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May 16, 2018 / C H Thompson

Left realism and crime – revision notes with evaluative points

Left realists aim to provide solutions to the problem of crime.

  • Kinsey, Lea and Young (1986) argue that the police need to spend less time policing and controlling crime, and spend more time just investigating crime
  • Left realists argue that policing must be made more responsible for and become more involved with local communities and must deal with more local concerns
  • They should improve their relationship with local communities by spending more time investigating crime and by changing their priorities
  • Crime control should involve a multi-agency approach which includes agencies as well as voluntary organisations.
  • Another left realist solution is to tackle structural issues as the causes of crime that primarily lie in the unequal structure of society
  • and major structural changes are needed in order to reduce the levels of offending
  • Strong communities need to be built, there should be neighbourhood policing and a more community control when it comes to policing.
  • Young et al argues that we need to deal with the social inequalities of society such as the unfairness of rewards and the inequality of opportunity. For example to provide decent housing and jobs.

Evaluation of Left Realism and crime

(+) It succeeded in drawing attention to the reality of street crime and its effects.

(-) Henry and Milovanovic argue that it accepts the authorities’ definition of crime as being street crime that is committed by the poor. Marxists also argue that it ignores the importance of corporate and white-collar crimes which is often much more harmful.

(-) Left realists rely on quantitative data from official statistics for their research. Interactionists would argue that we instead need to look into qualitative data in order to reveal the meanings behind the actions committed.

(-) The theory is too soft on the criminal as it doesn’t explain how the criminals should be dealt with.

(-) It focuses too much on inner-city high crime areas which gives an unrepresentative view, making crime appear as a greater problem than it is.

(-) The theory of relative deprivation has been criticised for being overly deterministic as relative deprivation doesn’t always lead individuals to crime.

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