CRIM 101 – LEC 2 – JAN 17
CRIMINAL EVENT THEORY
Examines the precursors, transactions and aftermaths of criminal events.
Examines the settings in which criminal events take place.
IS IT NEW?
Criminal event theory is not “new”.
Interwoven with routine activities theory, lifestyle exposure theory and
All focus on "routine activities", "motivated offenders", "criminal
opportunities“/”suitable targets” “guardianship” and “situational crime prevention”.
CRIMES AS SOCIAL EVENTS
Criminal event theory says crimes should be viewed as “social” events.
Involve people interacting with each other – e.g., offenders, victims, bystanders,
witnesses, and criminal justice personnel.
Referred to as events (or episodes) because they “have a beginning and an
THE “TYPICAL” OFFENDER
Most offenders are young males (more than 75% in some offence categories),
aged 15-24, lower, socioeconomically status, and unemployed/temporarily
Age 15-24 groups represented only 14% of population in 2003, while accounting
for 45% of violent crime report and 32% of property crime.
Excuse-based explanation (denial or responsibility).
Offender may agree the act was wrong, but say that he/she didn’t do it.
Offender accepts responsibility, but claims the act was justified.
Offender says the victim deserved it or “was asking for it”, or that “everyone else
does it, so why shouldn’t I?”
FEELINGS OF GUILT
Known as “techniques of neutralization.
Offenders do experience feelings of guilt, and find it necessary to
rationalize/justify their behavior.
Offenders vs Victims
We perceive a different view between the two but in fact are the same. VICTIM CHARACTERISTICS cont.
Individuals most likely to be victimized are young males, 15-24 years of age, who
are poor, and/or from ethnic minorities.
People over 65 years of age are least likely to be victimized.
Relatively little difference between genders in terms of overall risk of personal
Victims often don’t realize or acknowledge they’ve been victimized.
May not define what happened what happened to them as a crime.
Especially true if crime committed by a friend, acquaintance or family member.
BYSTANDERS & WITNESSES
Bystanders and witnesses may deter or prevent a crime by their presence.
Offenders may be reluctant to commit a crime in front of witnesses or possible
Bystanders and witnesses may prevent a crime from escalating, by breaking up a
fight, or by calling the police.
BYSTANDERS & WITNESSES cont.
BYSTANDERS MAY ALSO FACILITATE CRIME:
o Encourage a fight.
o Encouraging someone to vandalize a property.
o Participating in a group that witnesses and encourages a sexual assault.
Police often have direct influence on whether or not an act comes to be regarded
as a crime.
May let someone off with warning if they come from a “good family”, yet arrest
someone who does exactly the same thing because he/she is a “street kid”.
THE POLICE cont.
If police are engaged in proactive policing (have more patrols and actively search
out crimes”, there is higher likelihood of an act being defined as criminal.
If engaged in reactive policing (only respond to crimes that are reported to them
or that have happed to witness) then fewer acts are likely to be defined as
Many crimes do not even come to the attention of the police.
Victims decide for one reason or another not to report them.
Unreported/unknown amount of crime is estimated to be as high as 66% or more
of all crimes that are committed.
REPORTING CRIMES cont.
Victims more likely to report serious crimes or crimes where perpetrator is a
stranger. Less likely to report less serious crimes, or crimes where perpetrator is known to
them (e.g., friend or family member)
Victims of crime sometimes involved in criminal activated themselves, and are
reluctant to draw attention of police to their own activates.
THE DARK FIGURE OF RECORDING
Once crime is reported to police, it goes through process of assessment,
classification and (perhaps) recording.
Police decision-making influenced by a variety of factors, including relationship (if
any) between offender and victim, policing style of the individual officer,
characteristics of the suspect, and preferences of the complainant.
THE KANSAS CITY EXPERIMENT
1972-1973 study in Kansas City.
Tested proactive, reactive and control responds to police visibility.
Surveyed 15 beats (shift in a police department (MT MC)) – 5 proactive (go out
look for crime), 5 reactive (go to a crime once called), 5 controls (do what your
40% or more of police officers’ time is uncommitted.
THE KANSAS CITY EXPERIMENT cont.
No statistically significant differences in crime rates over period of study.
Lowest crime rate reported in reactive beat.
No significant increase or decrease in arrest rates between three groups.
No significant increase in citizens’ perceptions of crime risks.
ORDER MAINTENANCE CRACKDOWNS
Assumption that aggressive order maintenance will reduce serious crime.
Associated with Wilson and Kelling’s Broken Windows theory – that social
disorder leads to more serious crime if not attended to.
Focus on hot spots – areas that produce a large numb