Official Statistics on Ethnicity and Crime

Unlike with social class, the home office does record explicit data based on the ethnic backgrounds of those stopped and searched, arrested and imprisoned. There are a lot of different official statistics on ethnicity and crime, reflecting the different stages of the criminalisation process: 

  1. Stop and search stats
  2. Arrest statistics
  3. Penalty order notices and cautions
  4. Those who are subject to court proceedings
  5. Those convicted in court
  6. Those sent to jail from court
  7. Prison statistics (those in jail) (not shown in the table below)

ethnicity-and-crime

Of course in order to be properly comparative, we need to look at the numbers from each ethnic group at each stage in proportion to the overall numbers of each ethnic group in the population as a whole, as the table above does.

Official Statistics on Ethnicity and Crime – The Most Obvious Differences between Ethnic Groups… 

Proportionate to the overall numbers in the adult population as a whole…

  • Black people are approximately SIX times more likely to be stopped and searched and SIX times more likely to be sent to jail;
  • Asian people are THREE times more likely to be stopped and searched than White people, but have a similar chance of being sent to jail.

The rest of this post provides a little more detail on how the stats vary at different stages of the criminalisation process. 

Stop and Search Statistics by Ethnicity

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.

stop and search.jpg

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, which is what the above spoof advert mush be drawing on.

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.”

Prosecution and trial statistics 

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 statistics

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.

The current actual prison statistics broken down by ethnicity look something like this:

ethnicity-prison-uk

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.

Self-report studies

Though not ‘official statistics’ because they’re not done by the government routinely, it’s interesting to contrast the above stats to this alternative way of measuring crime. 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%).

What is Racism?

The concept of Racism is central to understanding differentiation and inequality in society, and it is a fundamental key concept in sociology.  It is especially relevant to explaining differences in imprisonment rates and educational achievement, and (if you’re learning the correct second year option at A level), the issue of why some countries are less developed than others.

The problem with Racism (in addition to the actual problem of racism) is that it’s very difficult to define – because there’s a lot to it. Below are are a few thoughts on how Racism may be defined in different ways.

(All of the definitions below are taken from one source, which is US based, source below, so don’t forget to be critical of the ideas here!)

Racism: Race, Prejudice, and Power

Racism = Race Prejudice + Power 

Race

A specious classification of human beings created by Europeans (whites) which assigns human worth and social status using ‘white’ as the model of humanity and the height of human achievement for the purpose of establishing and maintaining privilege and power. The idea of Race, is based on the ideas of white supremacy and white privilege.

Prejudice

A prejudice is a pre-judgment in favor of or against a person, a group, an event, an idea, or a thing. An action based on prejudgment is discrimination. A negative prejudgment is often called a stereotype. An action based on a stereotype is called bigotry.

Power

Power” is a relational term. It can only be understood as a relationship between human beings in a specific historical, economic and social setting. It must be exercised to be visible.

1. Power is control of, or access to, those institutions sanctioned by the state.

2. Power is the ability to define reality and to convince other people that it is their definition.

3. Power is ownership and control of the major resources of a state; and the capacity to make and enforce decisions based on this ownership and control;

4. Power is the capacity of a group of people to decide what they want and to act in an organized way to get it.

5. (In terms of an individual), power is the capacity to act.

Structural Racism, Institutional Racism and Individual Racism

These are best seen as different levels of Racism – structural racism being TOTAL historical and systemic racism, institutional, is the next level down, at the level of institutions such as the police, and individual is obviously just at the level of the individual 

Structural Racism

Structural Racism in the U.S. is the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color.

It is a system of hierarchy and inequity, primarily characterized by white supremacy – the preferential treatment, privilege and power for white people at the expense of Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Arab and other racially oppressed people.

Structural Racism Structural Racism lies underneath, all around and across society. It encompasses:

(1) history, which lies underneath the surface, providing the foundation for white supremacy in this country.

(2) culture, which exists all around our everyday lives, providing the normalization and replication of racism and,

3) interconnected institutions and policies, they key relationships and rules across society providing the legitimacy and reinforcements to maintain and perpetuate racism.

Structural Racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism (e.g. institutional, interpersonal, internalized, etc.) emerge from structural racism.

Indicators/Manifestations:

The key indicators of structural racism are inequalities in power, access, opportunities, treatment, and policy impacts and outcomes, whether they are intentional or not.

Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually producing new, and re-producing old forms of racism.

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism is discriminatory treatment, unfair policies and inequitable opportunities and impacts, based on race, produced and perpetuated by institutions (schools, mass media, etc.). Individuals within institutions take on the power of the institution when they act in ways that advantage and disadvantage people, based on race.

Individual Racism

These are private manifestations of racism that reside inside the individual.

Examples include prejudice, xenophobia, internalized oppression and privilege, and beliefs about race influenced by the dominant culture.

White Supremacy, Whiteness and White Privilege

An aspect of Racism which often goes unconsidered is the idea of ‘whiteness’ as being the baseline from which everything else is judged. As with everything else in sociology, this idea started somewhere in history and is a social construction.

White

The term white, referring to people, was created by Virginia slave owners and colonial rulers in the 17th century. It replaced terms like Christian and “Englishman” (sic) to distinguish European colonists from Africans and indigenous peoples. European colonial powers established white as a legal concept after Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 during which indentured servants of European and African descent had united against the colonial elite. The legal distinction of white separated the servant class on the basis of skin color and continental origin. “The creation of ‘white’ meant giving privileges to some, while denying them to others with the justification of biological and social inferiority.

White Privilege

A privilege is a right, favor, advantage, immunity, specially granted to one individual or group, and withheld from another. White privilege is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of:

(1) Preferential prejudice for and treatment of white people based solely on their skin color and/or ancestral origin from Europe; and

(2) Exemption from racial and/or national oppression based on skin color and/or ancestral origin from Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Arab world.

White Supremacy

White supremacy is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.

In a white supremacy system, white privilege and racial oppression are two sides of the same coin. “White peoples were exempt from slavery, land grab and genocide, the first forms of white privilege (in the future US).”

Source

Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities POVERTY OUTCOMES Structural Racism By Keith Lawrence, Aspen Institute on Community Change and Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center at UC Berkeley For the Race and Public Policy Conference 2004

http://www.intergroupresources.com/rc/Definitions%20of%20Racism.pdf