documentaries’.







Figure 2 how the newspapers headlined the London riots. Source Guardian (2011)

This booklet shall argue not only argue the media and politicians are guilty of perpetuating the ill-founded claims that most violence among young people can be attributed to that of the ‘gang’, academics are too. This is not to say however that there are groups in the UK which can come to be defined as ‘gangs’ and that these groups do commit crime. The purpose of this booklet is not to delve deep into the rationales for young people to join ‘gangs’ nor is it to explore whatever ‘risk factors’ there may be (although an overview shall be provided).  This booklet shall instead explore the dangers of accepting that ‘gangs’ have some form of granted ontological reality just because they are accepted by the bulk of youth crime discourse.

A Brief History of ‘Gang’ Research


Defining a ‘gang’


Ever since the first academic study of gangs in 1927 by Thrasher who depicted the youth gang as a network of ‘wild’ ‘unsupervised’ adolescents who were socialised by the streets (Thrasher, 1927 in Pitts, 2008:26) academics, practitioners and policy makers have fought the issue of defining a gang and differentiating them from other groups of people. Historically, definitions of gangs in academia were very much a product of the wider changes in the sociology of deviance. The ‘appreciative’ stance toward deviance forwarded by Matza (1969) which sought explanations to deviance through the eyes of the individual’s interplay with social surroundings led to definitions of gangs which did not place ‘crime’ at the centre of their definition. One example is Short (1965) who defined gangs as; ‘groups who’s members meet together with some regularity over time, on the basis of group-defined criteria of membership and group defined organizational characteristics’  (Short, 1965).

These definitions which provide some degree of sympathy to the study of those within gangs now seem a thing of the past, and more contemporary definitions of gangs seem transfixed with the ‘criminal’ element of the gang. These ‘correctional’ definitions of gangs are what Pitts argues are reflective of the political climate at the time during the 1960’s where academic research begun to support the ‘fight’ against gangs which was a key element in Ronald Reagan’s ‘War on Drugs’ (Pitts, 2008:28). More recent definitions therefore place much more emphasis on the criminal element of gangs, one of which belongs to Miller (1982): ‘ A group of recurrently associating individuals with identifiable leadership and internal organisation, identifying or claiming control over territory in the community, and engaging either individually or collectively in violent or other forms of illegal behaviour’. This way of defining social phenomenon the way the politics of the time depicts has long been criticised by Howard Becker, who in ‘Whose Side Are We On’ (1963) writes of the moral obligation social scientists have to ‘tell it like it is’ from a bottom-up perspective and not allow those in power to run definitional agendas. Evidently this has not been taken into account by ‘gang’ researchers since the 1960’s. This debate shall be furthered toward the end of the booklet, but for now a brief history of gangs and gang research in the UK shall be provided.




UK Gang Research & Definitions


Historically, gangs were seen as an American problem; they did not feature as a subject that commanded a great deal of attention from European criminologists (Hallsworth, 2013). Cultural theorists such as Hall and Jefferson (1976) and Hedbidge (1979) instead opted to research youth subcultures, which best explained the British condition with the emergence of notable subcultures such as the ‘mods’ and ‘rockers’ and the ‘teddy boys’ who were blamed by the media for much violence in the post war period. Due to this subcultural gaze, little is known about street ‘gangs’ in Britain (Hallsworth and Young, 2013; Klein et al, 2001:12).


Figure 3 ‘Mods’ Source:: theblogofmowr (2011)

Klein et al (2001) have attempted to compare gangs in the US with the UK situation, which showed there was little resemblance between the gang problem in these two counties. Studies such as Bullock and Tilley (2002), Sharp et al (2006) and Pitts (2008) highlight how gangs do indeed exist in the UK, but are of very different nature. This shall be discussed in further detail below in part 3 of this booklet.

A popular contemporary UK definition of gangs which this booklet shall adhere to, was formulated by Hallsworth and Young (2004) as part of the Home Office working group/Eurogang Project as: ‘A relatively durable, predominantly street-based group of young people who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group for whom crime and violence is integral to the groups identity.’ This definition shall be applied throughout the booklet whenever there is reference to the term ‘gang’ in order to argue although such groups do exist and can be held accountable for some crimes including violent crimes, the extent of this is often overstated by the media and is overrepresented in research.



The Fantasy – Media representations, Moral Panic and the 2011 Riots


Figure 4: Source: The Mirror Online (2011)

The British media has long had a fascination with ‘gang’ violence. It seems appropriate that Stan Cohen’s influential text which first introduced the concept of ‘moral panic’ was in relation to youth subcultures in his book ‘Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers’ in which serious violence associated with these subcultures in Clacton in Easter of 1964 were brutally overstated by the media (Cohen, 1972). It has been argued that whether or not the sensational and saturated media coverage gangs have received in recent years surmounts as enough to justify being terms a moral panic is a moot question (Hallsworth and Young, 2008:182). However, the media and public reaction to the recent riots in London and other UK cities in August 2011 can perhaps provide new evidence to support the assertation that gangs in the UK constitute a moral panic.

The British media has tended to apply the label ‘gang’ uncritically to any group that appears to ‘occasion social disquiet’ (Hallsworth and Young, 2008:182). Tabloids such as the Mirror headlined in light of the riots; ‘UK riots: Inside the deadly world of gangs’ (The Mirror, 2011) the moral panic soon spread overseas, with one American writer for the New York Daily remarking ‘British youths are ‘the most unpleasant and violent in the world’ in an article entitled ‘Behind England’s riots, a violent and entitled generation of British young people’ (Daniels, 2011).
In assessing whether or not the concept of ‘moral panic’ can be applied to the riots, one must turn to the research. After initially claiming as many as 28% of those arrested in London were gang members, the metropolitan police revised this to 19%, which reduced the country wide arrests related to the riots to 13%. Although police statistics too often prove to be problematic, in ‘Reading the Riots’ the authors suggest they were right to drop this estimate, arguing although gangs may have played an important role, there is little indication that they were orchestrating the riots (Lewis et al, 2012:21).  In ‘Reading the Riots’ it was found that the contribution of gangs to the violence during the riots was largely overstated and it was also noted that many rival gangs operated a truce during the time of rioting in order to focus on a shared objective which was both economic and political in the form of ‘getting back’ at authority.





Figure 5: Source: BBC (2011)


In light of the riots, it didn’t take long for the government to find a ‘folk devil’. Prime Minister David Cameron was quick to attribute gangs to the violence, stating; “Gangs were at the heart of the protests and have been behind the co-ordinated attacks” (Cameron, 2011). Cameron went on to ask Home Secretary Theresa May to work with Bill Bratton, former chief of police in New York and Los Angeles on how to combat gangs (Wintour, 2011). This is an example of a Prime Minister accepting the notion that the gang situation in the US is somewhat similar to that of the UK. Hallsworth and Brotherton (2011) are critical of this, as they argue suppressive US style gang policy, characterized by ‘zero tolerance’ policing honed by Bratton, shall only result in the further marginalization of those within gangs, particularly black minority youth.

The Reality – Demographics, research and psycho-sociological explanations



Figure 6: Source: Sewell, A. in Daily Mail (2009)

The reality is that there are gangs in the UK. Some of which are capable of great violence. Hallsworth and Brotherton argue they have always been a part of our society which has had a long history of collective violence (2013:13). The UK gangs however are far more fluid and complex than the myth of the well-structured group in which those proponents of the gang myth would claim (Alexander, 2008). This section seeks to give an overview of the UK situation of gangs and provide general demographics along with important studies, which shall contribute to the argument that the media, policy makers and academics, overstate the problem by discussing and representing gangs uncritically as a given reality on the street. What the demographics from the literature highlight however is that there is great variation between different studies and locations.



Whatever definition is applied, surveys on gang membership show that although gangs do exist, they are relatively rare in the UK (Hallsworth and Young, 2008:178). A notable Home Office study examining extent of gang membership (Sharp et al, 2006) showed that no more than 6% of 5331 young people could be classified as part of ‘delinquent youth groups’. In another study of 2725 people as part of the New English & Welsh Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Programme (NEW-ADAM) only 15% of arrestees had experience of gang life and from this only 4% claimed to be current members of a gang (Bennett and Holloway, 2004).  This would suggest youth gangs are nowhere near as prevalent as the media and politicians would have you think. A review of the gang research in the UK would suggest gang membership only consists of between 3 and 7% of the whole youthful population (Hallsworth and Young, 2008).


Gangs in the UK are predominantly male. Sharp et al (2006) found 48% of those surveyed said their group mostly consisted of boys, 42% claimed half boys and half girls and only 10% claimed their delinquent youth group consisted of ‘mostly girls’.


Figure 7: Source: The Guardian (2014)

Young (2009) talks of ‘Shemale gangsters’ where gang membership in her study was just as common for girls and boys aged 10-19 but females peaked between 13 and 15 then tailed off.



Gang members vary in age, most fall within the 18-24 category but they can be as young as ten or as old as 50 Pitts (2008). The Home Office study by Sharp et al (2006) revealed involvement in delinquent youth groups was highest among 14-15 year olds.





Figure 8: Source: hood-lum (2011)

According to Smithson et al (2013) ethnicity is the most widely discussed yet little studied aspect of gangs. Ethnicity and gang membership varies across cities but are usually reflective of the ethnic make-up of the surrounding areas (Pitts, 2008). Therefore, according to Stelfox (1998), 2/3 of gang members in the UK are white but Bullock and Tilley (2002) however found in Manchester 79% of gang members sampled to be afro-Caribbean or mixed race.


Research suggests gang structures are typically loose found to be loose, with no discernible leader (Bullock and Tilley, 2002). Decker (2001) also found gangs are often disorganized and typically do not have leaders. Sharp et al (2006) 38% said group had a leader only 15% said groups had rules or codes for members, again, evidence runs contrary to the myth that gangs are well-structured, and  claims that they are ‘hierarchical’ (Cameron, 2011).

Extent of Criminal Activity



Figure 9: Source: The Telegraph (2011)

Gang members have higher levels of delinquency than non-gang members (Bullock and Tilley (2002). In Sharp et al (2006) 63% of those belonging to delinquent youth groups (DYG’s) committed a ‘core offence’ such as robbery, assault, theft, and criminal damage in the last year which was significantly higher than non-members (26%). Although gang members are involved in violent offending, most of their criminal activities, according to Sharp et al lie in drug use (51% in the last year).  Drug dealing, although a characteristic of gangs in common discourse only constituted 18% of DYG members. Other non-serious offences were common such as threatening people (40%) and criminal damage (31%). Violent offences constituted 29% of the sample. An issue revealed in Sharp et al was that it was impossible to distinguish which crimes were committed by individuals that happened to be part of a DYG or by the DYG itself. This is a key limitation in research into violence by gangs, as not all violence by gang members is gang related (Jankowski, 1991).

Who are the victims?

Victims are usually other gang members or those with some affiliation to gangs (Pitts, 2008). This was also found in Bullock and Tilley (2002) where in Manchester the victims of gang violence and shootings usually shared the same characteristics as their perpetrator, particularly gang involvement.  This questions the government’s tradition of suppressing gangs and gang members, where the research suggests they are actually at most risk of victimisation.

Social Psychological Explanations

What gang research does show us is that there are many complex reasons for young people to join gangs and then within the gang there are many reasons for violence which also often contrasts popular gang discourse.

Gang Joining

Risk factors commonly associated with young gang members in gang research includes instability within the family (Decker and van Winkle, 1996) and instability within the community (Howell and Egley, 2005).  For Thornberry and Krohn (2003), the weakening of conventional bonds (e.g. parental and school attachment) elevates risk for antisocial influences (delinquent peer association) and the internalization of antisocial values (delinquent beliefs). The most pertinent risk factor for gang involvement however has traditionally been identified as socio-economic status and location (Klein et al, 2001). The defining characteristic of the areas in which gangs often emerge is that they are poor. Areas of high unemployment, particularly youth unemployment and areas of poor social housing and failing schools are the areas which produce the most gangs (Hallsworth and Brotherton, 2011). Klein (1995) suggests the gang often appeals to those individuals who are already more prone to aggressive behaviour and an over-adherence to masculine values. Masculinity is said to be an important theme amongst British street gangs in particular (Klein et al, 2001). For Pitts, young people may reluctantly join violent gangs in fear of their own victimisation in areas where the police are not trusted as a source of safety for many ethnic minority groups (Pitts, 2008).

Gang Violence

Howell and his Egley (2005) argue the link between physical aggression in childhood and violence in adolescence is particularly strong. Those who are involved in delinquency, violence and drug use are at a much higher risk of joining violent gangs.


Figure 10: Source: Daily Mail (2010)

Klein and Maxson (2006) argue violence is not something gangs specialise in, adding collective gang violence is a relatively rare occurrence and is usually disorganised. This matches claims made by Pitts (2008) however in his study violence had an instrumental function in the drug market and was arguably more organised. Nondelinquent problem behaviours e.g. impulsivity, perception of negative life events such as illness and attitudes toward delinquent behaviour are also considered important risk factors for both gang joining and gang violence.

Limitations of Gang Research 

What shall now be provided is a critique of gang research such as those studies cited above. This is not to ignore the fact that those studies as they have managed to shed considerable light on those groups which do cause a great deal of harm in the UK.

Hallsworth and Young are at the forefront of criticism of the ‘gangland Britain’ thesis, and offer a 5 point critique of popular gang discourse or what they term ‘gang talk’ (Hallsworth and Young, 2008).  Their argument shall now be provided with examples to illustrate them.

  • Empirical case not proven
    One would think that due to gangs being talked about a lot in the media, amongst politicians, the public and researchers that there would be some truth in the claim that gangs have undergone a recent proliferation in the UK however based on the evidence, this is not the case. As we saw earlier, only 6% of those interviewed out of 5331 people in the Home Office study cited earlier reported being part of a ‘delinquent youth group’.
  • The attention the gang receives reflects the often inaccurate media portrayals than it does the objective reality of the street
    The label gang is all too often applied uncritically to any group that has been recognised to ‘occasion social disquiet’ (2008:187). People interviewed about gangs in the news are done so without any questioning of the term itself and usually entail leading questions: ‘it’s all about the gang isn’t it?’
  • The term ‘gang’ is not a neutral descriptive of the reality of the street world; it comes with ideological baggage from which it cannot be disarticulated.
    ‘Gang’ is a loaded term. Perhaps in the days of the Chicago school and Thrasher it was considered more fairly. Now, one can argue, gangs, in the UK, now form another
    neat selling point for politicians in agenda setting e.g. being ‘Tough on gangs’. Comparisons are made below between the terms ‘gang’ and ‘chav’, the media have clear perceptions of who constitutes a chav or a gangster. The former usually represents unemployed, anti-social members of the working class whereas gangs are usually represented as groups of young afro-Caribbean delinquents.
  • Instead of confronting the mystifying gaze of the mass media, researchers are all too eager to accept the notion of gangs into their research.

Gang research, according to Hallsworth and Young, grew out of two convictions.
1. A shift in the defining feature of the gang away from the appreciative definitions grounded in thinking influenced by Thrasher and the Chicago school which focused on the structural entities (gangs) which emerged from disorganized communities (1927). A shift from these definitions to the more correctional definitions which focus on crime as the gangs raison d’être influenced by the wider political climates such as the ‘tough on crime’ Regan era of the 1970’s meant gang research took on a much more political role. This made it useful for both politicians and the media to exploit the myth.

2. The gang was perceived to be a major driver of urban violence, and needed to be understood and supressed.

A key issue in light of the growth of gang research has been that researchers within the paradigm only reference other gang researchers, thus reproducing the fundamentally problematic gang research and avoiding other non-gang related studies of youth violence, such as violence in the 24 hour Night-time economy (Katz and Jackson-Jacobs, 2004).

  • 5. Instead of helping practitioners devise sensible policies ‘gang talk’ only leads to suppressive and ineffective policing strategies




Figure 11: Bill Bratton. Source: Al Jazeera (2013)

Wacquant (2004) suggests that the most negative aspects of policymaking in criminal justice have resulted from the transfer of ideas from the US. If this is the case, then in relation the Summer Riots discussed earlier, in Cameron seeking advice from New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, famous for his ‘zero tolerance’ policing methods the UK government is choosing the wrong path in reducing the harms invoked by gangs. Despite a huge investment being made in it in the USA, ‘zero tolerance’ policing has largely failed to curb the problem, only succeeding in increased incarceration (Hallsworth and Young, 2008).  Another example of punitive policy transfer is the use of US style dedicated police gang/firearm units in cities such as Manchester (Xcalibre unit) and new police powers un the 2009 Policing and Crime Act which introduced dispersal-orientated gang injunctions (Smithson et al, 2013). Interestingly these have been dubbed ‘gangbo’s’ in the United Kingdom, which mirrors the anti-social behaviour orders or ‘ASBO’s introduced by Tony Blair in 1998 in part of what Presdee terms New Labour’s ‘criminalization of youth’ (Presdee, 2000:107).



There are other fundamental methodological issues in the study of gangs. Arguably the most fundamental of all is the remaining lack of consensus of what an actual gang is. This is dangerous as gang research as well as policy has advanced without an agreed definition, which can cause misunderstanding in research and disparity in policy implementation (Smithson et al, 2013). For a more detailed discussion of the definitional issues, see above. The ambiguity surrounding the term “gang” and the problems that have been experienced defining it led Marshall et al to suggest that it should be abandoned for the purposes of operational activity and that aspects of gang members ’ behaviour should be focused on instead (e.g., their prolific offending) (Marshall et al, 2005 as cited in Bullock and Tilley, 2008).

As mentioned earlier, Jankowski (1991) reminds us not all violence by gang members is gang-related, this makes constructing a ‘gang-related’ crime a difficult task. Another issue with particular reference to the London Riots experienced by Hallsworth and Brotherton was that in the midst of a riot it is hard to distinguish who is in a gang and who is not, as many of the rioters wore the same ‘ubiquitous street uniform’ (2011:6). One only has to watch the footage of the riots to easily understand this issue, as many of the rioters were indistinguishable due to the mass of them wearing identity concealing hooded tops of varying colour. Hallsworth and Young also criticise the use of typology as a means of categorising and quantifying gangs. They argue quantitative research in general cannot fully capture the lived reality of those who have grown up in underprivileged areas and have become gang members. By referring to the subcultural theorists mentioned earlier, Hallsworth and Young identify any social group as complex multifaceted phenomenon which requires an examination of the political, cultural and economic forces at play in order to fully understand them. Instead, gang research typically follows positivistic commitments which entail ‘what’ rather than ‘why’ conclusions. This commitment, Hallsworth and Young argue, actively misrepresents gang members by brutally reducing the complex lived realities of their situation into a numerical form which is easy to digest and in turn derive suppressive anti-gang policy from.


The Implications of Accepting the Myth – Dangers of over-research, and the ‘othering’ of black minority ethnic communities


In accepting the myth that gangs have proliferated in the UK, society on the whole is faced with many dangers. For one, the attention the gang receives, according to Hallsworth and Young (2008) has led to the blaming of gangs as the source of all urban violence. For policy makers, this notion leads them to implement suppressive anti-gang policy and directs the gaze away from other causes of urban violence. Of course gangs aren’t the sole cause of violence in inner cities. Gang research blindly ignores a wealth of research in criminology into other issues such as the high prevalence of violence in the pubs and clubs and the streets of the UK in what academics term the ‘Night-time economy’ (see Hobbs et al, 2003).

There are other wider moral and ethical issues in gang research such as those highlighted by Becker (1963). As a proponent of gang research and the gang myth, Pitts has made very clear which side he is on:

‘If we are on the side of young men labelled as ‘gangsters’, who will be on the side of the young men they have shot and killed, and their families? Probably not left-liberal criminologists, because to be on their side would mean acknowledging that the idea of the violent youth gang might have some substance.’ (Pitts, 2013:35).

What Pitts fails to realise is that a danger of gang research is that if it is not conducted properly, it can contribute to the stereotyping of the very communities he speaks of (particularly Black minority ethnic communities). Therefore it has been said in relation to gang research, that the issues of ethnicity and ethics go ‘hand-in-hand’ (Aldridge, 2011:43). Also it is interesting to note that Pitts identifies gang members as primary victims of gang violence (as mentioned above), so to be on the side of the ‘young men they have shot and killed’ in many cases would mean being on the side of other gangsters! In areas which have been researched extensively, communities have been reported to now be ‘research weary’ as their community has been stigmatized by research contributing to the notion that the area they may take pride in being from, now has a supposed ‘gang problem’. If this is the case, and policy reacts as it has in the past, inefficient gang suppression policies and a high police presence in these areas may amplify the frustration further.


Figure 12: Source: reviewcentre (2014)

Another issue is that it is not just empirically based academic research that points the fingers at certain areas. Due to accepting the gang myth, many journalistic publications have gained credibility in documenting areas supposedly with gang problems. Journalistic accounts of ‘gang stricken’ areas such as Peter Walsh’s Gang War: The Inside Story of the Manchester Crime Mobs are particularly problematic as they do not have to stick to the ethical boundaries like academic research has to. In the book Walsh names names, names areas, and providse a distorted view of gangs and the communities which they come from. As much as academic research must adhere to ethical boundaries, for a good read journalistic accounts adhere to values of what makes a good story. This is why such publications place a disproportionate emphasis on crime and violence, which we have seen to not be a gang’s reason for being. Aldridge (2011) also claims some journalistic accounts over-emphasize the relevance of ethnicity, or immigration status as factors that ‘explain’ gangs. In fact, many of the interviewees in Aldridge’s research accused Walsh in particular of exploiting the community by making money off of other peoples’ suffering without putting any of the royalties back into the communities through which he exposed and further stigmatized. This is a tricky situation, as on the other side of the coin there are communities out there which researchers such as Aldridge have identified as ‘research craving’ (2011:38). These areas recognize a growing gang problem and believe research can help draw official attention to this area, allowing the communities themselves to deal effectively to what they believe to be their own gang problem.



Case Study:  The Example of Chavs.

222 333


Figure 13: Source: Guardian           Figure 14: Source: BBC (2006)


Significant comparisons can be made between the sensationalized coverage and discussion that gangs have received in the British media with that of which ‘chavs’ also received. Owen Jones in Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class documents how the media and politicians encapsulated Britain’s underprivileged and impoverished working class under the hate-filled label ‘chavs’. Jones highlights many significant issues, one of which surrounds the representativeness of those in power. David Cameron’s CV, according to Jones, looks something like this: Eton, Oxford, Conservative Research Department, Treasury, Home Office, Carlton TV, Conservative MP.  This reflects the incredibly privileged background the Prime Minister has resonated from, without mentioning his privileged family, such as his godfather, conservative MP Tim Rathbone. Questions are raised regarding how well equipped Cameron is at understanding the troubles of those born into underprivileged families of the working class are made, and can also be applied to gangs, as Hallsworth and Young (2008) have done so.

The same notions of victim blaming and stereotyping by politicians and the mass media for chavs has been applied to gangs, and Jones examines how policy makers such as David Cameron, rather than looking at the underprivileged areas from which ‘chavs’ emerged, instead blames issues associated with chavs such as alcohol and drug abuse, and teen pregnancy as a matter of choices people make. Thus in turn Cameron’s responses to such issues are highlighted by Jones to involve ‘taking greater individual responsibility’ which echoes the politics of Margaret Thatcher, whilst ignoring how the destruction of industry by conservative governments could have contributed to unemployment and poverty, two of the common characteristics in both gang members and chavs. Cameron instead made fixing ‘Broken Britain’ an agenda, with ‘Broken’ having an obvious focus on socially excluded and ‘problematic’ individuals rather than ‘Broken’ with reference to damage done by policy.

The Media, as with gangs, also jumped on the hateful stereotyping bandwagon. Notable examples highlighted by Jones include the portrayal of Vicky Pollard in Little Britain by multi-millionaire comedian Matt Lucas. Another more recent example not given by Jones is the new Channel 4 ‘documentary’ ‘Benefits Street’ which could be seen as another cynical demonization of the poor.

One could argue from this that the study of those labelled as ‘gangs’ in explaining urban disorder in the UK would be about as useful as the study of ‘chavs’ in explaining youth delinquency, or teenage pregnancy.






As we have seen, before even discussing the monstrous exaggeration of the ‘gang problem’ in the UK, we are yet to even have a common understanding of what a ‘gang’ actually is. These definitions, as discussed, are largely reflective of the wider political climate so we have seen definitions become narrowly focused on the criminal element of the gang. Evidence presented however suggests that crime is not something gangs specialize in. The interactions between the media and the mind of those in power are hard to deconstruct. However one can see the media has painted a clear picture of who we, as the public, should believe are the ‘gangster’s and in turn, politicians such as our current Prime Minister and even academics, have played to this myth – that gangs ARE a matter of grave concern, a concern of Britain’s out of control youth, and within this Black-minority youth the key culprits. Rather than the government looking at the wider contexts of poverty and unemployment and how this (as the social sciences) have explained are key contributors to inner-city crime and disorder, the label ‘gangs’ can be slapped onto cases such as the London riots in order to avoid any real critical insight by the public.  The same, as we can see can be applied to the recent moral panic concerning the criminals amongst Britain’s lower-classes/’underclass’ or ‘chavs’. One could go further than this mere comparison and suggest ambiguity over what actually constitutes a ‘gang’ and the term being loaded with  inferences that the study of gangs in the UK is about as useful as the study of ‘chavs’ in the UK. The term has been used abused to exploit political agendas, being ‘tough on gangs’ is always a neat selling point for politicians, and  in light of the media following the London Riots, voting for a party with a ‘tough on gang’ policy may seem the logical thing to do. But as we have seen, suppressive gang policy only leads to further stigmatization and disruption in the lives of individuals who come from disadvantaged communities where gang existence is exaggerated. By accepting the gang myth, the vulnerability of groups from areas which do contain gangs is only exacerbated, and stigmatization quickly spreads beyond the gang and unto its surrounding communities.

One can learn a lot here from the now over 80 year old work of Thrasher. There is more to understanding urban disorder than through the assumption that inherently criminal gangs have exploded onto our streets, and that disorder within riots is caused by mindless criminals. Policy makers need to look within their own processes, and examine how these may have been a contributing factor to cramped social housing, social exclusion and the marginalization of those who are already most vulnerable in our society and how this may be a contributing factor to urban disorder, rather than destructively labelling the marginalized groups as ‘gangs’ from the comfort of their parliamentary suites.


Word Count: 5454

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  1. List of Images

Figure 1: Cole, J. (2011) Available at: [Last Accessed: 01/04/14]

Figure 2: Guardian, (2011) ‘How the Newspapers Headlined the London Riots. The Guardian. 09/08/11. Available at: [Last Accessed: 05/04/14]

Figure 3: theblogofmowr (2011) ‘Mods’ Available at: [Last Accessed: 05/04/14]

Figure 4: The Mirror Online (2011) ‘UK Riots: inside the deadly world of gangs’. The Mirror. 22/08/11. Available at: [Last Accessed: 05/04/14]

Figure 5: (2011) David Cameron ‘Hug a Hoodie’ Image Available at: [Last Accessed: 15/01/2014]

Figure 6: Daily Mail (2009) Gang Members Image in: ‘Brain scans on teenage street gangs can trace reasons for their life of crime’. Daily Mail. 14/07/09. Available at: [Last Accessed: 05/04/14]

Figure 7: Guardian (2011) Female Gang Member. In Helm, T (2014) ‘Exposed: the exploitation of girls in UK gangs’. The Guardian. 22/03/14. Available at: [Last Accessed: 05/04/14]

Figure 8: hood-lum (2011) Mixed Race Gang Image. Available at: [Last Accessed: 05/04/14]

Figure 9: Guardian (2011) Rioter Kicking Glass in ‘UK riots: Cameron looks for lessons from LA to tackle homegrown gangs’. The Guardian. 11/08/11. Available at: [Last Accessed: 05/04/14]
Figure 10: Daily Mail (2010) Violent gang attack on man. In: Slack, J. (2010) ‘How Violent crime has risen 44% after 13 years of Labour but ministers insist it is DOWN’ Daily Mail. 10/03/10. Available at: [Last Accessed: 05/04/14]

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Figure 14: BBC (2006) Vicky Pollard Image. In: Dickinson, T. (2006) ‘Chav a nice day’. BBC 02/01/2006 Available at: [Last Accessed: 05/04/14]

Critically apply your knowledge and understanding of youth crime to the characters in the film ‘Ill Manors’, to offer explanations and understanding for their behaviour, circumstances and choices.

John Lo – De Montfort University


…we all belong to the same society, and we all have a stake in making it better. There is no ‘them’ and ‘us’ – there is us. We are all in this together, and we will mend out broken society – together

(Cameron, 2011)

In his speech following the 2011 London riots, the Prime Minister spoke of the ‘moral collapse’ and social problems that have occurred overtime within the country. Amongst the problems of communities, families, schools and welfare, Cameron also specifically referenced young people as an issue (Cameron, 2011). Youth crime became a particular focus of New Labour’s community safety paradigm after Blair similarly described the moral degeneration of communities (McLaughlin, 2002). In relation to young people, both of these statements emphasise that they are broken and are in need to be fixed. Currie (1991) argues that much of youth intervention strategies are designed to repair the deficit youths.

Youth and young people, commonly interchangeable with children, adolescents and teenagers, are used to describe the imprecise time period between infancy and adulthood (Muncie, 2009). In the eyes of the law, young people are considered to be under the age of 18 under the Children Acts 1989 and 2004 (Department for Children, Schools and Families, 2010). Due to the abolishment of doli incapax by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the current age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years old. Thus, criminal offences committed by young people under the age of 18 are defined as youth crime (Muncie, 2009). Young offenders are dealt separately from older offenders by the youth justice system to ensure their welfare as a result of the Children Act 1933 (Morgan and Newburn, 2012). Statistics gathered between 2011 and 2012 reveal that 167,995 arrests made for young people. Despite this, there are numerous approaches and systems to redirect young people from being formally processed through the Youth Justice System (Ministry of Justice, 2014).

This assignment will critically assess Jake and the theories relating to his behaviour and circumstances in Ill Manors. The characteristics of a gang will be looked into and how it is currently defined in relation to youth crime. Psychological and sociological theories, such as social learning theory, labelling theory, self-fulfilling prophecy, moral panics and deviancy amplification, strain theory, subcultural theory, and differential opportunity theory, will be explored to explain Jake’s decision to join Marcel’s gang. Through the identification of certain risk factors, legislation and policies, a range of intervention programmes and strategies are discussed in relation to Jake’s case.


In his speech, Cameron declared war on gangs and gang culture, stating it as a street-level problem that needs to be nationally prioritised (Cameron, 2011). Marcel’s gang displays several characteristics as described by various definitions of the term: a street-level group of young people (Centre for Social Justice, 2009), led by an identifiable leader (Muncie, 2009), wearing distinct clothing (Hallsworth, 2013), and the attainment of wealth through illegitimate means (Pitts, 2007). Gangs have also been defined to be engage in criminal activity as its core operation (Klein and Maxson, 2006, cited by Hallsworth, 2013), to influence through the use of violence and threat of violence (Youth Justice Board, 2007), is organised in a hierarchical structure (Evans, 2008), and to have persisted over time with a set of group norms and values (Muncie, 2009). Hallsworth and Young (2010), distinguishes between peer groups, gangs, and organised crime groups in a hierarchy of risk, with peer groups perceived to be low risk, gangs as medium risk, and organised crime groups as high risk. However, the definition of ‘gang’ has been contested by several researchers. Hallsworth (2011) has argued that gangs are actually fluidly unstructured and volatile, and misrepresented as criminally organised and structured and over-emphasised as dangerous (Bullock and Tilley, 2002, cited in Pitts, 2011). There are some gangs that do not engage in criminality and have been misidentified because of their involvement in adolescent misbehaviour (Evans, 2008). Additionally, young adults are more likely to be involved in gang-related violence than young people (Youth Justice Board, 2007). Whilst youth gangs are a relatively new phenomenon within Britain (Pitts, 2008), youth subcultures have existed and been the focus of research in the past (Hallsworth, 2013). Similar to the ‘teddy boys’, ‘mods’ and rockers, punks and skinheads, it is argued that the public anxieties surrounding youth gangs has constructed them as the contemporary folk devil (Pitts, 2011). The media has also constructed the threat of gangs in relation to the involvement of weaponry in violent crimes between youths (Centre of Social Justice, 2009). However, it is argued that gangs can be conveniently used to label and blame all youth crime and violence (Muncie, 2009). Hallsworth (2011, 2013) cautions against blaming gangs and that much of the focus on gangs has diverted away from the social ecological issues that creates street violence.


In Ill Manors, Jake joins a gang, which can be explained by psychological and sociological perspectives. Psychologically, Jake may have joined a gang because he shared the physical immediate environment with Marcel (Tyler and Sears, 1977, cited in Hogg and Vaughan, 2014; Bronfenbrenner, 1994), he may have wanted a sense of belonging with his peers (Baumeister and Leary, 1995, cited in Hogg and Vaughan, 2014), and he may have joined out of fear of other gangs that threaten his personal safety (Greenbery, Pyszczynski and Solomon, 1986, cited in Hogg and Vaughan, 2014; Pitts, 2011). As cognitive dissonance theory would suggest, Jake reluctantly assaulted his friend as part of initiation to join and benefit from the gang (Festinger, 1957). Once joining the gang, the group norms, which provide a frame of reference, are internalised by Jake and expressed in his actions and behaviour (Hogg and Vaughan, 2014). Although, it is evident that he is trying to enhance his membership position within the group (Ill Manors, 2012). As Hogg and Vaughan (2014) stated, higher roles within a group are highly desired and competed for. However, Jake could be imitating the gang’s behaviour because he sees Marcel as a positive role model (Ill Manor, 2012).

Social learning theory would propose that Jake learnt the gang’s behaviour through the observation and reinforcement of Marcel and the other gang members (Bandura, 1977). As Jake has limited or lack of access to a conventional role model, he would have had access to and adopted a criminal role model instead (Cloward and Ohlin, 1960). Farrington (2005) found that exposure to antisocial role models was a risk factor for future delinquency. Cameron (2011) similarly recognised that the lack of a male role model influenced young people’s immoral and unrestrained behaviour. The lack of an adult role model may actually be a major risk factor indicator for being involved in a gang (Pitts, 2008). Several reports have stated that young people without a positive role model are at risk of being associated with a gang (Aldred et al. 2008; Centre for Social Justice, 2009; HM Government, 2011). In her report, Kinsella (2011) found that young people who lacked suitable role models went in search for one, which made them vulnerable, particularly by gangs. Marshall, Webb and Tilley (2005) noted that gang leaders may become a substitution in the absence of a suitable adult role model, which is evident in Jake’s case (Ill Manors, 2012).


As a response to the identified risk factor, the report conducted by Churches Together in England recommended that churches engage with young people in order to provide them the environment and opportunity to interact with adults, who may become positive role models (Aldred et al. 2008). However, whilst Jake was part of the Christian community, the Church may have been unable to intervene because Jake did not have confidence in their support (Ill Manors, 2012). Despite being a protective factor, young people are increasingly not identifying with faith and religion within a secular society (Parker, 2003). This is evident by the declining attendance to Church in the UK, where it was found that one of the groups of people disinterested in the Church are young people (WhyChurch, 2012). According to Thornborough (2011), church attendance for young people under the age of 20 has declined by 90 per cent.  It has been suggested that weakening of social relations with the church is a consequence of the decline in faith and religion within late modern society (Cowe, Brayford and Deering, 2012). However, the influence of the Church can extend within wider communities through other social settings, such as families and schools (Johnson, 2014). Aldred et al (2008) recommended a multi-agency working partnership between the churches, specialist agencies and communities to reach out to young people at risk.


In accordance with social learning theory, Jake’s behaviour may have also been influenced and reinforced vicariously by other sources, such as the media (Bandura, 1977). Although, young people have expressed concerns that the media has negatively portrayed them as being criminal or deviant (Kinsella, 2011). Much media coverage surrounding gangs has increased exponentially over the past decade, and the term was quickly applied to label groups of working-class young people as gangs (Hallsworth, 2011). As labelling theory suggests, this had an exacerbating effect to groups of young people as they were thought to be already engaged in or were going to be engaged in anti-social behaviour and crime (Hallsworth and Young, 2004). Consequently, the mislabelling of gangs by the media glamourises them, which may have driven Jake to become involved with Marcel’s gang (Youth Justice Board, 2007). This subsequently left Jake open to exploitation and manipulation by Marcel, as it was evident that he was loyal and obedient (Ill Manors, 2012). The media also partly distorts and over-emphases the ethnicity and immigration features of gangs (Aldridge, Medina and Ralphs, 2008). Furthermore, the dominant media portrayal of young people as corrupt, dangerous and violent (Muncie, 2009) coalesced with the misrepresentation of gangs can create a self-fulfilling prophecy for youth people of black minority communities. Hutchinson (1997) agrees that the overrepresentation of black minority males as gang members leaves young black minority children in disarray about their future prospects in life.


Increasing media attention has also heightened public anxieties about gangs and youth groups, as explained by deviancy amplification. As violent crimes among groups of young people increased, gangs were quickly identified as a threat by the media (Hallsworth, 2011). In response to the public and media concerns, the Government planned to address violent crime by targeting gangs (see HM Government, 2009). Various criminal justice agencies and multi-agency partnerships, such as the Police, the Youth Justice Board (YJB), and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships have similarly antagonised gangs and drawn upon expert research to develop gang suppression solutions (Hallsworth, 2011). As a result of this increased anxiety and attention, Pitts (2008) has described gangs as the dominating the discourse of youth crime within the country. On the other hand, Hallsworth and Young (2008) are sceptical of the connection made by the media between street violence involving weapons and gangs. Evans (2008) suggests that not all gangs are criminal; therefore there are some gangs that cannot be attributed to every violent crime amongst young people or uses weapons. Additionally, it has been noted that while the reporting of gang-related crimes has increased, youth crime has decreased (Centre of Social Justice, 2009). It could be suggested that the over exaggeration of gangs within the media may be due to the financial attraction of publishing such stories (Newburn, 2013). However, there is a danger in the negative media portrayals of gangs, as hard to reach young people may be further marginalised due to the punitive response of society (Wood, 2010).


As a response to the moral panics around young people and gangs, legislative intervention in the form of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 recognises the association with delinquent peers as a risk factor for future youth offending (Youth Justice Board, 2005) and gang involvement (Pitts, 2008). Under section 30, a dispersal order can be applied by police officers if a group of two or more people are causing anti-social behaviour in public. Provisions are also made for police officers to return young people under the age of 16 back to their place of residence. If a dispersal order had been applied, Jake may have been prevented from encountering Marcel’s gang in the park or he would have been intervened and sent home once joining the gang (Ill Manors, 2012). However, it can be argued that dispersal orders can be discriminatory towards most youth groups due to the overrepresentation and mislabelling of them as gangs in the media (Hallsworth, 2011). Additionally, it is further argued that the orders have been applied more to presence of groups rather than activities and behaviours caused by groups (Millie, 2009).


The introduction of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, was created to prevent behaviour that alarms, distresses or harasses members of the community. These orders can be applied to people over the age of 10 that require them to meet certain conditions for a minimum of two years. They were further amended by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which specifies diverse behaviours categorised as anti-social and extended powers to enforce orders and other interventions. While ASBOs were intended for nuisance neighbours, it was quickly targeted at young people, particularly in estates with high crime rates (Muncie, 2009). The Government recognised the use of ASBOs to deal with crimes and disorder caused by young people and that it should not be used as a last resort (Millie, 2009). Statistics published by Home Office (2013) reveal that since the introduction of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, the number of ASBOs issued to young people aged from 10 to 17 increased significantly. Due to the common use of ASBOs in relation to youth crime and disorder, the country has been termed “ABSO Nation” (see Squires, 2008). Evaluation on the impact of ASBOs found that while local authorities and the Police considered it an appropriate response, Youth Offending Teams believed it to be ineffective on young people’s behaviour (Youth Justice Board, 2006, cited in Muncie, 2009). Additionally, the impact on young people receiving ABSOs were mixed, where some did not understand the conditions of their orders, while others were proud of their ABSOs (ibid). Furthermore, it has been criticised for widening the net to draw young people into the criminal justice process through the criminalisation of deviant behaviours and the breaching of orders resulting in criminal prosecution (Muncie, 2009).

Whilst ASBOs do not directly address gang-related violence, the Policing and Crime Act 2009 introduced gang injunctions, which aim to prevent and divert people away from gangs. Similar to ASBOs, these injunctions can impose prohibitions in particular places at certain times, and requirements to undertake positive, rehabilitative activities (Home Office, 2014). Amendments made by the Crime and Security Act 2010 extended powers to impose the injunctions to young people aged 14. Breaches by young people under the age of 18 can result in civil offences, such as supervision and detention orders (Home Office, 2011). However, Pople (2010) expresses concerns that the injunctions would target groups of young people that are not necessarily gangs or involved in gang-related activities.


From a sociological perspective, strain theory would suggest that Jake may have limited or lack of access to achieving cultural goals. Thus social strain may have led Jake to considered deviant means of attainment (Merton, 1957, cited in Muncie, 2009). However, Cohen’s (1955, cited in Newburn, 2013) subcultural theory of delinquency may propose that Jake could not be doing well or has failed in the educational system and could be experiencing status frustration. Thus, he turned to a gang because of the alternative norms and values offers an achievable means of obtaining status (ibid). Thrasher (1927, cited in Muncie, 2009) similarly suggested that within socially disorganised communities, gangs offer another sense of belonging and source of support that society has failed to provide. Gangs may also represent alternative economic resources due to the negligible state supports of the declining welfare state (White and Cunneen, 2006). As similarly suggested by Currie (1991), the delinquency offers young people more opportunities to develop themselves as oppose to the decreasing prospects of the labour market. Furthermore, Cloward and Ohlin (1960)’s differential opportunity theory suggests that social structures systemically excluded young people from becoming legitimately successful. Thus, Jake may associate with youth subcultures influenced by criminal networks as a means of becoming successful through illegitimate opportunities (ibid).


Issues at school, such as low achievement, exclusion from school, truancy, and educational disaffection, are considered as risk factors for future offending (Farrington, 2007). Pitts (2008) suggests that these factors also put young people at risk of being involved with gangs. Poor academic qualifications can limit young people’s employment opportunities, so Jake may have recognised this and joined a gang, which provides alternative and attractive activities, such as drug-dealing (Centre for Social Justice, 2009). Social exclusion in the form of truancy or exclusion from school may also have driven Jake to seek out a gang (White, 2011). This leaves them vulnerable to gangs as they spend a significant amount of time on the streets without adult supervision (Centre of Social Justice, 2009). Although, problems at school may make some young people feel like they do not fit in at school, whereas gangs may provide that desired sense of belonging for them (Aldred et al. 2008). Thus, young people who are self or systematically excluded are at a further disadvantage due to the lack of services that assist them (Centre of Social Justice, 2009).


The Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System report (2007) recognises that school exclusion and poor educational achievement can disadvantage young black people and puts them at risk of becoming a victim and an offender. As a recommendation, the report suggested exploring alternative approaches to school exclusion and that proper access to educational facilities are made available for those who have been excluded. Specifically, it proposed improving relations between the black community and schools and introducing mentors (ibid). Marshall et al. (2005) noted that mentoring is a protective factor against gang involvement. Mentors can help young people at risk by engaging with them and intervening at an earlier point before victimisation and offending (REACH, 2007). They can also become an alternative and positive role model, which would have been appropriate for Jake (Ill Manors, 2012). Although mentoring may pose a financial issue for schools, it is suggested that the voluntary sector could be drawn upon to deliver appropriately trained mentors (Centre of Social Justice, 2009). For example, churches have been recommended to become involved with mentoring and supporting young people in schools (Aldred et al. 2008).


Recognising the success of a state intervention programme, the Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System report (2007) recommended initiating safer schools partnership (SSP). Following from the Every Child Matters report (2003), SSPs places police officers in schools to address behavioural problems in schools and ensure the safety of children by identifying young people at risk of anti-social behaviour, offending and school exclusion (Youth Justice Board, 2005). In particular, young people at risk of being involved with gang culture are also identified by SSPs (Association of Chief Police Officers, 2009). Whilst it has been argued that social control by the youth justice system has expanded into schools, evaluations have found that absence rates have dropped in schools on the programme (Stephenson, 2008). Additionally, the strong presence of police officers has helped to educate young people about gangs and weapons (Broadhurst, Duffin and Taylor, 2008) and improve the relationship between young people and the police (Centre of Social Justice, 2009). In 2009, it is suggested that over 5000 schools have set up the SSP programme (Association of Chief Police Officers, 2009). However, it is unclear whether the SSP extended to and was operating in his school, but the lack of programme may have contributed to failing Jake.

Truancy and poor school attendance put young people in a vulnerable position for gangs to exploit them (Centre of Social Justice, 2009). Issues behind young people’s poor school attendance may be blamed on poor parenting of the family (Youth Justice Board, 2005). The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 introduced parenting orders, which require parents to attend guidance sessions for up to three months and to obey requirements that prevent their child from future offending. This was amended by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which extended the orders to residential interventions and fixed penalties. Parenting contracts were also introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 to prevent young people from truancy and school exclusions. Parents undertaking parenting contracts agree to improve the child’s behaviour and ensure the regular attendance to school. Millie (2009) argues that while parenting contracts and orders may be supportive, it is also punitive in that it blames the parent’s responsibility of the child. Additionally, the response neglects the wider social issues and factors related to the child’s poor attendance (Burney, 2008).


Young people bored at school may turn to the streets to seek their own entertainment and other leisure activities (Hallsworth and Young, 2004). As cultural criminology would suggest, anti-social behaviour and deviance acts committed by youths may be exciting and exhilarating. Katz (1988, cited in Muncie, 2009) proposes deviancy is a means of escaping the mundane routine of regular life, and crime is attractive because it relieves everyday boredom. Bannister and Fraser (2008) found that gangs may provide an alternative leisure activity when there is a lack of legitimate facilities within areas. The street culture has become increasing attractive as space has been commoditised and excluded those who do not have the resources to access it (White and Cunneen, 2006). Additionally, overrepresentation of gangs by the mass media may help to glamourise the fantasy of the culture and seduce young people (Centre of Social Justice, 2009). Jake may have joined Marcel’s gang because there may not have been anything to do during the summer holidays (Ill Manors, 2012). However, Jake may benefit from social inclusion programmes, such as the Positive Activities for Young People (PAYP) and Positive Futures.

PAYP is aimed at young people aged 8 to 19, who are considered at risk of becoming a victim, offending and social exclusion. It facilitates access to different activities during school term times and the school holidays in order to provide short-term and long-term solutions to anti-social behaviour and crime (Kelly, 2008). The Every Child Matters report (2003) suggested that PAYP, among other initiatives, would help young people to access activities in safe environments. However, access to some activities in inner city locations due to the dangers of crossing through gang territories to attend the venues where the activities were hosted (Department for Education and Skills, 2006). The targeting and recruiting process of young people identified as at risk are profiled and shared among multi-agency partnerships (National Youth Agency, 2009). The targeting approach, however, has been criticised to stigmatise young people as ‘troublemakers’ and that young people enrolled on the programme is seen to be rewarding anti-social behaviours. Additionally, young people who wish to enrol on the PAYP may be denied because they do not meet the eligibility criteria (Department for Education and Skills, 2006). The Government recognises the successes of PAYP and proposes it as aiding the reforming targeted support outlined in the green paper, Youth Matters (2005).


As a national social inclusion programme based on sports and physical activities, Positive Futures targets to help young people aged 10 to 19 from disadvantaged communities who are at risk offending and misusing substances (Crabbe, 2007). It aims to provide a supportive environment for young people to safely access opportunities that reintegrate them back into education, employment and volunteering (ibid). In 2011, the programme operates in 91 areas across the country, working with over 50,000 young people (HM Government, 2011). Positive Futures works in partnership with Drug and Alcohol Action Teams, Youth Offending Teams, Youth Services, Social Services, and sports clubs (Crime Concern, 2006). Young people identified as at risk may be referred by local agencies or they may be self-referred (Kelly, 2013). The Be Part of Something report states that Positive Futures is a strategy intended to build positive relationships with young people through sports and physical activities (Crime Concern, 2006). Kelly (2013) found that Positive Futures workers become an important point of contact for young people who can be referred to other services and a form of support, acting as role models and mentors. Thus, the programme may help to provide and enhance protective factors against crime for young people (Crabbe, 2007). In 2013, Positive Futures ended nationally and was passed over to local authorities to continue working with vulnerable young people (Catch22, 2013).


The UK is facing an increase in gang culture, although the social construction of gangs has been contested as several definitions exist. A variety of features exist that characterise gangs, and some of these are displayed by Marcel’s gang. However, groups of young people are increasingly becoming mislabelled as gangs and that they are dangerous due to rising public concerns. It is argued that youth subcultures are have existed in different forms in the past and that youth gangs are the new threat to society. Caution must be taken when focusing on youth groups as gangs, which may overlook the wider issues of the social context that constructed gangs.

Jake’s choice to join Marcel’s gang can be explained by several psychological and sociological theories. Specifically, it was identified that Jake lacked a positive role model, exposed to the glorification of gang culture by the mass media, poor academic achievement and school attendance, and lack of accessible activities places Jake at risk of becoming involved with a gang. Intervention programmes and strategies, such as reengagement with the Church, mentoring schemes, Safer School Partnerships, Positive Activities for Young People and Positive Futures, are in place to prevent and divert young people from gang involvement.  These interventions are managed by local authorities, such as the Police, schools, Youth Offending Teams, churches and sports clubs, and are considered holistic as they impact positively upon the lives of vulnerable young people. However, Jake may not have benefitted from these interventions because he may not have been identified as at risk or he was a low risk priority.

Lastly, state intervention in the form of legislation may be considered a punitive approach to gangs. Anti-social behaviour orders, dispersal orders, and parenting contracts and orders may be considered effective, but they are often used discriminatory at particular groups of youth people. Even though these interventions are aimed to prevent young people from gang involvement, they have been argued to criminalise and punish the failures of those who receive these orders. Although, the relatively new gang injunctions may have positive potentials to prevent and deter young people from gangs. Thus, while New Labour’s justice approach to the causes of crime is evident in relation to gangs and youth crime, the Coalition’s approach can be seen to be doing justice by addressing the welfare of young people. Nevertheless, the current interventions in place continue to fail some disadvantaged young people vulnerable to gang involvement, as evident by Jake’s actions and his death in Ill Manors.


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Community safety is described as an ‘incomplete project’ (Squires, 2006). Critically discuss the key aims of community safety with reference to diversity issues.

By John Lo- De Montfort University

The Morgan Report (1991, cited in Newburn, 2007) addressed that the roles of the communities and local authorities were important in the responsibilities of crime. This was followed by a number of recommendations that introduced the approach of multi-agency partnership working. Community has been broadly defined as a network of individuals that share common features based upon a variety of factors, such as residential areas, ethnic origins, or social practices (O’Brien and Yar, 2008). The Morgan Report was an essential shift in the criminological perspective from crime prevention to community safety. Community safety promises the prevention of crime and social disorder, and the improvement and protection of life within society, which is emphasised by the participation and partnership of communities with the criminal justice and state agencies (Newburn, 2007; O’Brien and Yar, 2008).

However, Squires (2006) raises a number of issues concerning the community safety paradigm. It is argued that while community safety may refer to the diverse involvement and commitment of local communities, there are certain sections of society that have been failed by or who have been out of reach of the local authorities. Therefore, Squires (2006) noted that community safety is incomplete because community safety has not encompassed every group of the community, as it has suggested. As a result, communities are therefore at risk of crime and disorder. Risk refers to the likelihood of harm, which is considered in the decision-making of criminal activity and of the criminal justice system (O’Malley, 2006).

This assignment will look at the aims of community safety and the problems this poses for multi-agency partnership engagement with the hidden groups within society. The hidden communities that will be explored in this assignment are women of domestic violence, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, and young people, especially those who are at risk of offending and reoffending.

The notion of community safety originates from the situational crime prevention, which considered theoretical perspectives in order to prevent crime and make the local areas safer to live in (Faulkner, 2001). The theory of Broken Windows (Wilson and Kelling, 1982) identified that visibly physical signs of disorder in local areas can attract further disorder, which potentially results in criminal activity and behaviour. The physical signs of the local disorder signify the negligence of that particular area, and thus criminal behaviour is likely to be undetected. Furthermore, it is suggested that the social cohesion is weak within the local area, and that an increased risk of criminality is a consequence of the decrease in collective engagement and undermining of informal social controls (Newburn, 2007). Other opportunity theories, such as rational choice and routine activity, are utilised to manipulate the physical environment and reduce the opportunities that invite criminal behaviour (Newburn, 2007). However, However,the conception of community safety is argued to be gender neutral, as gender is not considered within the rational choice theory (Wilcox, 2006).

Walklate (2001) argues that the concept of community safety is focused on public and visible issues within the community and crimes that occur on the streets. Therefore, crimes such as domestic violence are unnoticeable, which proves difficulties for the community safety paradigm to deal with the private social issues behind it (Wilcox, 2006). Domestic violence is the physical, emotional or sexual abuse against females caused by their male partners within a domestic setting (Newburn, 2007). It is estimated that there were 392,000 incidents of domestic violence, according to the British Crime Survey2010/2011. Although, only 39 per cent of all reported violent crimes were incidences of domestic violence (Home Office, 2011). Victims of domestic violence are often afraid or embarrassed and therefore do not report the offence. This proves problematic as failure to report the offence can conceal the accurate quality and quantity of the crime (Shaftoe, 2004). However, since 1981, there has been a steady increase of reported incidents of domestic violence, which indicates that there is an increase of public focus on hidden crimes (Walklate, 2005). Domestic violence victims are often at risk of repeated victimisation from their partner over long periods of time (Croall, 1998). The British Crime Survey identifies that victims of domestic violence are more likely be repeated victims than that of victims of other crimes. Three-quarters of all domestic violence incidents resulted in repeated victimisation (Home Office, 2011). Terminating and leaving the relationship is difficult for the woman, as long-term abuse and violence hampers their ability to improve the situation for themselves (Hudson, 2001).

The lack of gender identity recognised within the community safety paradigm has resulted in women creating alternative and informal communities. This resulted in the creation of the Women’s Aid refuge, which is a voluntary shelter for women (Wilcox, 2006). The Women’s Aid Federation of England was established to campaign against domestic violence and provides support through a network of services for women and children. These services include temporary accommodation, resettlement, support groups, and counselling services (Barron, 2011). In 2009/2010, it is estimated that 17,615 women and 17,785 children received support of refuge accommodation (Barron, 2011). It is evident that the issues of domestic violence are being recognised by the community safety paradigm, as Wright and Hill (2004) notes that feminists are raising awareness of the female victims of the crime.

Although women are more likely to be at risk of domestic violence, men can also experience domestic violence by women. It was found that 1,925 male victims of domestic violence were given support by 62 organisations (Barron, 2011). Similar to the services that supported female victims of domestic violence, the ManKind charity assists with male victims of domestic violence (Wilcox, 2006). Additionally, gay, lesbian and bisexual people can also encounter domestic violence in same-sex relationships, which is similar to domestic violence in heterosexual relationships (Richards et al. 2003). Donovan et al. (2006) similarly found that domestic violence was not different between gay and lesbian relationships, although men were at greater risk of sexual abuse. Henderson (2003) supported this risk factor, as 22 per cent of gay or bisexual men were sexually abused, as opposed to 18.3 per cent of lesbian or bisexual women. Although, it was also found that 86.9 per cent of lesbian and bisexual women did not report the abuse to the police, in comparison to the 81.2 per cent of gay and bisexual men who did not report to the police (Henderson, 2003). Gay and lesbian victims of domestic violence can also seek support through Broken Rainbow, which offers advice, support and referral of services (Stonewall, 2009).

Wilcox (2006) concludes the community safety paradigm is limited by the gender-neutrality, where female victims and domestic violence may be marginalised and not given adequate support to deal with their domestic abusers. Although, initiative charities such as the Women‘s Aid Federation of England provide support and a referral of services for female victims of domestic violence (Barron, 2011). Additionally, similar charities are available for heterosexual, gay, bisexual men and lesbian and bisexual women that are in a domestic violent relationship. Therefore, the gradual visibility of domestic violence and the victims is revealing that violence at home is similarly serious to the violence out in the streets (Wilcox, 2006).

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 outlined a duty for local organisations and the police services to work in partnership to reduce crime and disorder within the local areas (Faulkner, 2001). However, there were problematic issues between the police and certain organisations of the community, such as the LGBT communities. McGhee (2006) has identified that the LGBT community is reluctant to trust the police, which has resulted in the cautious reporting of homophobic hate crimes and incidents by LGBT members. This lack of confidence stems from the perception that the police culture is institutionalised homophobia (Rowe, 2008).

There were fears that if the LGBT communities engaged with the police forces, then they were at risk of further victimisation (Herek, 1989). Williams and Robinson (2004) found that 25 per cent of the victims of the LGBT community in Wales had experienced harassment by the police. Similarly, the LGBT community believe that the police would be unhelpful in the response of reporting a homophobic crime or incident (McGhee, 2006). From a survey of 1721 LGBT members, it was revealed that a third of homophobic crime victims expressed this belief. Further findings found that a quarter of reported homophobic incidents were not recorded as a hate crime or incident by the police, and of all homophobic crimes that were reported, only one per cent resulted in a conviction (Stonewall, 2008). Therefore, this has caused the members of the LGBT community to not report homophobic crimes or incidents in the belief that the severity of it would be disregarded by the police (McGhee, 2006). Transgender victims similarly lack confidence within the police service, because they felt that they would not be treated as their preferred or reassigned gender (Turner et al. 2009). While it is evident that the LGBT community feel that the police are unhelpful, they find that there is insufficient resources and support available to them (McGhee, 2006). Two thirds of hate crime victims were not referred to any support services after reporting to the police, and one in ten of LGBT members were unsure of where to find support after being a victim of a homophobic incident (Stonewall, 2008).

It is important to reach and connect to the LGBT community, as the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO, 2000, cited in McGhee, 2006) suggested that they are at risk of hate crimes that are motivated by their sexuality and gender identity. Thus, they are at a higher risk of abuse and harassment than the heterosexual community (Shaftoe, 2004). Hate crimes is not only harmful to the victim and their family and friends, but it also affects the entire community, as other members are at risk of being victimised (ACPO, 2000, cited in McGhee, 2006). It can also result in an increased risk of repeat victimisation, if it is not dealt with at an early stage (HM Government, 2012). Additionally, while homophobic victimisation can occur by strangers, LGBT members can also face homophobic victimisation from residents within the local community (Herek et al. 2002). One in six victims of homophobic hate crime stated that it was committed by people in their local area (Stonewall, 2008). While homophobic hate crime is motivated at members of the LGBT community, the recognition and reporting of these incidents is exclusive to anyone that is not LGBT (McGhee, 2006). Furthermore, it was found that the LGBT community are fearful and they feel vulnerable (Williams and Robinson, 2004). One in ten LGBT members fear becoming a victim of a crime, which has caused a third of LGBT members modify their behaviour and appearance in order to prevent being identified by their sexuality (Stonewall, 2008).

Due to these problematic issues, McGhee (2006) recognises that in order to extend the community safety paradigm to the LGBT members, then trust and effective communication must be established with the LGBT community. The establishment of LGBT liaison officers and independent, confidential third party reporting systems has been recommended in hopes to connect with the LGBT community (Stonewall, 2007). However, findings from lack of reporting suggest that awareness of liaison officers and anonymous reporting systems is still unknown among LGBT members. Seven per cent of victims were uncertain of who to report a homophobic incident to, and one in twenty victims were concerned about publicly disclosing their sexuality during a reporting or in court (Stonewall, 2008). Connections with LGBT organisations help to reach out to, encourage effective communication, and develop community strategies with the LGBT community (The Local Government Association, 2007). Although, McGhee (2006) criticises the multi-agency partnership approach by questioning the representation of these organisations, and argues whether the representatives reflect the interests of the LGBT communities.

McGhee (2006) notes that although communication and trust are developing between the police and the LGBT community, priorities of reducing homophobic incidents and crimes are low. Blackbourn (2006) argues that the increasing number of homophobic hate crimes being reported suggests that the public are more inclined to report these incidents than in the past. On the other hand, transphobic hate crimes and incidents are frequently hidden within homophobic hate crimes and incidents, and therefore it is believed that transphobic crimes and incidents are largely under-reported (Turner et al. 2009). Out of 48,127 reported hate crimes in 2010, it was found that only 357 of these were motivated toward transgender victims (HM Government, 2012). However, the institutional homophobia within the police culture is being challenged, which is increasing the confidence among LGBT members (Walklate, 2000). Although, poor management responses can endorse homophobic prejudices among other forces within the police services (Blackbourn, 2006). The inconsistency of anti-discriminatory and LGBT-friendly practices within the police forces has resulted in differential levels of confidence and victim satisfaction within the police across the country (Stonewall, 2009).

As part of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, the Youth Justice Board was established to oversee the youth justice system, and prevent the offending of young people (Faulkner, 2001). Through a multi-agency approach, local Youth Offending teams were also launched that included the services of social workers, probation, health, education, and police to intervene and prevent youth offending (Newburn, 2007). It is important that while young people are dealt with as offenders, it is similarly vital that young people are seen as victims as well (Goldsmith, 2006). However, as suggested by Wilkins (1964, cited in Newburn, 2007), deviancy of youth offenders has been amplified and exaggerated, which has distorted the social interpretation of young people. The public media has negatively portrayed young people, and it is argued that the government’s response can be shaped to result in the ostracism of young people from the community (McKenzie, 2005). This can prove problematic for the community safety paradigm, as Goldsmith (2006) argues that intervention occurs when young people enter the criminal justice system rather than at vulnerable points in their lives.

Goldsmith (2006) suggests that incarcerated young people were disadvantaged before their imprisonment, and that they are exposed to numerous criminogenic needs that contribute toward a risk of future offending. These criminogenic needs that lead to youth offending are recognised as: poor family circumstances, inadequate or incomplete education, living within disadvantaged communities, and individual differences, such as hyperactivity, aggressive attitudes, low intelligence, cognitive impairment, and social connections with peers involved in crime and disorder (Faulkner, 2001). Youth offending is also suggested to be a result of late modernity, as it is believed that the collapse of traditional law and order has influenced the younger generation (Goldson, 2004). It is noted that an interaction of multiple risk factors at an early age can result in serious youth offending (Moore et al. 2006). Therefore, it is suggested that in order to prevent youth offending, these disadvantages must be addressed through an approach of multi-agency partnership working (Youth Justice Board, 2005). Goldsmith (2006), however, argues that certain youth offenders are still facing problems before, during, and after their custodial sentences.

According to the Prison Reform Trust (2012), there were 1,804 children of under-18 years old in custody, and a total of 7,816 young people, aged 18 – 20, in prison within England and Wales. Goldsmith (2006) identified that the psychosocial well-being and future aspirations of youth offenders, who had existing problems before, were negatively affected by their time in prisons. It was found that young offenders did not have formal support when they had experienced vulnerable life events, they wanted to complete their education and obtain qualifications during their incarceration, and there were several who were psychological distressed, which proposes an increased risk of self-harming and suicide among some youth offenders (Goldsmith, 2006). Children similarly reported that they had received inadequate support because of the transfer of responsibilities between agencies (Hart, 2006). Although local authorities have statutory duties to support young offenders, there are some who are not monitored due to the lack of formal monitoring system within these establishments (Goldsmith, 2006). Newburn (2007) also expressed concerns that young offenders were denied when they had requested for help or support during their custodial sentences.

Young offenders commonly perceived that the inadequate or incomplete education would negatively affect their success of employment after their custodial sentences (Goldsmith, 2006). It is similarly suggested that young ex-offenders encounter several difficulties after their incarceration, such as the reintegration into education and training, the poor availability of information for local vocational courses, and the resettlement of accommodation (Intelligence, 2010). These difficulties can impact upon reoffending among young ex-offenders, as it was found that sixty-eight per cent of under 18 year olds reoffending within one year of their release in 2004, and seventy-five per cent of 18-20 year olds had reoffended within two years of their release (Schuller, 2009). Therefore, it is important that young offenders receive and complete basic qualifications in order to rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into the community (Goldsmith, 2006).

In 2002, the Youth Justice Board received funding to implement the Keeping Young People Engaged partnership initiative, which was aimed to provide education, training and employment to young offenders (Cooper et al. 2007). The initiative employed and assigned Learning Mentors, who help and ensure that young offenders receive advice and opportunities to education, training and employment. The Learning Mentors can also assist in addressing the criminogenic needs by referring young offenders to other agencies (Youth Justice Board, 2005). Research conducted by Cooper et al. (2007) into the effectiveness of the initiative found that the most effective approach to engaging young offenders and dealing with their needs was the one-to-one support from mentors. Although the researchers identified that it was quantifiably difficult to measure the response of young people to the effectiveness of the assistance that they had received (Cooper et al. 2007). The partnership working of the initiative has demonstrated that the responsibilities, roles and expectations require clear communication between agencies (Goldsmith, 2006).

While much attention is focused on young people, it is apparent that intervention and support are available only when they enter the criminal justice system as offenders (Goldsmith, 2006). Hayden (2005) argues that schools can be assist in the prevention of crime committed by young people, as it provides opportunities for young people to be included within the community and help nurture pro-social behaviours. However, it is suggested that young people who are likely to offend have a lack of commitment and truant from school and truant (Youth Justice Board, 2005). Cooper et al. (2007) similarly notes that permanent exclusion from schools can also have an effect on young offending. Goldsmith (2006) concludes that while the community safety paradigm does assist in the intervention and approaches to resettlement of young offenders, it is not entirely inclusive to the wider younger generation as it has suggested.


The community safety paradigm was aimed to engage communities through the working of multi-agency partnership to prevent and reduce crime within local areas. However, Squires (2006) argues that some sections of the community are difficult to include within community safety, and therefore suggests that certain groups of people are disadvantaged or do not available the benefits of community safety. It was identified that female victims of domestic violence, the LGBT community and young people of criminogenic needs, especially those who are permanently excluded from schools, remain hidden from the reaches of community safety.

Wilcox (2006) noted that community safety is gender neutral and priorities are focused upon public issues of crime and disorder. Private issues and crimes, such as domestic violence, have been ignored until the raised awareness and the establishment of charities that helped and supported women who had experienced domestic violence. Other charities soon developed to assist other people who had encountered similar abuse within personal relationships.

McGhee (2006) discussed the problematic connection between the police and the LGBT community. The LGBT community is at several risks of hate crime victimisation and repeated victimisation, and it is important to build trust and communication between the LGBT community and the police in order to tackle hate crime. Despite the establishment of LGBT liaison officers and independent, confidential third party reporting systems, institutional homophobia continues to exist within several police forces, and it is believed that transphobic hate crime is still under-reported.

Goldsmith (2006) found that intervention of young people occurs when they enter the criminal justice system. Several criminogenic needs of young people were identified, and it was found that imprisonment negatively impacted upon their psychosocial well-being and future employment aspirations. The Keeping Young People Engaged found that young people responded well to one-to-one mentor support. Schools can play a role in the influence of young people; however, it is difficult to intervene with young people who have fallen out of the education system.

In conclusion, community safety has been described as an ‘incomplete project’ because it approaches crime and disorder through a multi-agency partnership engagement with the community. However, it is evident some groups of the community are hard to reach, and may be excluded from the aid and support of community safety. There are some groups that are slowly emerging and integrating into the community safety paradigm, although much work is required to include the rest of the marginalised communities.


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Children missing from care:

Why children and young people run away and go missing from residential care

By Philippa Joanne Bremner


I hereby declare that this research is my own original work and contains nothing done in collaboration except where explicit acknowledgement is given.



The focus of this research project is to investigate the diverse reasons why children and young people in care run away or go missing. In addition why professionals associated with their case feel that this happens and what, if anything, can be done about it. Four children’s residential homes were visited; all occupants and staff were invited to participate in the research project. The young people reflected on their real life experiences, highlighting the often harrowing consequences of going missing. Participants suggested preventative strategies for their peer group and multi agencies, which the researcher collaborated in order to make key recommendations for future professional practices and policies.


Foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Annette Crisp and Susan Atherton of De Montfort University for their continued support and mentoring. Thanks also to my family for their endless love, patience and support.

Finally, a special thanks to the young people and staff for their participation as without them, this research would not have been possible.






List of acronyms


Chapter 1 – Introduction                                                                                   

  • Overview of the study


Chapter 2 – Literature review                                                                            

2.1 Methodology used for literature review

2.2 Literature review


Chapter 3 – Methodology                                                                                       

3.1 Methodology

3.2 Sample groups

3.3 Limitations

3.4 Ethical considerations

3.5 Dissemination of research


Chapter 4 – Results                                                             

  • Key findings from looked after children 10
  • Key findings from care staff 18


Chapter 5 – Discussion                                                                                                                    


Chapter 6 – Conclusion and recommendations

6.1 Conclusion

6.2 Suggestions for future research

6.3 Recommendations





CSE                            Child Sexual Exploitation

LAC                            Looked After Child

DFE                            Department for Education

DCSF                         Department for Children Schools and Families

MPB                           Missing Persons Bureau

DMU                           De Montfort University

APPG                         All Party Parliamentary Group

NSPCC                       National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

CEOP                         Child Exploitation and Online Protection

TCS                            The Children’s Society



The focus and aim of this research is to investigate the reasons why children and young people in residential care run away or go missing, why professionals associated with their case feel this happens and what, if anything, can be done about it (Bremner 2012).

This research endeavors to create awareness on the severity of the problem, explore relevant literature whilst highlighting any gaps in existing knowledge. In addition it will describe methods of investigation used and present the findings in a clear concise manner. Finally it will analyse and discuss the results at length before reaching a conclusion and suggesting recommendations for future practice, policy and further research.

The Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) advised care is provided to children and young people under 18 years old by local authority under the Children’s Act 1989 (DCSF 2010) and introduced the term looked after children (LAC) as a less stigmatising term of “in care” although the former title is still utilised (Wade et al. 1998). Throughout this study LAC will be used to describe both looked after children and young people. In recent years and throughout the study, there have been important changes and developments in the way missing persons are reported and investigated. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) definition of Missing has been revised and includes an extra category of absent. However, not everybody agrees with these amendments and the changes will undoubtedly affect statistics.

The new ACPO (2013) definitions are below:

Missing – “Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established and circumstances are out of character or the context suggests the person may be subject of crime or risk of harm to themselves or another.”

 Absent – “A person not at a place where they are expected or required to be.”

 There is also the category of unauthorised absence which refers to LAC absent from care for a short period of time and their absence does not raise concern for anyone’s immediate safety. However, should circumstances change or if the LAC has not returned or been located within six hours they are re-categorised as missing and police informed (Missing Children Protocol 2012).

A 2012 report by the UK Missing Persons Bureau (MPB) revealed between 2011 and 2012 there were 313,000 missing persons recorded by Police, almost 900 reports daily which is nearly one every 2 minutes. The report also found that 4,165 were reported to Nottinghamshire Police and children and young people accounted for 64%.

The exact cost of a missing person investigation is subject to debate. £1,000 is often quoted (Parliamentary Panel 2007) yet recent research (Greene and Pakes 2013) shows £2,415.80 is more realistic. These figures indicate that between 2011 and 2012 missing person enquiries cost Nottinghamshire Police between £4,165,000 and £10,061,807. However, it is not just the police that are affected financially. A 2011 report by The Children’s Society (TCS) discovered children and young people missing from home and care cost society as a whole up to £82 million every year which equates to a quarter of a million pounds every day although the overall burden could be significantly greater. It is acknowledged a cost is involved with missing persons though recent figures are higher than previously reported and could mean investigations are more time consuming and costly for police than certain crimes such as assault, criminal damage and theft (Brand and Price 2000; Sinclair and Taylor 2008).

Due to recommendations made in the Munro report (2011) the children social care system is being revamped to include a greater emphasis on intervention and preventative techniques. Research suggests early intervention to help and support LAC that run away could result in net savings to public services ranging from £200 for less severe cases to £300,000 or more (TCS 2011). This is a huge amount and with Government cuts on public services meaning Nottinghamshire Police has to save £43.6 million between 2011 and 2015 (HMIC 2013), this is a statistic that cannot and should not be ignored and must be investigated further.

Figures are clearly a consideration but the greatest concern is the welfare of the child. In 2012 the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) found when LAC run away they are at significant risk of harm and a scandal has been ongoing throughout England involving missing LAC suffering Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) which had been going unnoticed until recent high profile cases highlighted the issue.

ACPO defines CSE as; under 18’s involved in exploitative situations, contexts and relationships consisting of receiving incentives such as; food, drugs, alcohol and more – often a result of CSE towards the child.  Furthermore CSE can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post images on the internet or mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. (College of Policing 2014)

The number of LAC in the UK has increased in recent years. In 2008 there were 81,315 yet this rose to 92,728 in 2013 (NSPCC 2014). This makes the current situation and the need for this and other research in this area more prevalent than ever.       




  1. 1 Methodology used for literature review


Relevant research materials were identified using search terms related to the area such as “children”, “looked after”, “young people” with “missing from care” and “runaway” anywhere in the text. The search terms were kept broad so relevant material was not missed and a range of materials was used including websites, books, journals and newspaper articles.

A comprehensive search was done using a scoping review of literature in this area which discovered a mass of research dating back centuries. For this review only recent and relevant research is included.


  1. 2 Literature review

The review unearthed a number of vulnerabilities affecting LAC and disputes between researchers. Bowlby’s (1944) attachment theory believed children require consistent and continuous care from a primary care giver during their first 5 years, disruption to this could result in them having emotional difficulties and problems forming attachments with people later in life (Newburn 2007). Yet Wedge and Prosser (1973) argued some children were born to fail due to lack of opportunity, poverty and an alienating environment. Children and young people are taken into care for many reasons; most commonly (62%) because they have been victims of abuse and neglect (DFE 2013). Research found 41% per cent of children in custody had been in care at some point (Hazel et al. 2002) and further figures (Taylor, 2006) showed LAC are three times more likely to be cautioned or convicted of an offence than their peers.  Another reoccurring theme was a large number of LAC suffers some degree of mental health. A study of LAC found two-thirds of the local care population had a mental health disorder and those in residential care rose to 96% (Mc Cann et al. 1996). All of these are factors that further exacerbate LAC vulnerability to CSE (Barnardo’s 2012; Berelowitz et al. 2012; Cockbain and Brayley 2012)

LAC absconding from care is not a new concept but is becoming more prevalent and concerning. Yet there is a distinct lack of research from the young person’s perspective, despite it being every child’s right to give their views and to be heard (Article 12, UNCRC 1989). There are huge benefits of listening to the voices of vulnerable children and is argued this can lead to successful interventions (Triseliotis et al. 1995), give them a positive sense of identity (Eide & Winger 2005), increased confidence and assertiveness (Kinney 2005) and some even believe it can make them less vulnerable to ill-treatment (Cairns and Brannen 2005). It is hoped this study will go some way to fill this void in research. A similar study by Ofsted (2012) asked LAC for their views on running away from care. However, all participants were given a shopping token. Payment or gifts as incentives for participation in research is controversial and raises ethical concerns and seen by some as coercive and undue inducement. Inducements that would usually be acceptable may become undue influences if the participant is especially vulnerable (Royal College of Physicians 2007), such as LAC. For these reasons, this study offered no form of incentive to participants and was made clear from the outset.

A participatory research project (Taylor et al 2012) using young people as peer interviewers found the reasons given for LAC running away were authority and power, friction, isolation and environmental issues. Going missing can also be an indicator of CSE (Jago et al. 2011; APPG 2012) and research suggests LAC are particularly vulnerable to this (Wade et al. 1998; Jago and Pearce 2008; Barnardos 2011; APPG 2012). This association was also recognised and acknowledged within the Governments (2012) CSE Action Plan. Throughout the study several prominent reports and research have developed in the area including two major inquiries in 2012; the APPG inquiry into why LAC go missing and the OCC’s on-going inquiry into CSE in Gangs and Groups. Both found LAC in residential care are at particular risk of going missing and vulnerable to CSE and other exploitation.

Over the last decade there have been many reports significant in developing operational practices of missing persons throughout the UK (Tarling and Burrows 2004). For example, it was hoped the revised definition of a Missing Person (ACPO 2013) with the added category of absent would assist with risk management; ensuring resources were deployed efficiently whilst supporting and demanding a multi-agency commitment to better safeguard vulnerable children and adults (ACPO 2013). The new definition was piloted in four police forces during 2011 however an evaluation of the pilot (Bayliss and Quinton 2013) revealed a far from perfect system compromised by poor information sharing and lack of clarity on how to accurately assess risk. Yet the report also showed the number of missing investigations had reduced suggesting savings could be achieved. Although past data and analysis statistics from the MPB will not be comparable due to the change in definitions. Positives were demonstrated although not everybody agrees with the new definitions and have raised concerns in relation to safeguarding children and young people. TCS and National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) warned the changes could put children at risk as it prioritised assessing efficiency savings rather than safeguarding of children (BBC 2013).


The DCSF (2009) found 90% of children subjected to sexual grooming will also have been missing at some point. Throughout all the research the fundamental issue was that LAC are vulnerable, at risk and need protecting.



  1. 1 Methodology

The research was conducted by speaking with LAC in residential homes via semi structured interviews and questionnaires using an appreciative inquiry (see appendices) and questionnaires with care staff. Qualitative approaches are diverse, complex and nuanced (Holloway and Todres 2003) yet using an amalgamation of research techniques and mixed methods (Punch, 2009) provided both quantitative and qualitative results respectively thus producing a more complete overview on the subject.

This research takes on an interpretive epistemological approach (Robson, 2002) arguing that each participant’s experiences are subjective, unique and loaded with subjective interpretation and meaning (Luck et al. 2006). However the researcher contained the double hermeneutic (Giddens, 1997) by not interpreting the LAC comments and recorded them verbatim. Thematic analysis was chosen to analyse the qualitative data as it reflects the reality of the participants and is considered realist or essentialist (Braun and Clarke 2006).


  1. 2 Sample groups

Four children’s residential homes were visited; two under local authority care and two privately run. All occupants and staff members were invited to participate. Although it was stressed the data would be confidential and complete anonymity kept, some people refused to disclose personal details. Eleven care staff partook in the study. Five were female, two male and four refused this information. Their ages ranged from 26 to 53 years and three refused their age. Their experience of working within the care system spanned from 4 to nearly 39 years.

Six LAC partook in the research. Three were female, three male and all between 13 and 16 years old with experience of the care system ranging across foster and residential care settings throughout the UK. Time spent in care by these LAC ranged from 8 months to 11 years. The earliest age LAC entered the care system was 3 years old with the eldest being 14. The total number of separate placements experienced by LAC ranged from 2 to 18.

The researcher chose LAC as the focus for the research project as they are often thought of as one of the most vulnerable (Care inquiry 2013), hard to reach (Pomerantz et al. 2007) and challenging yet rewarding (Guishard-Pine et al. 2007) groups in community. Concern regarding LAC missing from care has risen up the political agenda in recent years (APPG 2012) which is in line with high profile cases and inquiries and the increased media coverage this has brought.


  1. 3 Limitations to the research

The researcher is an undergraduate student that accomplished this academic two year work-based research project as part of their degree in criminology and restorative justice. This was via distance learning whilst working full time in a challenging, demanding role with long hours, as a police constable. However, the main restrictions to the study were the actual logistics of time management and obtaining consent. Due to it being a small scale research project with limited data it was inappropriate to use visual summaries such as graphs to present findings and as such the researcher was unable to make statistical inferences.


  1. 4 Ethical considerations

Strict ethical guidelines were adhered to throughout this study. Participants were fully and clearly informed on the purpose of the research project by the use of a clear and concise consent form and an information sheet explaining the researchers expectations, how to complain, refuse permission or withdraw from the research project at any time (see appendices). The researcher remained objective and impartial whilst conscious of the fact that sensitive and / or criminal matters could have been raised during the course of the research, which was a concern. Prior to the study participants were informed that if unlawful activity is disclosed as a result of the interviews and questionnaires the researcher will be obliged to act upon this information. This was again made clear on the consent form. Permission was sought from both the service manager and service director for Children’s Social Care in Nottinghamshire and after reading the participant information sheet, written consent was gained from each participant, social worker acting as appropriate adult and each residential home manager.

In order to guarantee anonymity and confidentiality of data, the identity of all homes and participants in the research project were kept confidential and referred to only as letters and numbers i.e. LAC A from Home 1 and care staff B from Home 2 and so forth.  Every effort has been taken to ensure nothing in this report would enable any LAC, home or staff member to be identified. Ethical approval was sought from the ethics committee at De Montfort University (DMU), prior to the start of the research and the researcher abided to all legal requirements and ethical codes of conduct in relation to equality and diversity, whilst acting professionally with the upmost of integrity. This was to ensure the research was completed to the highest possible methodological standard and the highest quality in order that maximum possible knowledge and benefits accrue to society (British Society of Criminology 2014).


  1. 5 Dissemination of research

The researcher will have ownership over the information and research project of which shall be disseminated to DMU, Nottinghamshire police and the Nottinghamshire County Council. The research may also be published through professional and academic media.




  1. 1 Key findings from LAC

All participants had been missing from care between 10 and 54 times although three participants did not remember and just stated “lots”. One LAC clarified that to them “lots” meant over 30. Participants were asked if they prefer foster or residential care. Two chose foster, two residential, one picked both and one had only been in residential care so was unable to compare from personal experience.  Nearly all participants stated they were not happy in care; only one LAC said they were happy in care and they had been in care for just 8 months. Half had been the victim of crime whilst in care.


The findings from the interviews and questionnaires can be separated into four main categories of thought;

The reasons given why they run (1), participants thoughts as to why other LAC run  (2), experiences whilst missing (3) and participants views on preventive strategies to reduce LAC missing from care (4).

1) LAC were asked why they have run from care:

Numerous reasons were given by the participants and can be broken down into two separate categories; push and pull factors.

Addressing the causes of running away – push and pull factors

Reasons given why LAC run away:

 Push factors:

  •  Boredom
  • Problems / issues with the placement 


To one LAC boredom and lack of facilities at the home played a part;

LAC (G) – “The place was sh*it! It got too much being in care and it was boring, they didn’t even have sky TV. It was so f*cking sh*t so I smashed a staff member’s car up and got arrested”.

  •  Believe staff don’t care about them

The belief staff don’t care about the LAC was raised repeatedly;

LAC (A) – “staff don’t care about us. It’s obvious. They don’t give us any time or attention…nobody gives a sh*t what we do or where we are so long as they get paid. It’s just a job for them they don’t really care about us. “

 Pull factors:


  • CSE
  • Family problems
  • Suicidal
  • Self harm
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Missing / to see friends


One participant did not class themselves as missing although socialising and alcohol contributed;

LAC (C) – “I’m not really “missing”. It’s not like I run away or anything I just go to my mates…or go out getting drunk if it’s a mad night.”

  •  Missing / to see family

One participant just wanted to see his mother;

LAC (E) – “I don’t like being care I just want to be with my mum…that’s why I run away, to go and see her.”

 2) Participants were asked for their thoughts as to why LAC run from care:

 Reasons they believe other LAC run from care:

 Push factors:

  •  Problems / issues with the placement
  • Boredom
  • Stress


Boredom and stress was again quoted as a factor;

Researcher – “why do you think LAC run from care?”

 LAC (B) – “Bored, nothing to do and stressed…just want to get away and out.”

  •  Believe staff  don’t care about them
  • Believe family don’t care about them
  • Peer pressure


Pull factors:

  •  Missing / to see friends
  • Missing / to see family


Separation from family and friends was repeated throughout;

LAC (E) – “…like me they might just want to see their family and friends”

  •  To commit crime to obtain money
  • Peer pressure

Illegal activity in order to obtain money as well as pressure from peers was quoted;

LAC (F) – “They may just want to get away…or to do crime to get money or because of peer pressure”

Overall the majority of the reasons given were classed as push factors. Peer pressure appears in both categories as it can occur in the residential home or outside and be classed as both a push and pull factor.

3) Participants were asked for their experiences whilst missing – where they went, what they did and what if any, harm came to them:

Activities whilst missing:

  •  Took drugs
  • Anything to forget
  • Committed crime
  • Walked around
  • Visited friends
  • Visited family
  • Drunk alcohol


As previously quoted, alcohol is a factor;

LAC (E) – “Sometimes I’d get completely wasted with my mates on drink”

Harm suffered whilst missing:

  •  Involved in fights
  • CSE
  • Gun held to head
  • Knife put to throat


Participants disclosed horrific harm they had suffered;

LAC (B) – “I was sexually exploited, had a gun put against my head, a knife against my throat but I just shouted “Go on then, do it!” They didn’t, they were scared. I have been stabbed before though”

  •  Witnessed murder


It was not only physical harm participants disclosed. One LAC witnessed a horrendous event whilst but did not consider this a form of harm;

 Researcher – “Whilst missing were you ever harmed?”

 LAC (E) – “No but I did witness a murder…I saw a bloke get pushed down some stairs and another bloke kicking and jumping all over his head till he stopped moving.”

Crime committed whilst missing:

  •  Shop lifting
  • Grievous bodily harm
  • Actual bodily harm
  • Common assault
  • Criminal damage
  • Theft

 4) Participants were asked for their views on what may work as preventative strategies to try and reduce LAC from going missing. They were keen to offer advice to the police and care staff:

 Advice to police:

  •  Be more flexible
  • Talk and listen to LAC
  • Be respectful


Participants emphasised the importance of being treated and spoken to with respect by police;

Researcher “what did you think of response from police?”

LAC (C) – “I hate them! They’re f*cking tw*ts! They’re all disrespectful and talk down to you…because they’ve got a badge and uniform they think they’re better than you! Don’t talk to us like we’re tw*ts, we’re not! They need to talk to us like we’re normal people”

Researcher – “What could police do to try and reduce people running from care?”

LAC (B) – “Not be tw*ts. Not have a go at us and tell us we’re wasting their time”

  •  Don’t search friends houses when LAC are missing


One participant was unhappy police search her friend’s houses when she is missing;

LAC (C) –“I don’t like police…they go to my mate’s houses, search them, p*ss them off and then they fall out with me! I’ve lost friends because of police!”

  •  Improve communications between social services and police


One participant highlighted the need of communication between agencies;

LAC (E) – “Police need to speak to social services and see what they can do to help”

 Advice to care staff:

  •  Take time to talk and listen to LAC


Communications between staff and LAC was again emphasised;

LAC (F) – “They need to listen to us and pay us attention. They should sit us down and actually talk to us”

  •  Be more flexible / more independence and free time to allow LAC to see friends and family more
  • Provide activities for the LAC


The provision of activities, flexibility and independence were stressed as key issues;

LAC (A) – “Give us time and activities to do so we’re not bored”

LAC (C) – “be more flexible with what time I can come back and where I can go…I just want to stay at my friend’s house, that’s not unreasonable”

  •  Show and give respect
  • Improve communications between social services and police
  • Let LAC live nearer to their families
  • Educate LAC on the dangers of going missing

Risky behaviour:

All participants said they had been in trouble with the police whilst in care with only one LAC stating they did not commit any criminal offences whilst missing. All except one participant admitted to self harming. Half had been bullied whilst in care, one by staff at a previous residential placement although only one LAC did not like staff at their current home, even if it was just one member of staff and one participant said they had been pressured into doing something whilst in care but did not elaborate.


  1. 2 Key findings from care staff


The findings from the questionnaires can be separated into three main categories.


Thoughts on why LAC run from care (1), views on current policies and procedures including the police response to LAC missing from care (2), participants views on what may work as preventive strategies and recommendations (3).

1) Participants were asked for their thoughts on why LAC run from care:

Numerous reasons were given but again these can be broken down into two separate groups; push and pull factors.

Thoughts on why LAC run from care:

Push factors:

  • Lack of boundaries / restrictions including physical boundaries
  • Tying to push the boundaries
  • Feeling no one cares
  • Feeling no one listens to them
  • Control
  • Boredom
  • Not happy with homes rules / regulations
  • Refusing to cooperate
  • Arguments with peers
  • Bullying by peers
  • Peer pressure
  • Unhappy in placement
  • Unhappy in current situation
  • Attention seeking
  • Feeling overwhelmed and wanting to escape

Pull factors:

  • Wanting freedom
  • Drink
  • Drugs
  • Sex
  • Partying
  • Socialising
  • Looking for excitement
  • Vulnerable to CSE
  • Placed away from family
  • Missing family
  • Wanting to fit in with their peers
  • Peer pressure

All staff felt they have enough time to spend with the LAC and LAC are offered the help and support they need but not all accept it or engage and if they don’t they may not be offered it again. There were concerns that at times it can take too long to get the help and support needed. On the whole, participants like their jobs but at times can find it frustrating.


2) Participants were asked for their views on current policies and procedures on LAC missing from care and thoughts and experiences of police response:

Thoughts on current policies and procedures of LAC missing from care:

  • Better and more realistic than they used to be
  • Few grey areas – clarification needed
  • Interpreted differently by different agencies and different take on risk
  • Strong structure for staff to follow
  • Clear and easy to follow
  • Thorough but does not cover all situations and eventualities


Views and experiences of the police response to LAC missing from care:


  • Better than it used to be and more realistically guided
  • Experiences vary depending on the police officer
  • Consistent
  • Responsible and fast to respond
  • Mostly helpful
  • Some officers are understanding of the situation



  • Occasions when police policies clash with care home policies which does not benefit the child
  • Some officers treat missing LAC as a waste of their time and don’t take it seriously
  • Feels like missing LAC is the norm and not a priority for police
  • Once LAC located police refuse to back care staff up and never go to addresses given
  • Police lack the knowledge of why LAC are really in care – it’s not all about crime
  • Experiences vary depending on the police officer
  • Consistent


The comments, “experiences vary depending on the officer” and “police are consistent” has been placed in both the positive and negative category as the comments could be taken either way and seen as both good and bad depending on the context of the situation.


3) Participants recommendations and preventive strategies:

Recommendations in general:

  • Updated policies with inputs incorporating social care and police so everybody is clear of their role in the system
  • Outside agencies working with care staff more positively – especially during missing episodes
  • Incorporating LAC state of mind when completing risk assessments rather than just length of time missing
  • Improved resources for staff in care homes and other professionals
  • More resources and money whilst being realistic with given financial climate
  • Government to stop cutting funding and resources
  • More activities and holidays available for the LAC
  • Social workers to be consistent in the LAC life – change of social worker can be very disruptive for LAC


Recommendations for police:

  • Updated policies with inputs incorporating social care and police so everybody is clear of their role in the system
  • Incorporating LAC state of mind when completing risk assessments rather than just length of time missing
  • More patience, concern and empathy from police
  • Greater understanding of policies and procedure care staff must adhere to and reasons why
  • Understanding various reasons care staff have concerns for the LAC
  • Training around the care system and the traumatic life experiences the LAC have had to provide a greater understanding
  • Information on what exactly care staff do and how they work

The updating of policies whilst incorporating views of social care and police is relevant for both columns.

Participants see the positives and negatives of residential care;

Worst aspect of residential care:

  •  Not a “normal” life for the LAC. Simple everyday things aren’t normal due to policies, procedures and health and safety.
  • The society we live in still requires residential homes
  • Changes of carers due to shifts compared to foster care
  • No authority for staff to enforce boundaries or consequences – too soft on LAC
  • A more stable family home or environment is not available
  • Placing the wrong mix of LAC together in homes where staff are unable to cope with the behaviours


Best aspect of residential care:

  • Chance for LAC to get help and support
  • Knowing you have helped LAC in a small way
  • To support LAC through a difficult time in their lives
  • Keeping LAC safe
  • Working with many different LAC with diverse needs
  • Consistency in working with LAC
  • Building trust and relationships with LAC that last years
  • Watching LAC grow up and witness positive improvements in their lives
  • Providing boundaries LAC need
  • Care staff showing they care and worry about LAC with the risks they take
  • Always different carers working allowing LAC to see a variety of people each day
  • Carers care, take responsibility and are good role models for LAC
  • Carers have experience and skills in a variety of areas which benefits LAC
  • Helping and supporting LAC become independent
  • Attitudes of staff and working with genuine staff that care
  • The amount of activities and opportunities LAC get

One participant did not answer as they believed the questions were best suited for LAC themselves to answer.




The key findings that emerged from the study outlined the different reasons provided by LAC themselves as to why they run from care, their experiences whilst missing and the suggested preventative strategies in order to try and reduce LAC going missing from care. It also captured the thoughts and opinions of care staff as to why LAC run from care, current policies and procedures as well as suggesting future strategies and recommendations.

Numerous reasons were given by the both groups of participant’s, as to why LAC run from care however researchers suggest these can be broken down into two categories; push and pull factors (Biehal and Wade 2000; Finkelstein et al. 2004). LAC may feel “pushed” from their residential home for a number of reasons and are generally related to environmental factors in their placements. Or they may feel “pulled” towards someone (friends/family) and / or something (drugs / alcohol). Although push and pull factors aren’t always separate and can be intertwined with each other (Biehal and Wade 1999), both groups identified more push factors as reasons why LAC run from care.

LAC repeatedly raised concerns that they believe staff do not care for them or spend enough time with them. Their lack of attachment with care staff could be related to Bowlby’s attachment theory (1944) as two participants that entered care at 3 years old cited this as a factor. Yet there it criticism to this theory and Wootton (1959) argued separation is not the same as deprivation and it is the quality of the relationship that matters. Whereas Harlow’s (1958) research with monkeys illustrated that when reared in isolation away from their mother, they grew aggressive and suffered from emotional and social problems later in life. Yet Goldberg (2010) found children with a difficult childhood could form attachments although a number of these were insecure. Nevertheless recent research (Sinclair et al. 2007 and Biehal et al. 2010) contradicts this and found it is those who enter care later in life that are more likely to experience placement instability and problems forming attachments. James (1994) built on the attachment theory and recognised the importance of a therapeutic relationship between a LAC and an adult. All staff believed they are given enough time with LAC and several cited that working with and building relationships with LAC is the best aspect of residential care. Participants valued staffs listening skills, giving them time and being reliable. This is consistent with previous research in residential care (Berridge and Brodie 1998).  And when there is good relationship between staff and LAC, the experience is positive;

LAC (F) – “staff here are good. They talk to you and give you time. They play on my Xbox with me but at the old home they didn’t do anything…”

Nevertheless there are occasions when LAC runs from a danger actually inside the home. LAC (C) described her experience of a previous residential home;

“It was horrible, the worst ever! I was physically abused by staff and my friend was sexually abused by them…we couldn’t run away, the windows and doors were always locked…we were trapped

Although uncommon, it must be ensured residential homes are safe environments for children and physical and sexual abuse by staff, are things of the past (Utting 1997). Boredom was also quoted by both groups as a common push factor; this is supported by research (Finkelstein et al. 2004; Vanderven 2004).

One of the biggest pull factors quoted by both groups was the need for LAC to see family and friends; this is supported by previous research (Biehal and Wade 2000; Finkelstein et al. 2004).  Two participants stated the worst aspect of being in care is not seeing their family yet another highlighted this as a positive. Whereas some staff consider the worst aspect of residential care is that there is still a need for it in today’s society. There may be child protection issues in relation to the families that LAC were unaware of nevertheless from their perspectives they were not running away from care, just running back to their family. Despite this the APPG (2012) report found half of LAC in residential homes live outside their local authority, nearly one third (30%) living more than 20 miles from their family and friends. All LAC in this study have siblings, some in care, some not. In (2011) an Ofsted report found 73% of LAC, with siblings also in care, were separated from them and placed in different placements.

Taking these statistics into consideration it is no surprise that isolation and loneliness features highly amongst LAC (Smeaton 2013) and they may look for love affection elsewhere, which is where bigger problems can arise. Both groups identified CSE as a pull factor, with LAC (B) citing it as a reason she went missing from care on numerous occasions. Some young people are not even aware they are victims of CSE as the abuser manipulates them into believing they are in a loving relationship (Cockbain and Brayley 2012). CSE is a horrific form of child abuse which is complex and the biggest child protection issue of our time (DFE 2012). Care staff in the study expressed concerns regarding CSE and the response from police was at times inconsistent, with some officers treating missing LAC as “a waste of their time”, particularly if they were frequent absconders. Although some agencies may perceive LAC that abscond frequently to be at less harm and streetwise, this assumption cannot be sustained when in reality repeated missing episodes may suggest a young person is at very high risk of CSE (CEOP 2011). LAC (B) had been missing from care over 54 times and was the victim of CSE. Previous research (Bond 1995) found children find it difficult to talk about their negative experiences and may be reluctant to trust adults and share their feelings (Dahl and Aubrey 2006). However in this study several participants disclosed harmful experiences they had whilst missing. LAC (B) stated a gun was placed against her head and a knife held to her throat and LAC (E) even witnessed a person being murdered whilst missing. The APPG (2012) report recognised missing LAC are at serious risk of physical abuse and CSE and it is vital agencies are aware of this. Biehal and Wade (1999) consider each missing episode should be treated as equally concerning regardless how many times the young person has previously absconded.

Within this study several staff articulated concerns that other agencies interpret policies and procedures differently and have dissimilar views of risk when LAC goes missing. They believe the LAC state of mind should be incorporated when risk assessing, rather than just the length of time missing. This is concerning the new definitions of absent and unauthorised absence. They are not the first to express misgivings. The NSPCC (2014) are concerned it will increase the vulnerability of children at risk of being groomed and CSE and they propose that the length of time a child goes missing is irrelevant as abuse can occur very quickly and at any time. CEOP (2011) noted some perpetrators of CSE deliberately return victim’s home before their curfew in an attempt to avoid detection.

Drugs and alcohol were also quoted by both groups as pull factors. All LAC confessed to smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs. Research shows young people with drug and alcohol problems are four times as likely to run away as those without (Rees and Lees 2005). LAC (F) had strong views on police and did not think they should be involved when LAC go missing from care. He was unaware police search for any missing person not just LAC and admitted he has had a lot of involvement with police;

“I’ve been in trouble with the police a lot. Been in court recently for stamping on a guy’s head but I got away with it…I’ve assaulted a teacher before as well”

Whilst in care all participants had been in trouble with police. This is supported by a House of Commons report (2012) which found LAC are more than twice as likely to be involved in the criminal justice system than their peers not in care. Only one LAC did not commit any criminal offences whilst missing. The range of offences committed ranged from shop lifting to causing grevious bodily harm. This is a serious concern that requires further investigation but is beyond the scope of the current study.

LAC cited occasion’s police showed no respect calling them “a waste of time and space”. They stressed it was not all police and some were “alright and could have a laugh”. Previous research emphasises the importance of showing respect to LAC (Stanley 2002; Davies and Wright 2008) and it must be remembered that children’s future responses could well be influenced by previously damaging interactions with adults (Golding et al. 2006; Hughes 2004). Labeling such as this has negative connotations and could become a self-fulfilling prophecy (Merton 1948); that is to say that if LAC are repeatedly told they are a waste of time and space they may start to believe and evoke actions on this.

A similar theme emerged from staff when giving their views and experiences of police response to missing LAC. The remarks given were mainly negative and it was stated on occasions they had to “convince” police a LAC was missing rather than “absent”. Ignorance in police was also cited, both in relation to the care systems policies and procedures as well as the actual reasons why LAC are in care. Again, it was stressed this is not the case for all police and there is great inconsistency between individual officers.

LAC were keen to offer advice to police and care staff to try and reduce missing episodes. It is interesting to note the advice given to both agencies is not dissimilar. They advised both they should be respectful, talk and listen to LAC, be more flexible with rules and improve communications between both agencies. Communication between agencies is vital and has been highlighted tirelessly throughout research (Baginsky 2007; Datta and Hart 2008). A review into child protection found inadequate communications between agencies can sometimes mean the difference between life and death (Lord Laming report 2009).

The requirement to educate LAC on the dangers of going missing was also emphasized.  The need for greater independence and to see friends and family was reiterated throughout the study. More provisions and activities were called for by both groups of participants, yet staff recognised the financial implications of this. The necessity for consistency and clarity of roles within both the police and social care was evident.




  1. 1 Conclusion

The objective of this study was to identify why LAC run from care and if anything can be done to reduce it. The research was successful as it identified a multitude of reasons why LAC may run from care. These were individual to the young person and it is recognised that there is not one simple solution to the problem. However, participants suggested preventative strategies to try and reduce the issue and these have been used to develop recommendations for professional policies and practices in the future. The study sought to understand the experiences of LAC whilst missing and uncovered severe physical and emotional harm and abuse.

Disparity and inconsistency amongst multi-agencies, lack of respect and negative attitudes was highlighted repeatedly throughout the study, both by the LAC and care staff. The findings emphasize that due attention must be given to collaboration of agencies and demonstrates the urgent need for clarity, clarification and consistency regarding the different roles and responsibilities of all agencies.  The study has shown the key to success lies in coordinated multi-agency working, sharing information and developing ways and means to help and protect vulnerable LAC, whilst clarifying the roles and responsibilities of each agency. This in turn will help to improve consistency and provide a more effective response. This standpoint is clearly supported by the findings of this study.

Further preventative strategies included educating police and LAC on the reasons why LAC may be in care, why they may run away and the signs and dangers of CSE whilst raising awareness of the help and support available. It is vital this knowledge reaches all officers that have any involvement in LAC. The majority of suggested preventative strategies from participants referred to reducing the push factors and managing the pull factors. The future recommendations made reflect these notions.

As highlighted by numerous care staff, the worst aspect of residential homes is that in this day and age, there is still a need and requirement for them. However, this is not going to change anytime soon and it is imperative that action is taken now to protect this most vulnerable group.


  1. 2 Suggestions for future research


Should this study be repeated, consideration should be given to using a larger sample group in order to produce more quantitative data which could be used for statistical analysis. Also the study may have benefited with the inclusion of police officers completing questionnaires with their views and opinions on the matter. The findings may have differed and could be compared to those from the LAC and care staff. Any similarities or contradictions could be explored further. There are many possibilities for future research in this area. One to explore is a participatory project using peer interviewees as this may present different results. Another concept would be to use care leavers and comparisons could be drawn between them and those still in care.


  1. 3 Future recommendations:


The findings from the interviews and questionnaires carried out indicate the following recommendations would be welcomed by LAC and care staff whilst being beneficial in reducing LAC going missing from care.

  • Respect, empathy and understanding to all LAC and agencies


  • Inter-agency and multi-agency approach; current guidance / joint protocol revised with input from both police and social services, including a similar risk assessment or ones that complement one another


  • Clarity and clarification on the roles and responsibilities of police and social care and expectations of each other


  • Education and raised awareness for LAC on the dangers of running away and CSE, the role of the police and help and support available to them


  • Training and raised awareness for police on the reasons LAC may be in care, why they may run and the dangers and signs of CSE


  • Reduction of out area placements


  • Greater provision of activities and resources for LAC


“Safety and security don’t just happen; they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear”

Nelson Mandela



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