Social Policy and Crime Essay

A critical examination of the relationship between social policy and crime Denham (2000) defines crime as when a formal set of rules which designed to be observed or a set of standards of conduct which all members of society are expected to follow are broken. Breaking these formal set of rules or the law will lead to sanctions by the government’s principal enforcement agencies the police and the courts (Denham, 2000).

However, Knepper (2009) purports that Richard Titmuss, a social democrat believed that crime is a social problem which originates from inequalities in society. The essay seeks to critically examine the relationship between social policy and crime. It is the aim of social policy to use distributive justice to solve the inequalities in society. Therefore, according to Titmuss it makes sense to rely on social policy to respond to crime (Knepper 2009). It is then the author’s opinion that crime and social policy are inextricably linked.

Social policy are public guidelines for changing, maintaining or creating of living conditions that are conducive to human welfare (Encyclopaedia, 2010). The aim of social policy is to improve human welfare and to meet human needs for education, health, housing and social security. Dean (2010) argues that to achieve to improve human welfare and to meet human needs for education, health, housing and social security requires an understanding of what is required to achieve human wellbeing.

He further states that to formulate social policy requires, the ability to analyse statistical data, to weigh up the successes and failures of particular policies, to interpret popular aspirations, to explore the perceptions of marginalised and vulnerable people, to understand the past and to anticipate the future. Knepper (2009) agrees with this observation and points out that social policy is about the role of government in distributing resources between the rich, poor, dependants, young and old as well as how responsibilities are shared between the government, social institutions and the individual.

Poverty on the other hand is mainly caused by poor education and resources. Some household have single parents who have little to offer or support their families. Kraybill and Laboa (2001) mentions that country side people have limited professional training and work experience service which reduces any chances of securing a job or broaden their learning levels. Beale (2004) suggests that transport will restrict some people to commute to work since their wages are very low. He then adds that family commitments are another issue because single arents cannot go to work or leave their children unattended. They cannot afford to send their children to child minders, or child day care centres while they are at work. Traditional View of Crime and Welfare Valsamis et al (2003) argue that the traditional perceptive of organised crime is of a set of established hierarchically organised gangs which through violence have acquired monopoly control of certain major illegal markets. This control has produced huge profits which have been used to bribe public officials.

Hobbs (2001) questions this traditional view of organised crime and the whole assumption of crime as being an organised and hierarchical activity. Hobbs (2001) argues that crime structures tend to reflect their host societies and that instead of hierarchical relationships crime groups are often disorganised. Individuals come together on an opportunistic basis or around kinship. Drug trafficking is an example of where the assumption of hierarchical gangs controlling the flow of narcotics has been replaced by a fragmented system with a variety of suppliers and distributors carving out areas of control for themselves.

King and Wincup (2000) maintain that an analysis of the 1930’s American mobster Al Capone shows that organised crime is an ever evolving partnership in illegal goods and services. Valsamis et al (2003) in the case of paedophile networks individuals have rarely been part of organised groups but time and again exist in loose networks that keep contact via the Internet. They also argue that there is a school of thought that prefers to classify the lawless activity of organised crime form of as enterprise crime rather than the former Valsamis et al (2003).

When studying organised crime there is an assumption traditionally that the law stands in the middle of a large chasm separating lawful and unlawful activities. Crime therefore represents an attempt to take advantage of illegal economic markets paralleling other forms of economic activity (Valsamis et al 2003). It is also observed that for migrants there is a risk of criminal behaviour as they are forced into supporting themselves by illegitimate means because the legitimate economy is barred to them. Crime then is another form of entrepreneurial activity (Valsamis et al 2003).

King and Wincup (2000) agree with this view and add that in Chicago during the prohibition the causes of crime were among others, immigration, poverty and a corrupt political machine. Downes (1995) observes that the followers of Karl Marx believe that society is divided into the two classes, those that have and those who do not. Marxists believe that the state, the police, the legal system, the family maintain and reflect ruling class ideology. Laws are made by the state which represents the interests of the ruling classes.

It is the writer’s opinion that crime appears to be an activity that is undertaken to survive under unfavourable social conditions. It can however, be argued that there is more to crime and delinquency. A lot of controversy surrounds the ranking of crime seriousness relatively to street crimes. The public in general assert white collar crimes are more damaging and might go unchallenged as they are committed by organisations who can afford to sweep it under the carpet. Early research though suggest that white collar crimes were not viewed as being serious especially in comparison to crimes committed against the public.

Wheeler et al, 1988 cited by Piquero et al (2008) argues that white collar crime can easily harm the environment. The relationship between Crime and Welfare Bondeson (2005) maintains that crime rates have increased in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway since the 1960s. Crimes of theft and assault in the Scandinavian countries and in Austria, England and Wales, Germany, and the Netherlands have also increased. It is Bondeson (2005)’s conviction that the welfare model has not lessened crime but that it has softened the criminal justice policies in the welfare states.

Bondeson (2005) views are also shared by Heffer (2008) who also links welfare with crime. Heffer (2008) believes that society can only address the problem of youth crime in particular and crime in general if society understands the evils of cradle-to-grave welfarism. Heffer (2008) explains that before the advent of the welfare state being poor meant not having access to certain luxuries. Now because of welfarism there is so many people destroying the social order and doing so at the state’s expense.

Heffer (2008) observes that being self-reliant is looked down upon and claiming benefits has become a profession. While Downes’ view is that welfare provision does not assist crime reduction, but that it actually increases it. Welfare provision creates a new underclass born of welfare dependency (Downes 1995). Heffer (2008) points out that Leftist political parties love welfare because it satisfies their hunger for redistribution of wealth and yet he believes that welfare gives the Leftist political parties, people they can manipulate and control.

It can then be concluded that welfare can be used as a political tool by the politicians. Heffer (2008) points out that it is odd that Leftist political parties cannot see that the welfare state is a curse. There is a link between welfare and the repulsiveness of some council estates, the lack of morals of many of the people who live on them and the failure of so many of our schools. ****** Some youths do not have any sense of responsibility because their parents have none. Gyngell (2009) agrees with this observation and adds that society is breaking up because families are failing.

In the United Kingdom there are so many children who are neglected and out of control. This is confirmed by the highest rates of truancy and violence and disorder including murder (Gyngell, 2009). Walklate (2007) notes that young people in high educational and occupational aspirations and who are strongly attached to their school are less likely to engage in crime. The same is applicable to young people who are strongly attached to their parents. Walklate (2007) contrasts this with young people who do poorly at school and have friendships with criminals are more prone to engage in crime.

However, Knepper (2009) points out that based on the strain or anomie theory crime is brought by poverty as well as inequality. Anomie is a large step towards a general theory of deviant behaviour. It provides an explanation of the concentration of crime the term is used to describe the lack of social regulation as one manner that could elevate high suicide rates. Knepper (2009) explains that in America during the 1930s and 1960s there was an overemphasis on material success and individual achievement but there was also an absence of structures to make this happen.

This placed demands on the individual to pursue the route to success through legitimate means or to use illegitimate means like illicit drug trade. Knepper (2009) reports that in a research conducted in America it was found that increased welfare assistance across 406 metropolitan counties was correlated with lower levels of crime. It was therefore concluded that welfare assistance lessens what would otherwise be a strong relationship between disadvantage and crime rates.

Therefore it can be concluded that welfare assistance appears to allow poor individuals to legally reach their defined goals thereby lessening the anger and frustration that would otherwise lead them to crime (Knepper, 2009). Walklate (2007) observes that for both men and women being at the bottom of the class structure measured by personal socioeconomic status, socioeconomic status of the area of residence, being unemployed or belonging to an oppressed racial minority increases rates of offending for all types of crime apart from those for which opportunities are systematically less available to the poor.

Downes (1995) notes that in the wake of rising youth unemployment in the early 1980s hard drug use and crime became more prevalent in most socially deprived areas of Britain. Walklate (2007) maintains that this is why it is the social rather than psychological or biological explanations of lawbreaking behaviour that is the primary concern of criminology. Knepper (2009) maintains that criminology is concerned among others with the extent and distribution of criminal conduct in society and the social, political and influences on criminal behaviour.

The essay has highlighted the traditional views of crime and welfare. It further explored the relationship between welfare and crime levels which emanate from poverty to lack of help and lower levels of education as well as poor housing upon the offenders. It went on the indicate how the government can seize the opportunity and manipulate the public. It can then be concluded that social policy and crime are inseparable.