Men – the real cause of crime?

Posted: November 27th, 2011  Author:   2 Comments »

I’m looking forward to talking in a couple of weeks time to some Sociology A-level students about UK crime, crime statistics and a host of related crime issues – one of which was crime related to gender. Do get in touch if you’d like me – Dan Lewis – to talk to you abuut UKCrimeStats, crime issues etc.. I can’t afford to give these talks for free but offer a much reduced and affordable rate for Schools and village societies as well as the angle and insight of an independent.

Anyway, back to the title of the post – if you’re interested in crime and gender relationships, you absolutely have to read this article in The Sydney Morning Herald, Counting the social cost of masculinity by Cynthis Cockburn, an honorary professor in the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, Warwick University and Ann Oakley, a sociology professor.

Amongst the many factual points they assemble;

“Take the August riots in Britain this year. As the suspects were charged, considerable detail was published by the Ministry of Justice. The press focused on the age, ethnicity, neighbourhood and employment status of offenders. Yet by far the most dramatic divergence the statistics revealed was gender: 92 per cent of the first 466 defendants were male.”

and

“If men committed crimes leading to jail at the rate women do, the government would save about £3.4 billion a year. Zoom out to the overall cost of crime, calculated by the Home Office at £78 billion a year in 2009, including not only criminal justice system costs but lost productivity, service costs, and impact on victims.”

Here at UKCrimeStats – we currently have no data on the criminal and certainly not on their gender. I don’t think there’s much doubt that most crime is committed by men. The trouble is, I don’t think men will ever commit crimes at the rate women do and a male-free society is not really an option. And I’m not wholly convinced that the culture of masculinity (how do you define that?) is the root cause for crime. Moreover, what about the thumping big majority of men who are not criminals but manage to be seemingly masculine?

The authors didn’t seem to have space to say which of “. . . the certain widespread masculine traits and behaviour are dangerous and costly to individuals and society“.

I do much agree though that it is violent crime that is so worrying and there does seem to be an established long-term rise. Measured as a percentage of the total of reported crime, violent crime has been;

2.4% in 1900

1% in 1937

0.9% in 1967

5.6% in 1997

About 10% so far in 2011 - CORRECTION (28/11/2011) – sorry, it worse than I thought as I was including ASB under the crime total which it isn’t.  In September 2011, violent crime made up 17.42% of the total of recorded crime. 

These first 4 figures come from a quite brilliant book, “The Strange Death of Moral Britain” by Professor Christie Davies that explores how the UK went from being a low crime, highly moral society from the end of the Victorian period to the 1950s to what we have today. I couldn’t give justice to his book here but there really are many factors at play – family breakdown, drug addiction, the death of religion, alcoholism and a major decline in moral habits of orderliness, honesty, duty and loyalty.

The good news is, as a country, we have been here before – the early Victorian period was heavily marred by crime and social breakdown and they managed to put nearly all of these negatives into reverse by the end of the 19th century.

And I for one am young and naive enough to believe it can be done again.

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