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Exploring the Distinction between Offenders and Criminals in Criminology and Victimology

  • 12 Pages
  • Published On: 12-12-2023

Introduction

The definition and nature offender includes a vast spectrum of theories. While the society often approaches offender and criminal under the same light, under the textbook definition they subtly differ from one another. All criminals are offenders under the law of the country but not all offenders are criminals. Offenders can be defined as the ‘breaker of law’ and such law can be civil or criminal in nature. Despite the differences, offenders and criminals are often used interchangeably and both of them are treated under the subject of criminology and victimology herein. The subject matters of criminology and victimology are often regulated by the vicious cycle of ‘cause and effect’ and this is the prime concept behind the psychology that regulates an offender in a society.

Whether offenders are born or made bad – the answer to this question cannot be given in a straightforward manner. In order to understand the depth of the topic, we shall hereby choose habitual offenders and in respect to them, we shall dissect the several theories and schools of criminology and how offenders have been viewed by different scholar since the establishment of a definite judicial system. We shall also critically discuss whether offenders and victims are trapped a vicious cycle of cause and effect to conclude the discussion herein.

The Birth of an Offender – a historical perspective with respect of schools of criminology

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In order to critically assess the given topic herein, we shall discuss how different schools of criminology has viewed offenders and how several eminent thinkers, philosophers and jurists have overviewed the actions of offenders or criminals herein. With the growth of the society, the views reflected on offender have changed immensely and a detailed discussion on different schools of criminology shall clarify the development of the concept of offender herein.

During the age of divine powers and the when the concept of divine rights were controlling the societal orders, offenders were often linked to the demonic powers. Eminent thinkers, Hobbes and Locke propounded the pre-classical school of criminology where “an offender was considered to be of someone who is a socially depraved person and he/she can only be cured through pain and torture herein” (Void, 1951, p.157). However, the abovementioned concept took a turn during the 18th century with the establishment of the classical school of criminology. William Blackstone, Jeremy Bentham essentially linked the actions of the offender to the theory of pleasure and pain and attributed the criminal mind to the free will of an individual (Canals, 1960).

In the midst of a clash between the pre-classical and classical school of criminology, the neo-classical school of criminology held a complete different view from the abovementioned two schools. The neo-classists essentially linked the behaviors of an offender to mental disorder where an offender lacks the sense of good or bad and became incapable to control his/her actions. The neo-classists also propounded a subjective approach towards the conditions under which an individual commits crime (Void, 1951). This subjective approach, which only consisted a insignificant part of the neo-classical school, became the base of the positive school of criminology where the eminent Italian criminologists namely Lombrosso, Ferri and Garofalo focused solely on the anthropological, physical and social environment of an offender (Musmanno, 1925).

With the emergence of the 1900’s, the abovementioned approaches were slowly discarded and two schools of criminology – the clinical school of criminology and the sociological school of criminology. As it has been stated by Prof. Gillin herein, the clinical school of criminology extensively focuses on the psychological behavior of an offender and emphasizes on the dysfunctional social environment which induces such psychological deformities in offenders (Wolfgang, 1963). Also, Tarde and Cohen of the Sociological school of criminology completely rejected the view of the positive school and linked the action of an offender directly to the influence of the social environment (Glaser, 1958).

The onset of committing offence – theories of Criminology and Victimology

As it has been mentioned by Tarde and Cohen in the sociological school of criminology, offenders or specifically habitual offenders, prone to be a law-deviant, are product of their respective social environment. The modern school of criminology and victimology essentially relies on the sociological school of Tarde and Cohen and herein we shall discuss the theories of criminology and victimology.

Control Theory of Crime and Deviant Place Theory of Victimology

Control theory of crime was proposed by Durkheim (Thorlindsson & Bernburg, 2004), who essentially was of the opinion that when social and personal controls that prevent most person from engaging in criminal activities, weakens, an offender takes birth. Again the Deviant Place theory of victimology (Meier & Meithe, 1993) essentially states that a person is more likely to fall prey in the hands of the crime if they are exposed to dangerous area where social and personal control weakens in a person’s life due to bad neighborhood.

2. Social Learning Theory of Criminology and Lifestyle Theory of Victimology

R.L. Ackers defines the social learning theory of criminology as the effect of individual’s own morale, values and perception towards an offence. The differential association with certain leaders or elders influences the characteristics of habitual offender from a delinquent age (Ackers et al, 1979). Also, the Lifestyle Theory of victimology states that someone, who is prone to certain kind of lifestyle such as gambling or drug abuse where any elders or certain leaders exerts influence on that person, can become victim easily (Ackers et al, 1979).

3. Conflict Theory of Crime and Victim Precipitation Theory

Both of these theories of criminology and victimology states that due to difference in culture, colour, race and ethnicity, a person becomes more prone to be an offender or becomes a victim. These theories essentially involve the hate crimes and crimes in reference to certain occupations and activities as well (Meier & Meithe, 1993).

The correlation between offenders and victims – a critical analysis

As the theories of criminology and victimology, discussed above, indicates a clear picture of correlation between offenders and victims. If we critically analyze the abovementioned theories in respect to each other, it can be noticed that each of the theories had one common factor which produced both an offender and a victim. The vicious cycle between offender and victim is herein clarified more critically.

As we have discussed herein, in the control theory of crime and Deviant place theory of victimilogy, it can be seen that at the top of the trajectory, social environment is present. To survive the abovementioned social environment, a juvenile becomes a victim of committing an offence. In a ripple effect, such offence affects another person who becomes the victim and in order to survive, he/she commits the same crime as to the first offender. Following the same trajectory path, in the social learning theory and lifestyle theory of victimology, there is a certain social environment at top of the trajectory path which in turn influences a juvenile to become a delinquent and the ripple effect of offender and victim continues. Also, in the third example of theories, certain discrimination towards a culture, race and ethnicity runs the path of the vicious cycle where a person becomes a victim first and an offender second.

Thus, the correlation between an offender and a victim a big vicious cycle where one becomes a victim first and in order to survive injustice, become an offender second and the cycle continues from an early age to adult where a person is already labeled as a habitual offender. Hence, to conclude the critical analysis, it can be said that a victim and an offender is the same person where he/she had been the victim of someone else’s crime and exerts the same acts later on someone else. A victim and an offender is the same person who carries the crime from one person to another.

Psychiatric Theory of Criminal Behavior – Frued and Glueck

The abovementioned critical analysis shall not be concluded unless Freud’s and Glueck’s view of psychiatric theory of criminal behavior is not included. While it can be deducted from the abovementioned analysis that a victim is an offender who carries the crime from one person to another, the same needs a certain psychological mindset along with certain personality division as has been propounded by Freud as ‘id’, ‘ego’ and ‘super ego’ (Fitzpatrick, 1976). Also, according to Glueck’s theory of psychiatric influence in criminal behavior suggests that unhealthy process of a trauma in a victim can give birth to an offender. Thus, the psychiatric condition of a person is essentially questioned under a social environment where other people are also surviving without being an offender or criminal. The abnormal way of processing a certain event or a certain social environment is the missing link between a victim and an offender (Laud & Sampson, 1991). Also, another social scientist, William H. Sheldon is of the view that the physical attribute of a person influences a person to become an offender as well. According to his research herein, a person with stronger physical structure shall be prone to become an offender more than a person with weak and thin body type. Sheldon’s such view also gives us a little critical insight on why men became an avenger more than a woman while woman endures more injustice and crimes against them (Fox, 1962). However, the view of Sheldon was extensively criticized by Sutherland later and Sheldon’s view was labeled as ‘unscientific and archaic’ by Sutherland (Sutherland, 1951).

A critical analysis on whether offenders are born or made bad

If we can combine the abovementioned correlation between victim and offender and the psychiatric theory of criminal behavior herein, it can be critically held that offenders are not born. No child is born with a particular mindset towards attempting offences or become a law-deviant person. It is the cause and effect cycle of the social environment and the innate psychological or mental health of a person herein. Offenders are essentially a product of the society and a victim of the vicious cycle as has been mentioned herein. Poverty, state of unemployment, not getting enough access to mental health care – are some of the reasons why a victim often carries the seeds of crime within him/her.

However, this conclusion shall not be applicable to everyone. While habitual offenders can come under this cloak of conclusion, the serial killers cannot. It is true that serial killers also go through several traumas as a child which triggers a certain mindset herein. But again, the same theory does not apply to everyone such as Ted Bundy who was a pathological liar and a psychopath. Through the research conducted by Bartel, no childhood trauma could be discovered from his life and no proof of social influence was gathered from his life history as well. He had a girlfriend and a happy life until he terrorized the 1970’s America (Bartel, 1998).

Conclusion

The detailed discussion on victimology and criminology and the several theories on crime provide an obvious answer to the given topic herein that offenders are not essentially born. Offenders are essentially the victim of certain social environment or social standard which involves the examples of offences or crimes and young people learns from such behaviors. However, this theory shall not hold for every case of criminals; especially those criminals who are beyond the help of any mental health facility or correctional home. Serial killers or serial sexual offenders are out of this boundary and they shall be counted as an exceptional case of sociopath and hereditary.

The modern theory of criminology essentially focuses on the subject matter of psychological mindset of a criminal and how offenders are psychologically influenced to commit a crime. This theory explores the societal pressure and labeling of a criminal after he has served his/her jail time and how such societal influence pressures him/her in committing the same crime again (Nye, 1978). In simple words, it can be concluded that offenders are essentially the victims of the collective influence of society. Society breaks them and society makes them.

REFERENCE LIST

Akers, R., et. al (1979). Social Learning and Deviant Behavior: A Specific Test of a General Theory. American Sociological Review, 44(4), 636-655

Bartels, K. (1998). Serial Killers: Sublimity to Be Continued. Aesthetics and Criminal History. Amerikastudien / American Studies, 43(3), 497-516

Canals, J. (1960). Classicism, Positivism and Social Defense. The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science, 50(6), 541-550

Fitzpatrick, J. (1976). Psychoanalysis and Crime: A Critical Survey of Salient Trends in the Literature. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 423, 67-74

Fox, V. (1962). Toward an Understanding of Criminal Behavior. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 21(2), 145-158

Glaser, D. (1958). The Sociological Approach to Crime and Correction. Law and Contemporary Problems, 23(4), 683-702.

Laub, J., & Sampson, R. (1991). The Sutherland-Glueck Debate: On the Sociology of Criminological Knowledge. American Journal of Sociology, 96(6), 1402-1440

Meier, R., & Miethe, T. (1993). Understanding Theories of Criminal Victimization. Crime and Justice, 17, 459-499

Musmanno, M. (1925), The Italian Positive School of Criminology, American Bar Association Journal, 11(7), 427-430

Nye, R. (1978). Crime in Modern Societies: Some Research Strategies for Historians. Journal of Social History, 11(4), 491-507

Sutherland, E. (1951). Critique of Sheldon's Varieties of Delinquent Youth. American Sociological Review, 16(1), 10-13

Thorlindsson, T., & Bernburg, J. (2004). Durkheim's Theory of Social Order and Deviance: A Multi-Level Test. European Sociological Review, 20(4), 271-285

Void, G.B (1951), “Criminology at the cross road”, The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology & Police Science, 42(2)

Wolfgang, M. (1963), Criminology and the Criminologist, The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science, 54(2), 155-162

Introduction

The concept of vulnerable in an unequal socio-economic society is not just hard to ascertain but hardest to regulate. While the term vulnerability essentially directs us to a psychological definition, this narrow attribution to vulnerability often confuses the administration of a country to take proper action in favor of the people who actually needs it. Vulnerability is a subject matter of an underlying inequality and injustice which discriminates the society on the basis of ethnicity, color, age, race, culture and gender. In a society that infiltrates the minds of the citizens with discrimination and hate towards other race and color to disrupt a harmonious living, it is not hard to identify and understand the vulnerable need of a person or a group of people. However, the prejudiced view that is attached to these people often blocks them from getting the proper help and the continuous failure on part of the government to provide essential care to the vulnerable is gradually creating a hole in the criminal justice system.

Thus, for the purpose the given topic, vulnerability shall essentially take on the meaning of being suppressed as a group of minority in a country. Herein, we shall ascertain the importance of the administration and the police to take proper care of the vulnerable, why vulnerable victim and witness care is of extreme necessity, how MAPPA is targeting at creating a better environment for the vulnerable people and a critical analysis.

Who is the vulnerable? – A personal approach to vulnerability

However, from the view point of the United Kingdom’s government, vulnerable people shall be those people who are the suppressed minority of the community and often discriminated on the basis of their gender, age, race, color and culture. Thus, a personal approach to vulnerability can be defined as the victimization by the dominant group of the society and the when such victimization affects the mental and physical well-being of the concerned person. The personal approach to vulnerability can also be called as the victimized vulnerability (Nettlebeck & Wilson, 2002).

Why is it important for the police to adopt better protection policy towards the vulnerable people in UK?

The police administration has a statutory duty (Ford, 2002) under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984 to protect the vulnerable and if the vulnerable person in question is a child below the age of 18 years, it is the duty of the police to contact a proper AA (Appropriate Adult) under the PACE code of practice herein as well. However, unlike the child protection, no such vulnerability protection has been made a statutory duty of the Police in the United Kingdom which often leaves the vulnerable people of other groups exposed in the hands of the abusers. From a clinical research, (National Appropriate Adult Network, 2015), it has been shown that more than 39% adults who had been taken into police custody, suffered from mental disorder and in lack of any proper statutory duty, no proper step was taken the police authority herein. Thus, the reasons why it is important for the police to take proper care of the vulnerable have been listed below:

The risk of unfair process

Victims of abusive household or domestic violence are often scared to take proper step for help. They might visit a police station but they might be susceptible to leave under rash interrogation (Hoyle & Sanders, 2000). Also, people with mental disorders who have been subjected to any kind of abuse in the nature of assault, might be eager to please or might have difficulty processing all the information regarding an event happened with them.

Poor assessment to approach AA

It has been seen from a survey conducted by McKinnon and Grubin (2013, 2014), only 3.1% of the vulnerable adults, who had severe mental disorder, were only provided with AA (Appropriate Adult) and more than 25.6% of the vulnerable people who were taken into custody reportedly had psychosis, intellectual disability and lack of capability to consent due to partial insanity herein.

3. Safeguard victims of honor based violence

The safeguard towards victims of family coercion or intimidation needs better protection system from the police as in most of the cases the person in need is a child below the age of 18 years and their AA might be in a position of authority and the violence often hits the blind spot of the police administration (Ford, 2002).

4. CSE or Child Sexual Exploitation

As it has been mentioned under the College of Policing, 2017b (Ford, 2002), the incidents of CSE is on a rise in United Kingdom and in a number of cases, the child is sexually exploited by his/her close relative or the appointed AA herein. Thus, the police needs better reform policies to adapt to such needs.

Victim and witness care – the significance of better protecting system to victims and witnesses in reference to a case law

Although witness tampering is very rare in United Kingdom and under section 51 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994, any person involved with any witness tampering shall be prosecuted for a prison of six months or fine or both. However, in reference to the famous case R v. Davis, [2008] UKHL 36, the jurists allowed the witness to provide statement and evidence anonymously as it was reported that the witness had been tampered by the defendant herein. In this instant case study, Ian Davis was charged with murders of two people at a party and for trial, he was extradited from United States. The prosecutor submitted the plea of witness tampering by the defendant and the plea was subsequently accepted by Lord Roger herein. The witnesses in this particular case gave their statements under pseudonyms to avoid any threats to their lives.

Thus, in reference to the abovementioned case study herein, the significance of witness and victim care can be ascertained herein. Under paragraph 4.14(c) of the Code for Crown Prosecutors, several rights have been attached under the rights of the witness and the victims of any criminal prosecution. However, in respect to the societal view, the significance of victim and witness care is listed as follows:

1. The victims and witness who belong to a vulnerable group i.e. who have been recently abused by the defendant or who is a child or a victim who is threatened due to his/her ethnicity, race or color herein, no statutory protection has been given. Measuring the hate crimes in relation to racism and domestic violence case against women, victim and witness should be taken care of in a better way (Fyfe & Mckay, 2000).

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2. According to the research paper of Fyfe and Mckay (2000), proper victim and witness care are directly attached to the proper delivery of justice. If the victim or the witness is threatened and as a result of the victim or the witness drops the case, it only gives a false statistics to the criminal cases of UK herein (Home office- the Stern review, 2010).

3. Victim and witness protection expresses better policy to adapt to vulnerability care program which only exists for the child care only and not for the vulnerable adult.

The role of MAPPA and Criminal Justice system in vulnerability care policy

1. Mukti Agency Public Protection Arrangement, 2001

Established in the year of 2001, MAPPA or Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangement strives to provide a safe place to the victims or the vulnerable people subjected to any abuse herein. MAPPA in collaboration with several National Agencies and MARAC provides excellent care to domestic violence victims and the victims also get special treatment from the domestic abuse practitioner as well. The guidelines of MARAC are excellent in providing a careful examination of a distressed victim and proper care and services are thereby arranged for the victim herein (SafeLives Dash Board).

However, MAPPA has many limitations to their services as well. One of such limitation is the lack of stuff in their agency which makes it hard for the victims to get proper help. According to a paper published by Wood (2012), it has been seen that level 3 MAPPA cases have often been reconvicted by the court herein. The lack of transparency is evident is MAPPA. Also, the MARAC dashboard where a victim needs to score 14 or above to get proper help is unjustified as it does not consider the psychological torture herein (SafeLives Dash Board).

2. The Criminal Justice System

As it has been mentioned earlier, under 4.14(c) of the Code for Crown Prosecutors, victims and witnesses have been given special rights to provide statements in court without getting intimidated by defendant, the criminal justice system has several statutory duties for the police under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984. The criminal justice system of the country also allows witnesses to give statement anonymously or under pseudonyms (R v. Davis, [2008] UKHL 36). Also, as per section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act of 1999, a child can provide a pre-recorded statement to the court in order to evade the trauma of facing the defendant and such procedures are carefully being followed in cases of Child Sexual Protection. The defendant might exert a position of authority and thus intimidate the child which has provoked the lawmakers to make such rights in order to make the justice system fair.

Serious Organized Crime and Public Protection – a critical analysis with respect to vulnerability protection

The serious organized crimes in United Kingdom are one of the most important issues against the vulnerability protection issue. The vulnerable adults are prone to many organized crimes such as child trafficking, sex rackets, human trafficking etc. Most of these organized crimes legitimize their business by investing in different pubs, restaurant etc. and the vulnerable groups of the country are most hit by this crime statistics (Heinrich et al, 2013).

This, if we critically analyze the policies towards the vulnerable group, it can be said that the protection measures taken against the vulnerable people lacks proper goals. It is not only the function of the court to provide right protection to their witnesses and victims but also the government’s. Thus, proper statutory body should be published and proper administrative functions for better protection of the vulnerable groups should be affirmed herein.

Conclusion

In concluding the abovementioned topic, it can be said that in view of the today’s cyber crimes and serious organizational crime, taking the shape of the virtual world is scary and the vulnerable people are mostly targeted by that. The numerous cases of domestic abuse, child trafficking, bullying etc. mostly start at the virtual world and the vulnerable people often fall prey in the hands of these criminals. Thus, in the 21st century, if the country wants to establish a better policing system, it should carefully examine the world of cyber crime first. Better policing on the internet and better warning against internet dating should be announced and government should establish better statutory bodies to provide enough controls in the hands of the police to tackle such matters. Along with better screening program, the vulnerability groups need to be taught better with social welfare programs. The police station should be mapped with certain jurisdiction to track the vulnerable group of people in their area. Also, better patrolling at night, more accountability amongst the police officers and more statutory body is needed to give proper guidelines in this subject matter herein. Better protection of rights for mentally ill or challenged people and better provision of people who is suffering from any mental disorder should be provided by legal statue. Along with physical help, financially help should also be given to these vulnerable groups of people and the government should work on a better monetary scheme herein. The battle of protecting the vulnerable groups is going to be tougher with every passing day. Thus, in order to maintain the charts of the crime in the UK, the government better start preparing now.

REFERENCE LIST

Ford, K. et al. (2020) ‘Understanding the outcome of police safeguarding notifications to social services in South Wales’, The Police Journal, 93(2), pp. 87–108

Fyfe, N., & McKay, H. (2000). DESPERATELY SEEKING SAFETY: Witnesses' Experiences of Intimidation, Protection and Relocation. The British Journal of Criminology, 40(4), 675-691

Home Office, The Stern Review: A report by Baroness Vivien Stern CBE of an independent review into how rape complaints are handled by public authorities in England and Wales (March 2010)

Hoyle, C., & Sanders, A. (2000). POLICE RESPONSE TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: From Victim Choice to Victim Empowerment? The British Journal of Criminology, 40(1), 14-36

Heinrich et al. (2013). Transnational Organized Crime: Analyses of a Global Challenge to Democracy; Transcript Verlag, 1st edn, Bielefeld

McKinnon I, Grubin D (2014), Evidence-Based Risk Assessment Screening in Police Custody: The HELP-PC Study in London, UK; Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 8(2), 174-182.

Nettelbeck, T., & Wilson, C. (2002). Personal Vulnerability to Victimization Of People With Mental Retardation. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 3(4), 289-306

R v. Davis, [2008] UKHL 36 (London)

‘SafeLives Dash risk checklist for the identification of high risk cases of domestic abuse, stalking and ‘honour’-based violence’ accessed on 28th June, 2021

Vulnerable Adults, (2015), National Appropriate Adult Network < https://www.appropriateadult.org.uk/policy/vulnerable-adults > [accessed on 28th June, 2021]

Wood, J. (2012) ‘MAPPA Level 3 offenders: Reconviction as a measure of effectiveness’, Probation Journal, 59(2), pp. 111–123

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