Criminology Definitions : 657230


  1. Critically discuss the claim that criminology ‘has always been wholly utilitarian: an elaborate alibi to justify the exercise of power’.


  1. Definitions of serious crime are essentially ideological constructs’. Discuss.


  1. Critically assess the influence of the political economy perspective in criminological theorising and in explaining patterns and trends in crime and crime control.


  1. Using the appropriate literature critically discuss the impact of the feminist critique on the criminological project.


  1. Critically discuss contemporary examples of racism and discrimination in crime control practices by engaging with the relevant literature.


  1. ‘Young people are troublesome rather than troubled’. Discuss.


  1. In corporations, ‘criminal behaviour is learnt in association with those who define such behaviour favourably and in isolation from those who define it unfavourably’. Discuss.



Departmental Marking Criteria PGT Marking Criteria


The pass mark for all modules of the Masters degree is 50, but the marking scale for each individual item of assessed work is as follows:


Distinction level, 70 plus  Merit level, 60 – 69  Pass, 50 – 59  Fail (but in some circumstances may be condoned*) 40 – 49  Fail, 0 – 39


Refer to the rules of assessment for further details.


The marking criteria for postgraduate programmes draw upon minimum criteria, which are applicable to the assessment of most or all assignments:


 understanding of the subject;   utilisation of proper academic [or other] style (e.g., citation of reference);   relevance of material selected and of the arguments proposed;   planning and organisation;   logical coherence;   critical evaluation;   comprehensiveness of research;   evidence of synthesis;   innovation / creativity / originality.


The language used must be of a sufficient standard to permit assessment of the above criteria.


The guidelines below reflect the standards of work expected at postgraduate level. The different levels set out are for each item that is assessed.


70% and above (distinction level):


 shows strong evidence of wide and relevant reading and a critical engagement with the conceptual issues;   develops a sophisticated and intelligent argument;   shows a rigorous use and a sophisticated understanding of relevant materials, balancing appropriately between factual detail and key theoretical issues. Materials are evaluated directly and their assumptions and arguments challenged and/or appraised;   shows an original/creative contribution and a willingness to take risks;   shows excellent analytic skills.



60-69% (merit level):  shows sound evidence of critical insight and critical thinking;   shows a detailed understanding of the major factual and/or theoretical issues and directly engages with the relevant literature on the topic;   develops a focused and clear argument and articulates clearly and convincingly a sustained train of logical thought;


 shows clear evidence of planning and appropriate choice of sources and methodology.


50-59% (pass):


 shows a reasonable understanding of the major factual and/or theoretical issues involved;   shows evidence of planning and selection from appropriate sources;   demonstrates some knowledge of the literature;   the text shows, in places, examples of a clear train of thought or argument;   the text is introduced and concludes appropriately.


40-49% (fail but in some circumstances may be condoned):


 shows some awareness and understanding of the factual or theoretical issues, but with little development;   misunderstandings are evident;   shows some evidence of planning, although irrelevant/unrelated material or arguments are included.

0-39 % (fail):

 fails to answer the question or to develop an argument that relates to the question set;   does not engage with the relevant literature or demonstrate a knowledge of the key issues;   contains clear conceptual or factual errors or misunderstandings.



There is a general agreement to the fact that any form of discrimination towards race or ethnicity violates the principle of equality are morally incorrect. According to the principles of equality, those who are equal should be treated equally based on the level of similarity and race must not be an element to access such similarities (Feltham, 2009). Therefore, morally people can be treated differently if there is a factual difference but not based on traits like sex, race, religion or disability. The term equality is non-specific which means that it has no meaning until it has been applied. One of the fundamental elements of a fair and just criminal justice system is equality. Discrimination is a term contrary to equality and therefore where discrimination is present the principles of criminal justice cannot be established (Feltham, 2009). This means that people possessing a certain trait would be treated less favourably as compared to others who do not possess such traits (Siegel and Worrall,2013).

According to Kivel (2017), race depicts a group of people who are reasonably alike in biological inheritance and can be distinguished from other groups of the same basis, where people are discriminated based on race it results in racism. The presence of racism in the criminal justice system has been argued by people of the minority groups since the 19th century. According to the argument, Afro-Americans have been subjected to significant unjust and detrimental treatment when it comes to criminal justice. There is a perception that a lack of uniformity exists in prosecutorial decision-making regarding criminal cases involving minority persons and the criminal justice system provides inadequate protection, access, support, and services to minority victims of crime. Likewise, research has consistently shown that legal factors such as offence seriousness, evidentiary strength, offending history, the direct context of decision making, victim charging preferences, as well as extra-legal factors such as socioeconomic status account for most (but not all) of the variation between different ethnic groups(Cunneen 2006; Blagg et al 2005; Bowling, Phillips and Shah 2003).

The purpose of this paper is the critically discuss contemporary examples of racism and discrimination in crime control practices by engaging with the relevant literature. The paper compares and contrasts various journal articles about discrimination and racism in the criminal justice system to come to an appropriate conclusion.

According to a highly critical report prepared by MP David Lammy as requested by the prime minister, the prosecution of some minority-ethnic and black suspects should be dropped or deferred to tackle discrimination against them in the criminal justice system of England and Wales (Dodd and Bowcott 2017).  In addition, it had been suggested by the report that the young defendants’ criminal records and immaturity have to be sealed to provide support to former criminals to find work as the statistics of discrimination in the UK is worse than the US in certain cases (Dodd and Bowcott, 2017). In his report, it had been stated by the MP that minority-ethnic and black individuals are still subjected to Bias in the country which includes overt discrimination in the criminal justice system. The facts which have been argued by people having a minority background for decades with respect to discrimination in the system have been supported by this report (Dodd and Bowcott 2017).

In England and Wales, the population of black people is only 3% whereas they make a 12% part of the prison. There is a “greater disproportionality” in their number in prison as in E&W as compared to that of US. In the America, the percentage of black people in the population is 13% whereas their presence in the prisons is 35% (Dodd and Bowcott 2017).  Pakes (2014) indicated that the rate of overt racial discrimination in the criminal justice system is declining. However, as highlighted by Jee-Lyn García and Sharif (2015) the level of discrimination because of a person belonging to a particular race is still significantly high in prisons as well as perceiving them as criminals. Where an argument is provided that there is a considerable decline in the practice of racism and discrimination in the criminal justice system, there must be some kind of policies and procedures in place which has triggered the decline. In this context, it has been stated by Kappeler and Potter (2017) that the criminal justice system in the countries like UK and US do not have any considerable and express policy or regulation to combat discrimination in the criminal justice system. In the UK the Equality Act 2010 is present which has the objective of eliminating discrimination. However, the provisions of the legislation are practically only applicable in workplace relations between the employee and the employer (Equality Act 2010).

An argument has been raised by Johnson, Farrell and Warren (2015) that equality cannot be restored in the criminal justice system where no right or proper opportunity is provided to the inmates to escalate any issue which is contrary to basic human rights. Although the issue is not directly related to issue of racial discrimination in hand, it can be derived that where such fundamental rights are not provided there would not be any scope for those who are discriminated against. However, statistics depict that the level of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has declined from where it was in the last decade due to the interventions of Human Rights Commissions and other NGOs. These organisations have been working hard to give rights to people who belong to the minority races which they are deprived by other government bodies. However, Rudin (2016) argues that there is no substantial evidence to verify the authenticity of such statistics as most of the cases of racism and discrimination in the criminal justice system go unreported. This is because there are no platforms which have been provided to such groups through which they can raise their voice against injustice. As the guards of justice such as the police themselves indulge in discriminative actions, there is no upfront representation of who such concerns can be raised by the victims.

The figures which are depicted by statistics are mainly those who have somehow got highlighted, and the organisations have backed them towards attaining justice. There is a certain perception among the law enforcement that the people of minority groups are criminals. For instance, they are referred to as “gang” rather than a group and therefore always perceived as criminals. Official figures released by the Scotland yard depicted that the metropolitan police involved in excessive use of force towards a large number of black people in London between May and July 2015 (Dodd and Bowcott 2017). However, the proposal made by MP David Lammy has been criticised highly by the public. According to Worrall (2014) rather than ethnic communities, the British law enforcement is bias against the indigenous communities, and they take the ethnic communities lightly for the sake of political correctness. For instance, at Rotherham and few other towns, young girls have been groomed by Asian gangs and people do not do any interventions as they are scared to be called racists. Indigenous people, in their own land, have been reduced to second-class citizens and probably more deteriorated status if they are wearing a uniform, are white and male. However, it may also be argued that it is normal for white gangs to exploit and groom Asian and Young girls and when it is done by ethnic minorities it is termed as exploitation. In reality, political interest highlights such issues, and when it becomes a matter of public debate, it is used by politicians to achieve their own interest.

Any person would not be surprised if it is conveyed to him or her that the UK or US crime prevention system is racially biased. An argument has been provided by Saperstein, Penner and Kizer (2014) according to which whether the system is biased or not is based on perceptions. Those who are white perceive that more black or Asian people end up in jail because they committed more crimes, their culture is such that they are made to indulge in criminal activities. On the other hand, an according to those who are Black or Asian, they end up in jail more because they are targeted by the law enforcement, they are perceived as criminal rather than ordinary citizens of the society (Kentish 2017).

According to Dodd (2017), the process of stop and search is eight times more likely to be targeted at the black people. The crime control system is going backwards as racial disparity is growing even where overall stop and search programs have declined. The statistics on the whole stop and search programs have depicted a decline of 21% which is below 304000 incidents in England and Wales (Dodd and Bowcott 2017). However, where the stop and search on white people declined by 18%, the drop on minority ethnic people was only 11%. Other than the black people different ethnic groups were found four times more likely to be stopped and searched as compared to the white British citizens. Therefore, it is clear that in the country there are different policing standards for diverse communities. The system is inherently unfair, and through such statistics, it can be depicted that the system is actually going backwards. 17% of the stops on ethnic committees have resulted in an arrest which is 1% higher than the previous years (Dodd and Bowcott 2017).

It has been stated by Amber Rudd, the home secretary that the statistics provide that the stop and search reforms are actually working. There has been in arise in the stop-to-arrest rate, and it is to its summit once again. The new data on the reforms depicts that 75% of the stop and search programs have led to some action taken by the police (Dodd and Bowcott 2017). However, this does not justify the process where a person is stopped because of his or her ethnicity or race. The onus is put on the chief constables to explain the case of disparity in the areas where they operate in order to ensure that the program is used efficiently or else it would result in a counterproductive situation which would decrease the confidence in policing. The metropolitan police which operates in London are the maximum use of the stop and search powers (Presstv,2017). In every 1000 people, 16 people have been stopped and searched in the area. The rise in the level of violent crime makes the police to indulge in more stop and search initiatives ( 2017). The greater uses can be supported in case it is deemed necessary for the police to do so to prevent crime. However high concern still exists concerning racial disproportionality in the stop and search process. The matter has an adverse effect on community relations where the black Britons lose their trust and confidence in the police.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people as discussed above are more likely to be stopped and searched than those who are white. The disparity is different in types of stop and search powers. In 2011 it was found that the metropolitan police used the stop and search powers 28 times more likely on black people as compared to the white people (Crime and Justice, 2017).  The contemporary statistics depict a letter-number which is only eight times. However, these numbers should have decreased more in the light of the overall drop in the use of stop and search powers.

In England and Wales by the end of 31st March 2016, there have been 1.04 million arrests made by the police. As compared to the last year there has been a decrease of 3% in the rate of arrest. In the arrest was of white people, 8% of those who are black and 65 of Asian (Dodd and Bowcott 2017). However, there has been a 25% arrest of Asian or black people out of all arrests by regional forces like the Metropolitan Police.  In 2016 black people were three times more likely to be arrested by the police as compared to white Britons whereas those who belonged to a mixed ethnic group were twice as likely to be arrested by police as compared to the white Britons. In addition, the doctrine of Joint Enterprise as provided by Joint Enterprise – Not Guilty by Association (JENGbA) through which people can be arrested where they have not been directly indulged in a criminal act but have encouraged it, is being used disproportionately against people of minority communities. 80% Out of the 500 prisoners with whom JENGbA is engaged are from such minority communities ( 2017).

According to Matthews and Young (2013), black and Asian people who have been alleged of an indictable offence are more likely to be provided immediate custody as compared to the white people. In 2016 where 30% black and 32% Asian people were put in immediate custody as compared to 25% of the white Britons. In relation to driving offences, the black offenders were more likely to be sentenced to jail by 44% as compared to white people. Also concerning public order offences 38% and relation to possession of weapon 27% of black people were more likely to be provided sentences as compared to white people (Andrews,2017). In addition, Asians were 19% more likely to be given convictions for shoplifting and for drug offences 41% as compared to white people. These figures clearly depict that there is a culture of discrimination in the criminal justice system of UK and specifically within the crime prevention agencies. This is because where the same offices have been committed more percentage of sentencing to specific ethnic groups as compared to others. Therefore the theory that black people are put in jail more as compared to the white people only based on the fact that they commit more crime is clearly nullified and discrimination in the system is apparently present.

In the prison systems, the number of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people are significantly overrepresented as 20% of the overall prison population is occupied by them ( 2017). Where the number of black Britons in UK prisons was 10% were they constituted only 3% of the total population in 2014 the number increased to 13% in 2017 while their population is remaining constant ( 2017). The Equality and Human Rights Commission expressly stated that “there is greater disproportionality in the number of black people in prisons in the UK than in the United States” (Dodd and Bowcott 2017). These statistics strongly support the argument that the criminal justice system in the UK about racism and discrimination is actually going backwards.

There is a serious concern in relation to the fact that how can the problem of racism in the country be addressed. The enactment of policies and procedures to prevent discrimination and racism in the criminal justice system cannot be successful unless the mindset of the people towards racism is changed and they realise that it is severely detrimental to the modern-day society. The police officers and the judges who have the duty to promote equality and prevent racism either knowingly or unconsciously indulge in racism and discrimination. Therefore, it is not possible to implement the policies until the perception of the people changes (Burch, 2015). However, it can be argued that the system requires robust and transparent policies which are in favour of such ethnic groups. These policies may include positive discrimination towards them to enhance their present situation in the criminal justice system. In relation to such argument, there is a clear and definite argument that such policies may increase the rate of crime and the with people would develop a sense of hatred towards the other groups. In the post Brexit period, there has been a significant increase in crime where violence has been triggered towards minority ethnic group and where positive discrimination is introduced it may fuel such violence to an uncontrollable extent (Lyn, García and Sharif, 2015).

MP David Lammy has recently suggested that black people and other minorities must not be prosecuted by the crime prevention agencies if it is found that they are “immature” or stupid as the criminal justice system of UK is discriminatory, racist and biased against blacks and other minority ethnic groups. The statement made by the MP had initiated a significant controversy in the country where people are wondering how such comments can be made by an MP (The Times,2017). However when the statement is analysed in the light of the overall concept it may not sound as amazing as it does prima faice, Germany already has a system in place where the maturity of young offenders is accessed before they are prosecuted rather than an inflexible system where the mature and immature is decided on the basis of whether the person is 18 or not in England and Wales (Times 2017). The system in Germany allows a less punitive juvenile law which is applied on young adults in case “moral and psychological development” of the accused depicts that he or she is “like a juvenile” or is immature (Goldson and Muncie,2015). However, if such system has to be applied than it has to be applied to everyone, which means all young adults and not specifically those who belong to a specific community. Also, the system may be misused by young adults where they may try to manipulate their maturity just in the way it is arguably done in the juvenile justice system.

From the above discuss statistics and facts it can be clearly stated that racism and discrimination are present in crime controlling practices in the UK. The paper depicts that criminal justice favor the rich and powerful over the minority. The crime committed by the powerful never reaches the court and when it does they are released by payment of fines.  Racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system is a fact. But the fact of racial disproportionality is the beginning and not the end of the conversation. The fact that blacks are overrepresented in stop, arrest, charge, pretrial detention, conviction, and incarceration statistics demonstrates only correlation and not causation

When it comes to arrests, stop and search, sentencing and treatment in prison, people who belong to minority ethnic groups are subjected to a less favourable treatment than those who are white. There are no significant policies and procedures in place which may allow addressing the re-emerging concern of racism in the system. However, different groups of people perceive racism differently based on the theory of perception. Whites perceive that too much of liberty is provided to the blacks and Asians as they get away with crime because people are afraid to interfere in fear of being called racists. On the other hand, it is perceived by the black and Asian people that they are unfairly targeted by the crime controlling agencies. Politicians utilise such difference in perceptions to trigger their own political interest. However, from evidence discussed in the paper, it can be stated that black and minority ethnic committees are unfairly targeted by the crime prevention agencies and the criminal justice system in the UK goes back to the days of racism and discrimination.




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