This essay will examine and discuss the nature of crime in our society. As the essay progresses it will investigate and determine the nature of crime whether it violent or not? Findings of this essay are based upon the research done through the journals and articles written by renowned criminologists. Furthermore, types of crime and its nature are discussed in detail.
1) What is violence?
In order to determine if the crime is violent or not, understanding the meaning of violence is important. According to Wikipedia "Violence is the expression of physical or verbal force against one or more people, compelling action against one's will on pain of being hurt . " It can also be described as an assault, abuse or murder. Violence is persistent everywhere. It is present in the streets in the form of assault or fights. It is present in the media in the form of violent television serials, video games or films. It is also common in the places like schools or work place in the form of bullying, punching or slapping among students or workplace arguments turning into fights among co-workers.
2) Types of Crime
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Crime can be broadly classified in to two categories Violent and Non-Violent
2.1) Violent crimes: Samantha Bricknell in his article "Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice" (Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, June 2008) defined Violent crime as the offence categories which included of homicide, assault, sexual assault and robbery (both armed and unarmed). Other crimes like domestic violence, weapon trading and alcohol and drug related offences are classified as violent crimes by Australia institute of criminology. Some of these violent crimes are briefly discussed below.
Homicide: Homicide is described as the most serious crime committed again an individual. The primary reason behind the homicide is acquiring money. Most of the homicide offences are committed under the influence of alcohol. According to an article written by Jack Dearden and Jason Payne (Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice no. 372 Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, July 2009) based upon their research has shown that alcohol is strongly related to homicide crime. They also mentioned that every year about 4.5 percent of Australians (775,000 persons aged 14 years or older) has reported being physically abused by people influenced by alcohol and about 25% report being verbally abused (AIHW 2008). Furthermore Jack Dearden and Jason Payne have conducted a study on alcohol related homicide in Australia. They found that 729 cases of homicides were classified as alcohol related, representing 47% of all homicides recorded between July 2000 & June 2006. It was also mentioned that in almost 60% of these cases both the victim and offender were under the influence of alcohol. (Trends and issues in crime and criminal justice no. 372 Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, July 2009)
Sexual assault: Joanne Spangaro claimed in his article "rape and real rape"( Without consent : confronting adult sexual violence Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, January 1993) that it is difficult to gather exact statistic in the area of sexual assault as the reported rates to the police do not reflect the real incidences. Survey conducted by Australian bureau of statistics in 1993, shows only quarter of sexual assault, third of assault victim and half of robbery victims reported offence to police. Reason past offences were not reported to the police because of the crime committed these days were not even categorized as crime in the previous time. Sexual assault is a crime in which the offender forces the victim to indulge in sexual activity without victims consent. Sexual assault is classified as a violent form of crime because it causes great harm to the victim not only physically but also psychologically. This form of crime is not only limited to women, but it is also common against children and some cases against men as well. Australian institute of crime has mentioned in one of its study that during the period of 1996 to 2003, the occurrence of recorded sexual assault for children aged between 0-14 years was around 40 % of all reported sexual assaults (Bricknell 2008). During 1999 and 2003 the amount of cases reported for sexual assault in the age group of 0-14 year age has doubled than that of people aged 15 years or more (37% compared with 17%). It also mentioned that the rate of this crime has increased for both males and females aged 0-14 years. But the increase was far lesser for males than females, 27% of female victims compared with 19% of males. (Crime facts info no. 178 ISSN 1445-7288 Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, August 2008)
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Robbery: Robbery can be armed and unarmed in both instances it is violent in nature as the victim is terrified by the offender and mostly the victim is physically assaulted to stop from resisting. Robbery can occur both in residential and commercial location, commercial robberies may result in physical assault or murder and residential robberies end up in physical and sexual assault. AIC in their article (Victims of armed robbery by location" Crime facts info no. 188" April 2009) has mentioned that "42% of victims of armed robbery were in public locations such as the 'street or footpath, about 9% of victims are people who are at transport-related locations. Roughly one in eight people are targeted in their own home averaging about 12%, 6% in corner stores/takeaway, 4% in service stations and 3% licensed premises.
2.2) Non-Violent Crimes: non-violent crimes are also referred as white collar crimes. These types are crime do not result in physical harm to the victim but can result in emotional and mental stress. Cyber crime, environmental crime, financial crime, organised and transitional crime can be classified under non-violent categories.
Cyber crime: In recent times with the advent of technology new form of crime has emerged called Cyber-crime. It can be described as stealing someone's identity and use it for fraud purposes. Protecting one's privacy online has become a major issue. Most of these criminals are well educated and aware of the flaws of internet technology. Most of the victims will not even be aware that someone is stealing their private information and using it illegally. Credit card frauds are one of the major area where victims are targeted apart from this hackers try to hack in to the computers and steal private data such as security numbers and bank passwords. Recently many people have experienced that their private photos are misused or morphed and spread over the internet. Crimes like Identity fraud, illegal electronic funds transfers, Phishing, electronic money laundering and Sales and investment scams are some of the examples of cyber crime. Most of these crimes are not reported and in many cases the victims are not aware of the crime itself.
Consumer scams: many consumers are cheated everyday on the internet as well as by the people posing as representatives of reputed companies and offering unbelievable deals to the consumer who are often get lured in to such deals and end up losing money. According to a paper on Consumer scams in Australia by AIC (Crime facts info no. 144 March 2007) the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) conducted a pilot study in March 2006, in this study 85% of callers to the ACCC's national hotline has completed a questionnaire in regards to their experiences of scams over last one year. Callers were asked questions on what method did the scammers used to contact them. The results showed that the most familiar scam offers were linked to lotteries; most of it was received by mail and email. Most popular method for money transfer requests was sent by emails, phishing scams, and financial advice offers are other methods used to dupe consumers.
Human smuggling: Australia is facing lots of problems with refugee boats and asylum seeker. AIC in one of their study(Organised crime and migrant smuggling : Australia and the Asia-Pacific: June 2002) has stated that "every year, thousands of migrants are being smuggled to Australia, throughout the Asia-Pacific region and around the world, by increasingly sophisticated criminal enterprises that earn billions of dollars by exploiting those fleeing poverty and persecution"( Andreas Schloenhardt, AIC 2002). This crime is non violent in nature but has a great impact on the lives of the people. Many people who are struggling in their homeland to make a livelihood, gamble everything they own and try to migrate to another country in search of better life are ruthlessly duped by these agents, most of these people end up landing in detention centres and some of them even lose their life during such dangerous journeys.
Most of the non-violent crimes are committed by people who have good knowledge about the law. Many of these criminals are well dressed and they create an impression on the other person that what they are offering is genuine.
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Crime can either be violent or non-violent but it will always harm its victims either physically, emotionally or financially. Violent crimes usually attract more attention than that of non-violent crimes even though some crimes like financial scams or identity thefts can ruin the lives of the victims. It is very difficult to determine the rate of non-violent crimes because most of the crimes are not reported to the police. Australia's main concern is in regards to the state of violent crime committed which is often related to alcohol and drugs problems. There is significant evidence that many youngsters restore to violence which they learn from their parents, peers and the media. Government has introduced many laws to protect citizens but it's not only up to the law enforcement agencies to control crime but it's also a responsibility of the citizens to contribute to make society more safe and peaceful.