Chapter 2 notes
Criminal event theory
crime 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 the criminal events.
Examines the setting in which criminal events take place.
Is it new?
- Criminal event theory is not “new”
- Interwoven with routine activites theoy, lifesetyle exposure theory, and
- All focus in “routine activites” , “motivated offenders”, “criminal
oppurtunityies.”/”suitable target”, “guardianship” and “situational crime
Crimes as social events
- criminal event theory says crimes should be views as social event.
- Involving people interacting with each other, e.g., offender, victims,
bystanders, witnesses, criminal justice personnel
- Referred to as event (or episodes) because they “have a beginning and an
- most offenders are young males, (more than 75% in some categories), aged
15-25, lower socioeconomic status, and unemployed/temporarily
- 15-24 age group represented only 14% of the population in 2004, while
accounting for 42% of violent crime reports and 32% of property crime.
- Excuse based explantation (denial of responsiblity)
- Offender may agree the act was wrong, but say that he/she didn’t do it.
- Offenders accept the responsibility, but claim the act was unjustified.
- Offenders say the victim deserved it or was asking for it, or everyone is doing
it why can i
Feeling of guilt
- known as techniques of neutralization
- offender do experience feeling of guilt, and find it necessary to
rationalize/justify their behavior.
- looks the same as their offenders.
- Individual that most likely to be victimized are young males, 15-24 years of
age, who are poor, and/or from ethnic minorities
- People over the age of 65 are least to be victimized.
- Rekatively little difference between genders in terms of overall risks of
personal victimization. Victim awareness
- victims often don’t realize or acknoeledge they’ve been victimized
- may not define that happened to them as a crime
- especially true when crimes are committed by friends, acquaintance or
Bystanders & witness
- bystander and witness may deter or prevent crime by their presence
- offender may be reluctant to commit crime in front of witnesses or possible
- may prevent crime from escalating, by breaking up a fight, or by calling the
- bystander may also facilitate crime:
- - encouraging a fight
- -encouraging someone to vandalize a property
- - participating in a group that witness 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 if they come frm a “good family”, yet arrest someone
does the exactly the same thing because he/she is a “street kid”
- if police are enaged in proactive policing, (have more patrols and actively
search out crime), there is a higher likelihood of an act being defined as
- if engaged in reactive policing, (only respond to crime that are reported, or
they happen to witness) then fewer acts are likely to be defined as crimes.
- many crimes donot even come to the attention of police.
- Victims decide for one reason or another not to report them.
- Unreported/unknown acmount of crimes 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 a
- Less likely to report less serious crime, or crime where perpetrator is known
to them. Eg., friends, family.
- Victims of crime sometimes involved in criminal activities themselves, and
are reluctant to draw attention of police to their own activities.
Dark figure of reporting
- once crime is reported to police, it goes through process of assessment,
classification and (perhaps) recording
- police decision- making influence by a variety of factors, including
relationship (if any) between offender and victim, policing style of the
individual officer, characterstics of the suspect, and preferences of the
Kansas city experiment
- 1972-1973 study in Kanas city
- tested proactive and reactive and control responses to police visibility - surveyed 15 beats, 5 proactive, 5 reactive, 5 controls
- 40% of officers’ time is uncommitted
- no statistically significant in crime rates over the period of study
- lowest crime rate in proactive beats
- no significant increase or decrease in arrest rates be