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Gender and Crime: Sex-Role Theory

Sex Role Theory explains gendered differences in offending in terms of the differences in gender socialization, gender roles and gendered identities. The norms and values associated with traditional femininity are not conducive to crime, while the norms and values associated with traditional masculinity are more likely to lead to crime.

  1. Female socialization, traditional female roles and low female crime rates

Parsons (1937) argued that because females carry out the ‘expressive role’ in the family which involved them caring for their children and looking after the emotional needs of their husbands, that girls grew up to internalise such values as caring and empathy, both of which reduce the likelihood of someone committing crime simply because a caring and empathetic attitude towards others means you are less likely to harm others.

The child caring role also means that women are also effectively more attached to their families and wider communities than men – It is traditionally women who keep in touch with relatives and get to know their children’s friends families and thus bond local communities together. In terms of bonds of attachment theory, women are thus more attached to wider society and thus less likely to commit crime.

Similarly, because traditional female gender roles involve women being busier than men, especially since they have taken on the ‘dual burden’ and ‘triple shift’ in recent decades, this reduces the opportunities for women to commit crime.

Masculinity and the high male crime rate – See this link and this link for more info

It has long been theorized that the early socialization of boys into traditional masculine identities is at least partly responsible for the higher male crime rate. Sociologist Sutherland (1960) stated this very simply by saying that ‘boys are taught to be “rough and tough,” which makes them more likely to become delinquent’. Talcott Parsons (1964) purported that masculinity was then internalized during adolescence, which led to boys engaging in more delinquent behavior than girls, and sub cultural theorists Cloward and Ohlin (1960) proposed that in gangs, younger members learn through contact with older males that traits such as toughness and dominance are necessary in order to assert a strong masculine reputation.

One possible criticism of sex-role theory is that it is less relevant in today’s society because of the decline of traditional gender roles.

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Save Sheffield’s Trees – A Case Study in Green Crime and Green Criminology

Amey, a private company, contracted by Sheffield council to maintain roads and pavements has chopped down 4000 trees in Sheffield in recent years.

Some of these trees were a hundred years old, and there was absolutely nothing wrong them; the main reason for chopping them down seems to be economic – it’s cheaper to maintain roads in the long-term without the roots of old trees pushing up paving slabs and road surfaces.

(NB – The council claimed the reason for chopping down the trees is that they were diseased, but this appears to have been a lie, with experts having confirmed that there was nothing wrong with 75% of them.)

Chopping down trees is good for the company and council because it saves them both money, but it does at least the following harms –

  • It reduces the property values of local residents (think about it – semi-detached houses, tree lined streets, these are desirable areas to live).
  • It reduces the quality of life for everyone in the city – basically just look nice for everyone walking around the city.
  • It kills the trees, which are living organisms after all.
  • Trees contribute to flood alleviation and reduce pollution, so chopping them down does further environmental damage beyond just killing the trees themselves.

However, despite these harms, chopping down these trees is not a criminal act. Under the terms of the PFI contract with Sheffield council – chopping down these trees is totally legal*, so the company doing this is breaking no law, and thus will suffer no criminal prosecution.

In fact, the law actually sides against the handful of people who have protested against these trees being cut down. Some protesters (including two 70 year old women) who tried to disrupt a 5.00 a.m. dawn tree-chopping raid in one street were arrested and held in jail for 8 hours, and face up to 6 months in jail for their actions.

While existing law treats as criminal those few people who are protecting the trees, according to Green Criminologists the real criminals are the company and the council who are committing a ‘crime against the environment’, even though technically under UK law they are not actually doing anything criminal, because the council owns the trees are on council property – the pavements.

According to Green Criminologists this case study represents the limitations of existing laws designed to protect the environment -basically existing laws are too anthropocentric (human centered) and fail to adequately protect the environment; it also points to the limitations of traditional criminology – which would limit itself to focusing on the protesters, rather than the company and council who are the ‘real criminals’ for harming the environment.

(*at least one assumes this must be the case, because even thought public money is being spent here, the public has no right to see details of PFI contracts)



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Analyse two criticisms of the theory that police racism is the main factor which explains the higher imprisonment rates of ethnic minorities

This could form the basis of a 10 mark question in the crime and deviance paper, in which case, you would have an item, which will direct you to two of the reasons mentioned below, which you must use if they are in the itme to get 10/10!

A mark scheme and some suggested answers to the above question*


  • Answers in this band will show good knowledge and understanding of relevant material on two reasons.
  • There will be two developed applications of material from the item
  • There will be appropriate analysis/evaluation of two reasons.

To get into this mark band you need to identify one reason, develop it, analyse it (so three good sentences of development/ analysis) and then repeat this for your second reason.

4- 7

  • Answers in this band will show a basic to reasonable knowledge and understanding.
  • There will be some successful application of material from the item.
  • There will be some analysis/evaluation

This means you’ve identified, developed and analysed one reason well, but not effectively developed or analysed the second reason.


  • Answers in this band will show limited knowledge of one or two reasons
  • There will be limited application of material from the item.
  • There will be limited or no analysis/evaluation.

You shouldn’t be down here.

Possible Criticisms

These could form the basis of any one of your two points. 

  • Underlying patterns of offending are different…
  • The characteristics of offenders are different….
  • It’s the public that’s racist, the police just respond….
  • Racism is subjective, thus difficult to define
  • Racism is difficult to research in practice.

Example which should get you 5/10

Repeat with one of the other reasons to get 10/10

The first reason why it is doubtful that police racism explains the higher imprisonment rates of ethnic minorities is that there is some evidence that ethnic minorities might commit more crime.

Development  For example, many ethnic minority groups experience higher levels of relative deprivation and marginalisation (applying left realism) which could explain actual underlying higher levels of offending.

Analysis Thus it might be these factors related to class and deprivation which explains the higher levels of policing and stop and search (and corresponding imprisonment) in minority areas rather than police racism. The police are not necessarily racist – they are just responding in an objective, rather than a racist way to really existing high crime rates in poorer areas, where ethnic minorities are more likely to live.

*Answers not endorsed by the AQA. These are my best guesses as to a safe minimum for getting full marks. NB –  You may as well go with my best guess as the exemplars produced by the AQA don’t necessarily reflect the standards they mark to anyway. 

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Sociology in the News – Focus on Education

A couple of interesting items in the news this week about the pros and cons of strict systems of education.

This article from the Daily Mail outlines the strict social-control policies at the The Michaela Community School (a free school) in a deprived area of  north west London where pupils, on average, are doing twice as well as those in other comprehensives.

Policies include such things as children not being allowed to talk in lessons, having to walk single file in lessons and being required to do 90 minutes of homework a night.

The school models itself on the strict Tiger Parenting style adopted by Amy Chua, with teachers having extremely high expectations and having a zero tolerance approach to dissent. Parents also have to sign a detailed contract agreeing to support the school ethos.

Interestingly, selection is by lottery, and the school is oversubscribed, although liberal middle class parents are less likely to agree with the educational style.

This seems to show how a strict school ethos can really make a difference for kids from deprived backgrounds, and it also shows the advantages of Free Schools – if done well – as the methods used go against current teaching practices – but more than half of the teachers at this school aren’t qualified, as Free Schools are allowed to hire UQTs.
A second article from The Guardian outlines the centrality of educational achievement and success in South Korea>

South Korea fell silent on Thursday as more than 600,000 students sat the annual college entrance exam, which could define their future in the ultra-competitive country. Success in the exam – which teenage South Koreans spend years preparing for – means a place in one of the elite colleges seen as key to a future career and even marriage prospects.

The government put in place some extraordinary measures to ensure students could focus on the examination:

  • Government offices, major businesses and even Seoul’s stock market opened at 10am, an hour later than usual, so as to clear the roads so that students could get to the exams on time.
  • Transport authorities halted all airport landings and take-offs for 30 minutes in the afternoon to coincide with the main language listening test.
  • Work at many construction sites was suspended and large trucks were banned from the roads near test venues

The pressure to score well in the exam has been blamed for teenage depression and suicide rates that are among the highest in the world.

To bring the two items together – maybe what makes the strictness the Michaela Community School so appealing is that it can enable students to get ahead of their peers in a more liberal education system, but if every school and family adopted this tiger-education approach, we’d just end up with more miserable and suicidal kids in the long run as everyone just spends more and more time trying to get ahead of each other.

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Ethnicity and Crime: Short Answer Exam Questions and Answers

This post contains two examples of possible 4/6 mark ‘outline and explain’ questions which may come up on the AQA’s Crime and Deviance Paper 3.

Outline two structural factors which may explain differences in offending by ethnicity (4)

Two marks for each of two appropriate reasons clearly outlined or one mark for appropriate reasons partially outlined

  • The higher rates of single parent families in African-Caribbean households (1 mark) this might explain the higher levels of crime because absent fathers mean lack of a disciplinary figure and the fact that children from Caribbean households are more likely to join gangs (+1 mark)
  • Blocked opportunities in the education system for African-Caribbean children (1 mark) which means lower educational achievement, and a higher chance of being unemployed, which is correlated with higher levels of economic crime (+1 mark)
  • Institutional racism in the police force (1 mark) higher rates of ethnic minority crime may be a frustrated response against police oppression, as with the London riots (+1 mark)

Outline three ways in which Racism may manifest itself in the criminal justice system (6)

Two marks for each of two appropriate reasons clearly outlined or one mark for appropriate reasons partially outlined. The following would get 1 mark each, you need to add in the +1s

  • The police stop disproportionate amounts of black and Asian people (1 mark)
  • Black suspects are more likely to be sent to jail than white people (1 mark)
  • Ethnic minorities are more likely to have their cases thrown out of court than white people (1 mark)
  • Black and minority officers are under-represented (1 mark)
  • There is a ‘canteen culture’ of Racism in the UK police force (1 mark)
  • The police force fail to take race crimes against ethnic minorities seriously (1 mark)

Related Posts

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Racism in the British Criminal Justice System – Selected Evidence

Unfortunately, there is a considerable amount of evidence suggesting a long history of institutional racism within the Criminal Justice System. Below we are going to look at the short version, starting with the case study of Stephen Lawrence…  

 The list of evidence is long, but there are limitations with this evidence, and alternative ways in which it might be interpreted; you should also be able to draw on other pieces of evidence which we’ve looked at in other parts of the course which point to a broader range of factors besides police racism which explain the disproportionately high numbers of Black and Asian people being processed through the criminal justice system.


1993: The Stephen Lawrence Case and the Macpherson Enquiry (1993/1999)
In this case a gang of white youths stabbed African Caribbean teenager Stephen Lawrence to death after shouting racist abuse at him. Despite substantial evidence against the youths, the police failed to mount a successful prosecution and no one was convicted of the murder. Following sustained pressure by Lawrence’s mother, the

The Macpherson enquiry was established to look into why and six years after Lawrence’s murder in 1999 it found that the Metropolitan police were institutionally racist.

The report defined institutional racism as ‘the collective failure of an organisation to provide and appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can been seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour that amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping and which disadvantage minority ethnic peoples’.

Note the following quote by John Mewing, chief constable for Derbyshire who admitted during this enquiry: “In the police service there is a distinct tendency for officers to stereotype people. Discrimination and unfairness are a result. I know because as a young police officer, I was guilty of such behaviour”


Disproportionate and Discriminatory: Reviewing the Evidence on Police Stop and Sear

Bowling and Phillips (2007) (link)

Although ten years old, this is one of the major pieces of research to have reviewed police prejudice since Stephen Lawrence – Phillips and Bowling are two names you should know in relation to this topic. Below is an extract to give you an idea of how strongly they talk about the existence of police racism…This is a piece of secondary research, and is a review of all available work done into Police Racism in the UK up until 2007.

Research evidence over the past three decades has found that specific stereotypes are commonly used by police officers to classify people on the basis of their ethnic origin. Studies found that black people were believed to be prone to violent crime and drug abuse, incomprehensible, suspicious, hard to handle, naturally excitable, aggressive, lacking brainpower, troublesome and ‘tooled up’.

These findings on racial prejudice and stereotyping have not been restricted to constables, but have been found throughout the ranks. Robert Reiner’s study of Chief Constables found that race was spontaneously mentioned more often than any other social division and was frequently brought up in other contexts.

Although some chiefs discussed ethnicity without invoking negative stereotypes, most spoke prejudicially. The predominant view was to regard the presence of black people as problematic for the police.

They tended to be seen as crime-prone, disorderly, argumentative, irrational, ‘likely to be carrying drugs or dangerous implements, noisy, and responsible for the antipathy held towards them’

Research in the 1990s suggested that overt targeting was ongoing; though police officers were more reluctant to admit it.

A Home Office funded study conducted by Janet Foster and colleagues found that explicit racist language was no longer tolerated and reached the view that it is gradually disappearing. Feeling under greater scrutiny after the Lawrence Inquiry, the authors argued that, in general, officers felt less able to carry out unjustified stop and search or ‘fishing trips’ without proper grounds for searching. However, the authors point to the possibility that racist attitudes and behaviour may simply have gone ‘underground’.

Although the links are complex, racially prejudiced attitudes do affect the way in which people behave. Hall et al argue that while there is no automatic or straightforward link between racially prejudiced attitudes and language and discriminatory or differential behaviour . . . there is a consistency in the pervasive nature and expression of racial stereotypes and their influence on police expectations and behaviours.

There is clear evidence that police officers routinely use skin colour as a criterion for ‘stop and search’ based on stereotyping and over-generalisations about the involvement of black people in crime. Evidence of this was apparent even when being observed by Home Office researchers. Furthermore, the use of colour as a criterion is particularly marked in relation to ‘stop and search’ for drug offences.


2011 –  Court room observations of sentencing following the London Riots
Lee Jasper argues that in this instance, there was clear evidence of racial bias in sentencing. A summary of his blog post

The London riots have attracted exceptional media and political coverage, but as the rebuilding work gets underway and the media coverage dies down… the rancid stench of judicial racism begins to fill the air.

I have witnessed this first hand having spent three days at inner London Crown Court observing case after case being tried in the immediate aftermath of the riots. What I saw shocked me to the core: it reminded me of the chaotic ad hoc justice of the Wild West. Black offenders rights were dismissed, bail applications routinely refused for first time offenders and disproportionate sentences handed out down by an almost all white judiciary. It was carnage.

The Guardian reports that “the difference in racial sentencing between courts was considerable. Haringey magistrates court, which dealt with many of the Tottenham riot cases, sentenced – before the summer disturbances – 11 of the 54 black defendants it dealt with for public disorder or weapons offences to prison, as compared to 5 of 73 white defendants. While West London magistrates court sentenced 17 of 107 black defendants to jail, versus 21 of 237 who were white – meaning at that court black defendants were 79% more likely to be jailed.”



2013 – A review of Stop and Search stats by The Equality and Human Rights Commission has argued that the Police use their powers disproportionately…
According to this BBC summary (2013) The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said in some areas black people were 29 times more likely to be stopped and searched. The commission said the disproportion between different ethnic groups remained “stubbornly high”.

The highest “disproportionality” ratios were found in the following places:

·         In Dorset black people were 11.7 times more likely than white people to be stopped

·         In West Mercia, Asian people were 3.4 times more likely than white people to be stopped

·         In Warwickshire, people of mixed race were 4.4 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched.

The report also looked at the use of Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act under which police can stop and search someone for weapons, without suspicion that the individual is involved in wrongdoing, providing that a senior officer has a reasonable belief that violence had or is about to occur.

Under section 60, In the West Midlands, black people were 29 times more likely than white people to be targeted and Asian people were six times more likely than white people to be targeted

EHRC chief executive Mark Hammond said “the overall disproportionality in the use of the powers against black, Asian and mixed race people remains stubbornly high.”

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Criminal Justice, Ethnicity and Racism

Both Paul Gilroy and Stuart Hall argue that crime statistics are socially constructed and these statistics do not reflect underlying differences in crime rates. They argue instead that the variations in stop and search and imprisonment rates by ethnicity are mostly explained by differences in stop and search rates of ethnic groups which means a higher proportion of black and Asian criminals are caught and prosecuted compared to white criminals

Look at the statistical evidence below, to what extent does the evidence support Gilroy’s and Hall’s views?

Self-report studies

Self-report studies ask people to disclose details of crimes they committed but not necessarily been caught doing or convicted of. Graham and Bowling (1995) Found that blacks (43%) and whites (44%) had similar and almost identical rates of crime, but Asians actually had lower rates (Indians- 30%, Pakistanis-28% and Bangladeshi-13%).

Sharp and Budd (2005) noted that the 2003 offending, crime and justice survey of 12,000 people found that whites and mixed ethnicity were more likely to say they had committed a crime, followed by blacks (28%) and Asians (21%).

Victim surveys

The British Crime Survey indicated that 44 per cent of victims were able to say something about the offender who was involved in offences against them. Among these, 85 per cent of offenders were said by victims to be ‘white’, 5 per cent ‘black’, 3 per cent ‘Asian’ and 4 per cent ‘mixed’. However, these stats are only for the minority of ‘contact’ offences and very few people have any idea who was involved in the most common offences such as vehicle crime and burglary. Therefore, in the vast majority of offences no reliable information is available from victims about the ethnicity of the criminal.

Prosecution and trial

The Crown Prosecution service (CPS) is responsible for deciding whether a crime or arrest should be prosecuted in court. They base it on whether there is any real chance of the prosecution succeeding and whether it is better for the public that they are prosecuted.

Ethnic minority cases are more likely to be dropped than whites, and blacks and Asians are less likely to be found guilty than whites. Bowling and Phillips (2002) argue that this is because there is never enough evidence to prosecute as it is mainly based on racist stereotyping. In 2006/7 60% of whites were found guilty, against only 52% of blacks, and 44% of Asians.

When cases go ahead members of ethnic minorities are more likely to elect for Crown Court trail rather than magistrates (even through Crown Courts can hand out more severe punishments), potentially because of a mistrust of magistrates.

Sentencing and prison

Jail sentences are more likely to be given to Blacks (68%) compared to Whites (55%) or Asians (59%), whereas Whites and Asians were more likely to receive community services. But this could be due to the seriousness of some ones offence of previous convictions.

Hood (1992) found that even when the seriousness of an offence and previous convictions were taken into account Black men were 5x more likely to be jailed and given a sentence which is 3 months (Asians 9 months) longer than whites.

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Ethnicity and Crime: Paul Gilroy’s ‘Anti-Racist Theory’

Below I summarise pp52-3 of Collins’ Sociology AQA A-Level Year 2 Student Book (Chapman, Holborn, Moore and Aiken.) This is their take on what they call ‘Paul Gilroy’s Anti Racist Theory of Crime’ – Interestingly Prof. Gilroy commented on the post saying this is a shallow, oversimplified travesty of what he wrote.

Gilroy’s Anti-Racist Theory of Crime 

Gilroy describes a ‘myth of black criminality’ and attributed statistical differences in recorded criminality between ethnic groups as being due to police stereotyping and racist labelling .

Gilroy also argued that crime amongst Black British ethnic groups was a legacy of the struggle against White dominance in former colonies such as Jamaica. When early migrants came to Britain they faced discrimination and hostility, and drew upon the tradition of anticolonial struggle to develop cultures of resistance against White-dominated authorities and police forces.

While Left Realists such as Lea and Young argued that ome criminal acts such as rioting could involve protest against marginalisation, but Paul Gilroy goes much further, seeing most crime by Black ethnic groups as essentially political and as part of the general resistance to White Rule.

Evaluations of Gilroy’s Anti-Racism Theory

This theory is criticised by Lea and Young (1984) on several grounds:

– First generation immigrants were actually very law-abiding citizens and as such did not resist against the colony of Britain and were less likely to pass this anti-colonial stance to their kids.
– Most crime is against other people of the same ethnic group and so cannot be seen as resistance to racism.
– Like critical criminologists, Lea and Young criticise Gilroy for romanticising the criminals as somehow revolutionary.
– Asian crimes rates are similar or lower than whites, which would mean the police were only racist towards blacks, which is unlikely.
– Most crime is reported to police not uncovered by them so it is difficult to suggest racism within the police itself.

Related Posts 

Gilroy draws on the labelling theory crime, among others.

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Ethnicity and Crime: Neo-Marxist Approaches

Neo-Marxism draws on aspects of Marxist and Interactionist theory in order to explain the criminalisation of ethnic minorities by the media and the state.

The classic study from this perspective is Stuart Hall’s Policing the Crisis (1979) in which he examined the moral panic that developed over the crime of mugging in the 1970s. Despite sensationalist newspaper reports that claimed there was an increase in mugging, particularly among young black men in London, Hall’s own research showed that it was actually growing more slowly than in the previous decade.

Hall argued that a moral panic over black criminality at the time created a diversion away from the wider economic crisis – ‘black youths out of control’ being the headlines rather than ‘Capitalism in Crisis’ – hence the title of the book ‘Policing the Crisis’ (of Capitalism).

Hall broke his analysis down into several stages – focusing firstly on how Capitalism caused crime, and then on how the media, state and the police responded to this, and finally on the further reaction of the criminalised black youth:

  1. A major economic recession in the mid-1970s increased unemployment and lead to wider civil unrest – such as mass strikes.
  1. Capitalism faced a ‘legitimation crisis’ – it appeared not to be working – government needed a scapegoat to divert attention away from the failing Capitalist system.
  1. Fortunately (for the Capitalist Class and the government) the recession also lead to further social and economic marginalization of black youth which lead to an increase in street robbery.
  1. The media picked up on these street robberies, creating a ‘moral panic’.
  1. The government responded to this by putting more police in areas with increasing crime rates.
  1. This lead to higher arrest rates which the media of course reported.
  1. The end consequence of all of this is that the public’s attention is firmly focused on the problem of black criminality, rather than the deeper problems of the capitalist system which both causes crime in the first place and then further criminalises certain people (young, black and working class).


  • Stuart Hall seems to contradict himself – On one hand he claims that black crime is exaggerated; on the other hand he states that crime is bound to rise because of factors such as unemployment. If crime rates do rise, then it isn’t a moral panic but a real event.
  • The association between criminality and black youth has continued since the economic crisis of the 1970s, so it’s not clear that this is the ultimate cause of the ‘moral panic’.
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Left Realist Explanations for Ethnic Differences in Crime

Left Realists, Lea and Young suggest that ethnic minorities are disadvantaged in comparison with other groups in society, and this is especially true for young black males who have much higher levels of unemployment. In comparison with their peers from other ethnic groups, they are much less likely to be successful in the labour market and so suffer lower wages and thus higher levels of relative deprivation.

Young ethnic minority males are also more likely to experience marginalisation because they are under-represented at the highest levels of society, in government, political parties and trades unions for example.


Lea and young argue it would be surprising if there were not higher crime levels among those groups which experienced higher levels of deprivation and marginalisation.

Evaluating Left Realism

Read through the following two items, you should be able to find at least two reasons why Left Realism may be inadequate to explain the higher rates of offending by Black and Asian people.

Item A: Statistics on ethnicity and relative deprivation

Some ethnic minority groups experience higher levels of poverty than white people. According to the Labour Force Survey 2004/05 20% of White British households are in income poverty compared to 25% of Indian, 30% of Black Caribbean, 45% of Black African, 55% of Pakistani and 65% of Bangladeshi households.

In terms of social class, 42% of White British students are from homes in the top two social classes, compared to 37% of Black Caribbean, 36% of Black African, 29% of Indian, 19% of Pakistani and only 9% of Bangladeshi students.

Item B: The Home Office Affairs Committee 2006-7 Report on young black people and the criminal justice system

This recent report seems to offer broad support for Left Realism, but also suggests there are other factors which need to be taken into account in order to explain variations in patterns of offending by ethnicity…

Data gaps prevent us from building a comprehensive picture of young black people’s overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. However, the evidence we received suggests young black people are overrepresented as suspects for certain crimes such as robbery, drugs offences and—in some areas—firearms offences. Young black people are also more likely to be victims of violent crimes.

Some of our witnesses were concerned that the media distorts perceptions of young black people’s involvement in crime. Research commissioned by this Committee contradicted this view, indicating that most members of the public reject stereotyping as regards young black people’s involvement in crime.

Social exclusion is a key underlying cause of overrepresentation. Eighty per cent of Black African and Black Caribbean communities live in Neighbourhood Renewal Fund areas. Deprivation directly fuels involvement in some types of offence—such as acquisitive crime—and also has an important impact on educational achievement and the profile of the neighbourhood young people will live in. The level of school exclusions appears to be directly related to educational underachievement and both are linked to involvement in the criminal justice system. Witnesses also emphasised factors within black communities which help exacerbate disadvantage and fuel involvement in the criminal justice system.

They drew attention to a lack of father involvement and to other parenting issues. In the perceived absence of alternative routes to success, some young people also actively choose to emulate negative and violent lifestyles popularised in music and film. Criminal justice system factors play an important role in promoting overrepresentation.

There is some evidence to support allegations of direct or indirect discrimination in policing and the youth justice system. However, the perception as well as the reality of discrimination has an impact. Lack of confidence in the criminal justice system may mean some young black people take the law into their own hands or carry weapons in an attempt to distribute justice and ensure their own personal safety.