Sociology: Ethnicity and Crime

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Using material from Item B and elsewhere, assess explanations for apparent ethnic differences in involvement in crime (21 Marks)

According to official statistics, ethnic minorities are largely linked to crime and their involvement if often over exaggerated. Item B shows that black people make up 11% of the prison population, despite the fact they make up just 2.8% of the population. Whilst, Asians make up 4.7% of the population yet 6% of the prison population. These statistics emphasise that ethnic minorities are over-represented in the criminal justice system, and so the use of alternate sources of statistics may help show a more accurate picture. Victim surveys ask individuals what crimes they have been victims of and help identify the correlation between ethnicity and offending. They tend to show a great deal of intra- ethnic crime but also include several limitations as they rely on victims memory of events which could result in over- identifying certain ethnic groups as the offender. Whereas, self- report studies ask individuals to disclose their own dishonest and violent behaviour. The findings of self- report studies challenge the stereotypes of black people as being more likely than whites to offend. However, self-report studies also have their own limitations as inconsistency is shown through the evidence of ethnicity and offending.

There are ethnic differences at each stage of the criminal justice process. Policing is often seen to be oppressive, as members of ethnic minorities are more likely to be stopped and searched with Asians being twice more likely than blacks to be stopped by the police. These allegations have meant ethnic minorities have limited faith in the police and therefore feel under protected. Police racism is one of the many causes behind stop and searches with the MacPherson report identifying institutional racism within the police force. These types of racist behaviour and stereotypes are endorsed and upheld by the “canteen...
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