Certain Minorities And Criminal Offences Criminology Essay

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Abstract: This report attempts to outline individual projects set out by the Ministry of Justice as part of the Project Panacea. The total budget allowed is £100 million and the aim is to be able to develop a reasoned crime strategy within the specialised ring-fenced budget set.


Justify Choice of Item:

Official statistics reveal an overrepresentation of certain minorities among those arrested and imprisoned for some criminal offences. Experiencing all of these issues due to their ethnic backgrounds, minorities could thus become victims of the system. This could thus harm life chances and lead to offending on their part. A minority mentoring scheme will remove this alienation and act as a preventive measure towards offending as well.

Nolinske [1] identified the mentor as an expert, being someone with answers giving the mentees access to an experienced and supportive person. Mentors need to be self-assuring, confident, and possess the competence for a good mentoring relationship to occur. They need energy, political savvy, a sense of humour and a keen ability to lead because he/she must know how to suggest, counsel, role model risk taking and criticise effectively [2] .

Critical Assessment:

Minority mentoring will surely be beneficial to the mentee. Indeed it is a proven fact that minority mentors within homogeneous relationships experience a greater satisfaction and sense of contribution than if cultures are mixed [3] .

Mentoring will also lead to a breakdown of political and social barriers, sharing of values and dreams and vision, empowerment, inspiration and encouragement [4] . Mentors will not only give advice, help and guidance but will also help the mentees find new skills and internal strengths as they increasingly challenge the mentee toward goal accomplishment [5] . The mentor will also be able to offer expert questioning and challenging to stimulate critical thinking, opportunities to develop interdisciplinary peer relationships, recognition and identification of potential as well as structured goal setting with frequent evaluation and feedback of progress [6] .

The mentees will in turn demonstrate a willingness to help others, listen and learn, strive for excellence, trust and accept the mentor's advice, disclose frustrations and concerns, and appreciate people and resources [7] . Through mentoring mentees reported increased self-esteem and internal power of self-control, pride, confidence and inspiration [8] . Indeed, to prevent such alienation, following the US lead, the Arlene Mendle Postgraduate Scholarship has been established by the British Society of Criminology, with applications which were actually encouraged from minority students [9] .


The young is the one particularly targeted for this mentoring scheme. Indeed the causes of youth offending vary from low income , living in a deteriorated inner-city area, low intelligence or school performance, poor parental supervision, among others. [10] 

The fact that the scheme targets young males in inner city areas is justifiable to some extent. As Burgess [11] elaborated on his 'zonal hypothesis' model, the transitional zone was where the worst housing in the city was located and the poorest citizens lived there. Shaw and McKay [12] also acknowledged that the neighbourhoods with the highest crime rates were the transitional zone of the city.

There is also the constraint of anomie and strain. The rigid and unnatural class divisions may lead the oppressed to rebel. Merton [13] argues that in many Western cultures the individual is pressured to pursue goals in society and if the individual because of his low pay, or low skills is unable to achieve the aim like others in a better position did, he will then turn to illegitimate but effective aims in order to achieve this goal and be in the same position.

Many ethnic minorities experience this strain that Agnew [14] describes as failing to achieve both social and economic goal and loss of positive stimuli. One way to re-instate back this positive stimuli and behaviour among the youth is to encourage their educational attainment by the mentor and give them career strategy advisement and positive reassurance so as to enhance their level of self-control. Moreover, according to Gottfreson and Hirschi's [15] suggestion, self-control should be taught and formed from early childhood socialisation. "If the control is not present in the child, it will not be induced by the adult. [16] "

Nevertheless it should be borne in mind that there is a responsibility to be vigilant in critically assessing and monitoring policy developments. The Macpherson Report [17] into the death of Stephan Lawrence for instance, has brought a new language of institutional racism which in turn detected in processes and attitudes to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.


Justify choice of Item:

The rational offender perspective has indeed been proven: offenders favour crimes that demand the least effort, provide the best benefits, and pose the lower risks [18] . Community/local involvement is essential and not only helps to gain rational, maximum beneficial change, but also aim at a redesign that will actually reduce crime to a minimum. One study suggests that changes in layout under conditions of community mobilisation appear to have been partially responsible for decreases in some crimes [19] .

The Opportunity Theory suggests that levels of offending could be reduced by taking into account the situation in which the offence occurs [20] . It also considers the availability of the means to commit the particular offence. The Routine Activity Theory on the other hand can be summarised as a crime which takes place when a suitable target and potential offender meet at a particular time and place lacking some guardianship [21] . The Rational Choice Theory conversely, is an all-in-one theory. It is directly linked to security and crime prevention due to cost and benefit elements which have to do with offender decision-making [22] .

Critical Assessment:

Housing design or block layout will make it even more challenging to commit crimes by reducing the availability of crime targets, and removing barriers that prevent the offender or an offense in progress from being easily detected [23] . The land use as garden or play areas will likewise help to create a much safer use of the current neighbourhood space by in fact reducing the routine exposure of potential offenders to crime targets. This can be achieved by paying particular attention to walkways, paths, streets among other public spaces. Also, the current boom in urban gardening that can be seen on unused lots in the inner-city neighbourhoods is an example as to how the garden will give them a reason to keep an out on the street and neighbourhood [24] . Understanding the links between urban location and crime-prevention advantages of physical design or redesign has significant practical implications [25] . This can help agencies focus their limited resources on the sites that are likely to reap the maximum crime-preventive benefits.

In Britain, Alice Coleman for instance took a solely ecological approach in studying design problems in public sector housing. Unlike Shaw and McKay, Coleman argues to a far greater extent that it is the environment which determines criminality and her ideas were strongly positivist [26] . She laid down three factors which induced criminality- anonymity; lack of surveillance; and easy escape. For her, environmental redesign should aim to give an area character and allow easy surveillance [27] . Coleman and her research team from King's college London made certain specific recommendations such as no more flats should be built, each dwelling should have its own private space and garden and things like overhead walkways should be removed. As a matter of fact, in practice, the removal of walkways was followed by a 50 percent fall in the crime rate maintained for at least a year [28] .

Nevertheless, one of the major drawbacks to extending the amount of defensible space designs has been the lack of research about how the potential offenders in fact perceive or use these physical features in question [29] . It was also stated that what really cause people in cities to fear and be concerned about their own welfare was to a great extent the physical and social signs they had surrounding them that signified a breakdown in society [30] . Crowe [31] however disagreed with these arguments. He stated that a fair amount is known about designing and redesigning locations and that given certain social and cultural conditions, the strategy will instead help to discourage crime, increase security certainty and make residents or users feel less vulnerable.


Three studies and evaluations in fact provided proven examples of the effectiveness of this redesigning strategy in substantially reducing crimes or crime-related public order problems:

(a) Painter [32] studied people's experience of crime and deduced that six weeks after street lighting was installed, crime fell from 21 before to 3 after. Better lighting enables more surveillance, and also encourages community pride which in turn enhances social cohesion.

(b) Newman [33] : Designing safer public housing, like buildings with fewer apartments per entryway, fewer storeys, and better views of the outside contain residents which possess much lower levels of fear and rates of victimisation.

(c) Ycaza [34] : Erecting barriers and changing street patterns have, in a North Miami neighbourhood, seemed to help residents to lessen the volume of drug dealers and buyers who were usually found driving through the area. As a result crimes such as auto theft as well as assault declined significantly in their neighbourhood.


The term 'domestic violence' is not a legally defined offence although the Home Affairs Committee defined it "as any form of physical, sexual or emotional abuse which takes place within the context of close relationship" [35] .

Justify choice of item:

As Home Office admitted "For too long, society has tolerated or ignored domestic violence" [36] . This strategy therefore helps to enhance the importance of domestic violence as a social problem and emphasises the fact that it should no longer be viewed as a private matter by the authorities. As an efficient team, led by specially trained police officers, it would be involved in and committed to delivering a quality domestic violence response.

Critical Assessment:

This reasoned strategy will definitely bring some beneficial aspects to the response as to how police should cope with domestic violence incidents in the future. The specialised team could be made to attend meetings of their local domestic violence forum, and spend much of their time liaising with other important related agencies as well [37] . This is important in order to increase understanding of the police role as well encouraging commitment of agency resources to victims. By handling domestic violence incidents personally, the team would also be able to prioritise repeat victims and those with serious assault. Repeat victimisation is a useful, predictable indicator that violence would be more likely to occur again, and the team could thus proceed to immediate arrests of the offenders on this ground.

Specialised roles will involve detection, crime prevention and provision for victims "working together to one end" [38] . The roles of the specialised team would thus be highly beneficial and lead to more prosecutions, fewer cases being withdrawn by victims after the complaint were made, and a more positive status within the police force [39] . The training on domestic violence should also be seen as a rolling programme to reinforce good practice. Several approaches could in fact be used such as playing tapes of domestic violence calls, reviewing the record of police responses to incidents that resulted in homicide, and discussing the policing strategies in place in order to break the cycle of repeat victimisation [40] .

Increased time would also be spent with agencies working in the field such as primary health care. The team will thus adopt a more interventionist approach and a more sympathetic and understanding attitude towards the victims and provide them with information about obtaining help in community [41] .

However, Grace [42] (1995) noted that although most forces had introduced policies to deal with domestic violence needs of the victim, putting the policy into practice had been less successful. This is why the approach of having specialised and trained police officers appears to be more appealing since the team would be led by experts in this specific field. The force could thus no more complain about being overloaded with work or that their role as patrol officers has been undermined if they had to deal with domestic violence incidents personally.


Looking at the criminal law, the difficulty is the police and the prosecution response to domestic violence cases. The dominant police culture until relatively recently, viewed violence at home as 'just another domestic' a nuisance call, thus separating social service from law enforcement roles. [43] But their work should be neither one nor the other- it must have to do with 'order maintenance' instead.

Hence, as you can acknowledge the 'Minority Mentoring Scheme' targets the youth- they are the adults of tomorrow and although child curfew orders, parenting orders and surveillance programmes may be an alternative, this scheme appears to be offering a more personal, sensitive approach to those young people. 'Intelligent Design' appears to be one of the best alternatives in preventing crimes through increasing risk of being caught, and reducing opportunities. Care should be taken so that implementation will not in any way violate the individuals' privacy or quality of life. And lastly with the specialised 'Domestic Violence Unit', the number of offences would thus be significantly reduced via the related enforcement, preventive and sensible measures. The Ministry of Justice can thus be guaranteed that Project Panacea would deliver qualitative aims, target offenders, protect victims and make society a safer place. The total costs of the Project amount to £93m which is thus very cost effective. The remaining £7m could be used or reserved for the extra administrative, incidental, operational and developments costs which would be incurred during the implementation of these purported strategies.