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How may the police socially construct crime?
It is the job of the police to enforce the law. However, there are so many laws which could be applied in so many different circumstances that any police officerneeds to use their discretion in deciding exactly what laws to apply and inwhat circumstances. This discretion then has different implications fordifferent groups in society. Discretion can also provide evidence to supportthe consensual or the conflict style of policing.
Official statistics are also a police recorded measure of crime and the police choose what to record.
what is the marxist view?
- Marxist theory stresses that the very definition of law is biased in favour of the powerful groups in society and against the working class. Therefore any upholding of the law, involves upholding the values of capitalist society. Police officers define crime in terms of street crimes and burglary, as opposed to white-collar or corporate crime and their repression of the working class derives from their role as agents of control of a capitalist society. Their internal values simply reflect the job they have been given to do. Therefore any discretion is shaped by the dominant values and forces in society.
- Cicourel - Negotiation of Justice –
He used participant Observation and non-participant observation and found that officers typifications and stereotypes led them to look for certain types of people. This led to a class bias, with working classes fitting their typifications most closely. They patrolled more working class areas and labelled more working classes as deviant. This may be why today the working class are over represented in crime stats. He argued that this showed that justice is negotiable as middle class less likely to be charged for the same offence
HOW DOES LABELLING THEORY SUPPORT THIS?
Labelling theory argues that through the process of selective enforcement, the police can label certain groups in society as being criminal.
Gill showed that the police are likely to label certain working class areas being crime 'hot spots'
what other evidence supports this?
it's also argued that the police may take part in coughing and cuffing
- Macpherson report.
How can this be related to feminism?
It fails to explain the extent to which crime and deviance are social constructions.
There are other agents of social control which can socially construct crime.
Left Realists are critical of any theory that explains crime and deviance as a social construction.