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Friday, November 2, 2018

Sociological Crime Theories IX Situational Crime Prevention Theory

Sociological Crime Theories IX Situational Crime Prevention Theory
Crime Prevention Theory, as proposed by Clarke (1995, 1997), focuses on reducing crime opportunities rather than on the characteristics of criminals or potential criminals. The strategy is to increase the associated risks and difficulties, and reduce the rewards. It asserts that crime is often committed through the accident of a practical or attractive opportunity, e.g. that a car is found unlocked or a window left open. Patterns in criminal activity are not simply based on where criminals live, but also reflect a concentration of opportunities for crime constituting "hot spots". For example, theft may concentrate on particular "hot products" and some repeat victims are more likely to experience crime than other people. Shoplifting and mugging may be endemic to identifiable locations. Hence, by using statistical data, enforcement resources can target areas, and education can reduce the number of opportunities. See crime mapping, Chainey & Ratcliffe (2005). SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 3 What do you understand by the situation crime prevention theory of crime? 4.0 CONCLUSION Sociological crime theorising is quite interesting. These theories examine crime from a myriad of angles and generate from varied sociological backgrounds. These theories are quite enlightening and need to be critically examined for better appreciation. 5.0 SUMMARY In this unit, we have been able to discuss sociological theories like social disorganisation theory, rational choice theory and situation crime prevention theory. We also looked at how these theories throw more light on the happenstances of crime. In the next unit we shall continue 286 this critical examination of theories of crime. Congratulations for the successful completion of this unit. 6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT i. List the theories of crime you know. ii. Explain three theories of crime. 7.0 REFERENCES/FURTHER READING Clarke, Ronald R. (ed.) (1997). Situational Crime Prevention: Successful Case Studies. Second Edition. New York: Harrow and Heston. Clarke, R. V. (1995). "Situational crime prevention" in Building a Safer Society: Strategic Approaches to Crime Prevention, Michael Tonry & Farrington, David (eds.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Cohen, L. E. & Felson, M. (1979). "Social change and crime rate trends: a routine activity approach". American Sociological Review, Vol 44, pp588-608. Felson, M. (1997). "Technology, business, and crime". in Business and Crime Prevention. Felson, M. & Clarke, R. V. (eds.). Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press. 287 UNIT 5 SOCIOLOGICAL CRIME THEORIES (CONT) CONTENTS 1.0 Introduction 2.0 Objectives 3.0 Main Content 3.1 Sociological theories X 3.2 Sociological crime theories XI 3.3 Sociological crime theories XII 4.0 Conclusion 5.0 Summary 6.0 Tutor-Marked Assignment 7.0 References / Further Reading 1.0 INTRODUCTION Sociological theories explain social relationship between factors that cause crime within the society. These theories were propounded by experts in the field of sociology to explain crime within the society. It should be noted that these theories look at crime from personal and societal perspectives In this unit we will critically examine the theories the explain crime from a sociological perspective. 2.0 OBJECTIVES At the end of this unit, you should be able to:  identify the sociological theories of crime  discuss how these theories explain criminal behaviour  explain the theoretical underpinning of crime from a sociological perspective  give a general overview of the usefulness of these theories. 3.0 MAIN CONTENT 3.1 Sociological Crime Theories X Rational Choice Theory Through Rational Choice Theory, Cornish and Clarke (1986) describe crime as an event that occurs when an offender decides to risk breaking the law after considering his or her own need for money, personal values or learning experiences and how well a target is protected, how affluent the neighborhood is or how efficient the local police are. Before committing a crime, the criminal weighs the chances of getting 288 caught;the severity of the expected penalty; the value to be gained by committing the act and his or her immediate needs for that value. Sutton describes how Clark links Crime Prevention Theory to Rational Choice Theory by his proposed set of opportunity reduction techniques. The intention is to increase the perceived effort necessary to commit a crime, or increase the perceived risks of apprehension, or reduce the anticipated rewards of a crime, or remove the excuses to compliance with the law. (Clarke, 1997: 15-25). The intention would be to design out crime, i.e. to make the disincentives to the commission of crime consistently outweigh the potential benefits. This would involve concerted efforts by the manufacturers of standard equipment prone to theft, to design in-built security systems so that stolen goods cannot be used without a PIN or can be tracked. It also involves the adoption of surveillance technology to tag goods in stores electronically, install camera systems to monitor behavior, improve street lighting, have more police officers on patrol, assist householders to improve their home security, etc. A co-ordinated strategy would potentially prevent more crime and so be more costeffective than imprisoning the few offenders that are currently apprehended. This theory is predicated on the assumption that humans have sets of hierarchically ordered preferences, or utilities. By reducing the opportunities for the commission of crimes and "target hardening", i.e. making it more difficult to break into houses or to steal from shops, and encouraging more authority figures to assume responsibility, potential offenders will be deterred. There is some criticism that better protecting one area will simply displace crime into a less well protected area but the evidence is as yet equivocal on whether displacement does occur. However, the main problem is in re-ordering political priorities away from a penal-orientated strategy towards a crime prevention strategy. At present, many states have invested heavily in the former and see no immediate need to change their policies. SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 1 Explain the rational choice theory of crime. 3.2 Sociological Crime Theories XI Routine activity theory Routine activity theory is a sub-field of rational choice criminology, developed by Marcus Felson. 289 Routine activity theory says that crime is normal and depends on the opportunities available. If a target is not protected enough, and if the reward is worth it, crime will happen. Crime does not need hardened offenders, super-predators, convicted felons or wicked people. Crime just needs an opportunity. The basic premise of routine activity theory is that most crimes are petty theft and unreported to the police. Crime is not spectacular nor dramatic. It is mundane and happens all the time. Another premise is that crime is relatively unaffected by social causes such as poverty, inequality, unemployment. For instance, after World War II, the economy of Western countries was booming and the Welfare states were expanding. During that time, crime rose significantly. According to Felson and Cohen, this is because the prosperity of contemporary society offers so much opportunities of crime: there is much more to steal. Routine activity theory is controversial among sociologists who believe in the social causes of crime. But several types of crime are very well explained by routine activity theory: - copyright infringement related to peer-to-peer file sharing - employee theft - corporate crime SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 2 Explain the routine activity theory of crime. 3.3 Sociological Crime Theories XII Social Learning Theory Why do people engage in crime according to social learning theory? They learn to engage in crime, primarily through their association with others. They are reinforced for crime, they learn beliefs that are favorable to crime, and they are exposed to criminal models. As a consequence, they come to view crime as something that is desirable or at least justifiable in certain situations. The primary version of social learning theory in criminology is that of Ronald Akers and the description that follows draws heavily on his work. Akers's theory, in turn, represents an elaboration of Edwin Sutherland's differential 290 association theory (also see the related work of Albert Bandura in psychology). According to social learning theory, juveniles learn to engage in crime in the same way they learn to engage in conforming behavior: through association with or exposure to others. Primary or intimate groups like the family and peer group have an especially large impact on what we learn. In fact, association with delinquent friends is the best predictor of delinquency other than prior delinquency. However, one does not have to be in direct contact with others to learn from them; for example, one may learn to engage in violence from observation of others in the media. Most of social learning theory involves a description of the three mechanisms by which individuals learn to engage in crime from these others: differential reinforcement, beliefs, and modeling. Differential Reinforcement of Crime: Individuals may teach others to engage in crime through the reinforcements and punishments they provide for behavior. Crime is more likely to occur when it (a) is frequently reinforced and infrequently punished; (b) results in large amounts of reinforcement (e.g., a lot of money, social approval, or pleasure) and little punishment; and (c) is more likely to be reinforced than alternative behaviors. Reinforcements may be positive or negative. In positive reinforcement, the behavior results in something good—some positive consequence. This consequence may involve such things as money, the pleasurable feelings associated with drug use, attention from parents, approval from friends, or an increase in social status. In negative reinforcement, the behavior results in the removal of something bad—a punisher is removed or avoided. For example, suppose one's friends have been calling her a coward because she refuses to use drugs with them. The individual eventually takes drugs with them, after which time they stop calling her a coward. The individual's drug use has been negatively reinforced. According to social learning theory, some individuals are in environments where crime is more likely to be reinforced (and less likely to be punished). Sometimes this reinforcement is deliberate. For example, the parents of aggressive children often deliberately encourage and reinforce aggressive behavior outside the home. Or the adolescent's friends may reinforce drug use. At other times, the reinforcement for crime is less deliberate. For example, a harassed parent may give her screaming child a candy bar in the checkout line of a supermarket. Without intending to do so, the parent has just reinforced the child's aggressive behaviour. 291 Data indicate that individuals who are reinforced for crime are more likely to engage in subsequent crime, especially when they are in situations similar to those where they were previously reinforced. Beliefs Favorable to Crime Other individuals may not only reinforce our crime, they may also teach us beliefs favorable to crime. Most individuals, of course, are taught that crime is bad or wrong. They eventually accept or "internalize" this belief, and they are less likely to engage in crime as a result. Some individuals, however, learn beliefs that are favorable to crime and they are more likely to engage in crime as a result. Few people—including criminals—generally approve of serious crimes like burglary and robbery. Surveys and interviews with criminals suggest that beliefs favoring crime fall into three categories. And data suggest that each type of belief increases the likelihood of crime. First, some people generally approve of certain minor forms of crime, like certain forms of consensual sexual behavior, gambling, "soft" drug use, and—for adolescents—alcohol use, truancy, and curfew violation. Second, some people conditionally approve of or justify certain forms of crime, including some serious crimes. These people believe that crime is generally wrong, but that some criminal acts are justifiable or even desirable in certain conditions. Many people, for example, will state that fighting is generally wrong, but that it is justified if you have been insulted or provoked in some way. Gresham Sykes and David Matza have listed some of the more common justifications used for crime. Several theorists have argued that certain groups in our society— especially lower-class, young, minority males—are more likely to define violence as an acceptable response to a wide range of provocations and insults. And they claim that this "subculture of violence" is at least partly responsible for the higher rate of violence in these groups. Data in this area are somewhat mixed, but recent studies suggest that males, young people, and possibly lower-class people are more likely to hold beliefs favorable to violence. There is less evidence for a relationship between race and beliefs favorable to violence. Third, some people hold certain general values that are conducive to crime. These values do not explicitly approve of or justify crime, but they make crime appear a more attractive alternative than would otherwise be the case. Theorists such as Matza and Sykes have listed three general sets of values in this area: an emphasis on "excitement," "thrills," or "kicks"; a disdain for hard work and a desire for quick, easy success; and an emphasis on toughness or being "macho." Such values can be realized through legitimate as well as illegitimate channels, but 292 individuals with such values will likely view crime in a more favorable light than others. The imitation of criminal models: Behaviour is not only a function of beliefs and the reinforcements and punishments individuals receive, but also of the behavior of those around them. In particular, individuals often imitate or model the behavior of others—especially when they like or respect these others and have reason to believe that imitating their behavior will result in reinforcement. For example, individuals are more likely to imitate others' behavior if they observe them receive reinforcement for their acts. Social learning theory has much support and is perhaps the dominant theory of crime today. Data indicate that the people one associates with have a large impact on whether or not one engages in crime, and that this impact is partly explained by the effect these people have on one's beliefs regarding crime, the reinforcements and punishments one receives, and the models one is exposed to.

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