According to official statistics, there are significant ethnic differences in the likelihood of being involved in the criminal justice system. Specifically, black people are over-represented in the system. In this essay I will talk about the reasons for these differences.
One of the reasons for the differences in crime statistics is put forward but left realists Lea and Young, they argue that the statistics do, in fact, reflect real life differences. Left realists see crime as the product of relative deprivation, subcultures and marginalisation. They argue that racism has led to the marginalisation and economic exclusion of ethnic minorities, who face higher levels of unemployment, poverty and poor housing. This means that these minorities then get things they cannot usually get by illegitimate means. Delinquent subcultures are made especially by young unemployed black males; this produces higher levels of utilitarian crime, such as theft and robbery, as a means of coping with relative deprivation. Furthermore, because these groups are marginalised and have no organisations to represent their interests, their frustration is liable to produce non-utilitarian crime, such as violence and rioting. Lea and Young also acknowledge that the police often act in racist ways and that this results in the unjustified criminalisation of some members of minority groups. However, 90% of crimes are reported by the public, not police, therefore it is unlikely that the police do not act in discriminatory ways under these circumstances, it is unlikely that this can adequately account for ethnic differences in the statistics. They then conclude that the statistic’s represent real differences in levels of offending between ethnic groups and that these are caused by real differences in levels of relative deprivation and marginalisation. However,