Right Realism

Right realism sees crime as a growing problem. Right realists believe other theories have failed to solve the problem of crime. They regard the labelling theory and critical criminology and too sympathetic to the criminal and hostile to the police and courts. They are mainly concerned with the practical solutions to reduce crime. In their view, the best way to do to is through control and punishment, rather than rehabilitating offenders or tacking causes such a poverty.

The Causes of Crime

RR reject the idea that structural or economic factors such a poverty are the cause of crime; they point out that the old tend to be poor yet have very low crime rate. Crime is the product of three factors, biological differences, inadequate socialisation and the underclass, and rational choice to offend.

1 Biological Differences

According to Wilson and Herrnstein, crime is caused by a combination of biological and social factors. Biological differences between individuals make people innately predisposed to commit crime, due to personality traits such as aggressiveness, risk taking or low intelligence which RR see as biological determined. Social factors come in to play such as triggers to commit crime such as there being a fight and getting involved or having little or no material capital.

2 The underclass

Effective socialisation decreases the risk of offending by teaching self-control and correct values. RR see the nuclear family as the best agency of socialisation. However, according to Murray, the nuclear family is being undermined by the welfare state, which is creating welfare dependency and encouraging the growth of an underclass who fail to socialise their children properly. Generous welfare provision has left to the growth of benefit-dependent lone families since men no longer need to take responsibility for supporting their families. Absent fathers mean that boys lack discipline and an appropriate role model so they turn to gangs and gain status through crime rather than through supporting their family.

3 Rational Choice Theory

Clarkes rational choice theory assumes individuals are rational beings with free will. Deciding to commit crime is a choice based on a rational calculation of the consequence. If the rewards of the crime appear to outweigh the costs, then people ill be more likely to offend. RR argue that the crime rate is high because they perceived costs are low, for example, the risk of being caught. But how can criminals be both rational actors freely choosing crimes, while simultaneously their behaviour is determined by their biology and socialisation?

Felson’s routine activity theory argues that for crime to occur, there must be a motivated offended, a suitable target and the absence of a capable guardian. Offenders act rationally, so the presence of a guardian is likely to deter them.

Solutions to crime

RR believe it is pointless trying to tackle the underlying causes of crime since they are hard to change. Instead, they focus on the control and punishment of offenders. Wilson and Kelling argue that we must keep neighbourhoods orderly to prevent crime taking hold. Any sign of graffiti must be dealt with immediately (Broken Window Thesis). They advocate ‘zero tolerance’ policing- it was claimed a success after its introduction in New York.

Crime prevention policies should reduce the rewards of crime and increase its costs e.g. target hardening and more use of prison. However, zero tolerance policies allow police to discriminate against ethnic minority, the youth, the homeless etc. they also result in displacement of crime to other areas.

Criticisms of Right Realism

It ignores structural causes of crime, e.g. poverty. It is concerned almost solely with street crime, ignoring corporate crime, which is more costly and harmful to the public, it over emphasises control of disorderly neighbourhoods, ignoring underlying causes of neighbourhood decline. Young argues that crime was already falling before ZTP came in, police then boosted their arrest rat by defining deviance up- arresting people for minor deviant acts.