Explain the Strengths and Weaknesses of One or More Criminological Theories for Explaining Crime in Contemporary Britain

Topics: Criminology, Crime, Sociology Pages: 7 (2649 words) Published: May 22, 2013

Explain the strengths and weaknesses of one or more criminological theories for explaining crime in contemporary Britain

Word count:1,200

Outline plan
* Explain in brief the purpose of this essay.
* Define the biological theory.
* Evaluate Lombroso’s theory and link it to contemporary Britain. Include statistical data. * Discuss Charles Goring’s critisms of Lombroso’s theory. * Evaluate Sheldon’s somatypes theory.

* Describe and evaluate the biological chromosomes theory. * State how Patria Jacobs’ study of the XYY genotype is tested by Stanley Walzer and Park Gerald’s own study of mental health hospital patients. * Explain how sociologists differ from biological theorist in their explanation of crime. * Describe and evaluate the social bond theory.

* Discuss the social learning theory and state
* Explain how it helps the social control agencies like the police in controlling crime in contemporary Britain. * Evaluate the strain theory and include the 5 ways in which people respond to the pressure of success in life. * Explain how innovation is linked to the 2011 UK summer riots. * Discuss the labelling theory and explain the how the media is responsible for creating moral panics.

The purpose of this essay is to describe and evaluate Biological, Psychological and Labelling theories. Criminological concepts relevant to these theories will be included, as well as the analysis of areas where there is a disagreement between the theories in terms of the question “why do people commit crime”? A biological theory of crime proposes that physical attributes can lead an individual to criminal activities. In his publication L’Uomo Deliquente 1876, Cesare Lombroso studied the appearance and physical characteristics of Italian convicted criminals. He believed he had found evidence that a criminal brain was different from a non-criminal. He claimed that this was clearly displayed in the shape of the criminal’s face, and concluded that the criminals displayed signs of atavism (primitive features inherited from earlier stage of human development [Newburn, 2007:122-3]. Lombroso’s findings signalled the beginning of criminal profiling, as this inspired investigators to analyse a crime scene to declare exactly what kind of person the police should be looking for. Some of his recordings were that murderers had bloodshot eyes and curly hair, while sex offenders had thick lips and protruding ears [Kirby et al, 2000:586 ]. From a social point of view, this theory would imply that those born-criminal are easy to identify and can be locked up before committing a crime. These findings have also been deemed absurd and discredited because of the following reasons; his sample was unrepresentative as he did not use non-criminal control groups to establish whether atavistic features he identified were confined to the criminal population; the physical characteristics he identified may simply reflect the fact that the inmates were drawn from the poorest section of Italian society. Therefore such factors as their height or stunted growth may be as a result of poverty rather than being symbols of criminality; the theory overlooks the bright and handsome criminals [preservearticles.com what-are-the-biological-theories-of-crime]. This type of theorising neglects the idea that there is a "grey area" of criminality - people who commit crimes but are not caught and therefore not imprisoned. Police recorded crime shows 6,468,000 cases in the United Kingdom in 2002/03. However, police recorded crime statistics are limited and do not represent the total volume of crime, because of the amount of crime that never comes to the police’s attention, referred to as ‘the dark figure’ of unrecorded crime. Langley, Pilkington and Richardson [2007:10] cite Simmons & Dodd who states that over 30% of offences reported to the police in 2003/03 were not recorded. Charles Goring, an English psychiatrist and...

Bibliography: Giddens, A. (2006) Sociology. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Haralambos, M. Holborn, M. (2007) Sociology Themes and Perspectives. 7th edn. Hammersmith, London: Collins.
Langley, P. Pilkington, A. & Richardson, J (2007) Sociology in Focus A2 Level. Causeway Press.
Newburn, T. (2007) Criminology. Devon: William Publishing
Anon. (2011) Biological Theories of Crime [ Online]. Available at: http://www.preservearticles.com/2012050131523/what-are-the-biological-theories-of-crime.html. [Accessed on 20 April 2013].
Skynews (2012) Riots to comes back [Online]. Available at: http://news.sky.com/story/968285/summer-riots-could-be-repeated-survey-warns [ Accessed on 8 May 2013]
Birmingham Mail (2011) Car crime hotspots revealed [online]
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