Criminological Theory: Explaining Crime

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Criminological Theory: Explaining Crime Within the field of criminology, a number of theories exist that attempt to explain why some people commit crime. This essay will look at how the subcultural theories and control theories try to explain why some people commit the specific crimes of shoplifting and theft offences other than burglary. Statistics for these offences are categorised by the Home Office under the heading ‘other theft offences’, which includes “a range of offences, including shoplifting and abstraction of electricity” and does not include burglary, theft of a motor vehicle or theft from a motor vehicle (Home Office, 2011, p. 7). In the 12 months leading up to December 2010 there were 1,057,720 instances of ‘other theft offences’ recorded in the UK, a 1% increase on the previous year’s statistics (Home Office, 2011, p. 7). In the same time frame 28,818 ‘other theft offences’ were recorded in the local authority of Portsmouth, a decrease of 4.5% on the previous year (Home Office, 2011). Shoplifting in particular has increased sharply since the start of the recession (Crimestoppers, 2010) and the value of goods being stolen has risen by 20% (Crimestoppers, 2009). One set of theories that attempts to explain criminality are the subcultural theories. One of the first subcultural theories was Albert Cohen’s (1955) theory of delinquency, which he developed through researching gangs in Chicago (Muncie, 2005, p. 427). Cohen’s theory outlined a number of major features of subcultures of delinquency. He determined that much of the crimes committed by gangs are not driven by profit or monetary gain and that the members of these gangs actively reject the dominant values, held by most of society (Newburn, 2007, p. 197). He also stated that those within subcultures of delinquency do not specialise in any particular delinquent act and that the acts they commit

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