CRIM 101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Environmental Criminology, Domestic Violence, Public Intoxication

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Published on 21 Apr 2013
School
Simon Fraser University
Department
Criminology
Course
CRIM 101
CRIMINAL EVENT THEORY
Crimes as “social event”, involving offenders, victims, bystanders and witnesses, the
police and other participants in the criminal justice system
Examines the precursors, transaction 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 environmental
criminology
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,
criminal justice personnel
Referred to as events (or episodes) because they “have a beginning and an end”
THE “TYPICAL” OFFENDER
Most offenders are young males (more than 75% in some offence categories), aged 15-
24, lower socioeconomic status, and unemployed/temporarily unemployed
15-24 age group represented only 14% of population in 2003, while accounting for 45%
of violent crime reports and 32% of property crime
EXCUSES, EXCUSES
Excuse-based explanation (denial of responsibility)
Offender may agree the act was wrong, but say that he/she didn’t do it
JUSTIFICATION
Offender accepts responsibility, but claims the act was unjustified
Offender says the victim deserved it or “was asking for it”, or that everyone else is doing
it, so why can’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
VICTIM CHARACTERISTICS
Looks the same as their offenders
Individuals most likely to be victimized are young males, 15-24 years of age, who are
not poor, and/or from ethnic minorities
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People over 65 years of age are least to be victimized
Relatively little difference between genders in terms of overall risks of personal
victimization
VICTIM AWARENESS
Victims often don’t realize or acknowledge they’ve been victimized
May not define what happened to them as crime
Especially true if crime committed by a friend, acquaintance or family member
BYSTANDERS & WITNESSES
Bystanders and witnesses may deter or prevent crime by their presence
Offenders may be reluctant to commit a crime in front of witnesses or possible
interveners
Bystanders and witnesses may prevent a crime from escalating, by breaking up a fight, or
by calling the police
BYSTANDERS MAY ALSO FACILITATE CRIME
- Encouraging a fight
- Encouraging someone to vandalize a property
- Participating in a group that witnesses and encourages a sexual assault
THE POLICE
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”
If police are engaged in proactive policing, (have more patrols and actively search out
crimes), there is a 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
they happen to witness) then fewer acts are likely to be defined as crimes
REPORTING CRIMES
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
Victims more likely to report serious crimes, or crimes where perpetrator is known to
them (e.g., friend or family member)
Less likely to report less serious crimes, or crimes where perpetrator is known to them
Victims of crime sometimes involved in criminal activities themselves, and are reluctant
to draw attention of police to their own activities
THE DARK FIGURE OF RECORDING
Once crime is reported to police, it goes through process of assessment, classification
and (perhaps) recording
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