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Most English People Are Criminals 2007-06-26

Posted by clype in Articles of Interest, Statistics.
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Almost two-thirds of people in ‘England & Wales’ regularly commit petty crimes, according to a report, challenging the notion that that country is made up of a law-abiding, respectable majority.

A survey by researchers at ‘Keele University‘ found that 61 per cent of people they questioned had committed one of a variety of crimes.

These ranged from paying cash in hand to avoid taxation, keeping money when given too much change, taking something from work or avoiding paying their TV licence.

Of those who confessed to breaking the law, 62 per cent said they had committed up to three crimes while 10 per cent admitted nine or more offences.

The report, based on a survey of just over 1 800 people aged between 25 and 65, said the findings cast doubt on what politicians liked to describe as a ‘law-abiding majority’.

‘Although the middle classes are engaging in this type of behaviour, they are also eager to blame when they find themselves victims of such behaviour,’ said the report, published by ‘The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies‘ at King’s College, London.

‘Consumers are sheep and wolves — easy prey and preying on others. Offending and victimisation are as closely and intricately linked at the core of society as at its margins.’

It concluded that most people do not believe in the value of laws and rules, and shrugged them off in the pursuit of their interests and desires.

‘They even regard law-abidingness as a disadvantage,’ it said.

‘Contempt for The Law is as widespread in the centre of society as it is assumed to be rampant at the margins and amongst specific marginal groups,’ said Professor Susanne Karstedt, one of the report’s authors.

‘Neither greed nor need can explain why respectable citizens cheat on insurance claims or in second hand sales — and do not hesitate to discuss their exploits with friends in pubs.’

Press Release

News highlights : Middle class crime

25 June 2007, PR 94/07

Nearly two-thirds of consumers regularly commit a range of offences against business, government and their employers according to a new report published today by ‘The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London’.

The report, ‘Law-abiding majority? The everyday crimes of the middle classes’ is based on research which found that 61 per cent of people had committed one of various offences including: paying cash in hand to avoid taxation; keeping money when given too much change; wrongly using and swapping identity cards for their own gain, and cheating in second-hand sales.

Based on a survey of 1 807 people in teh country of ‘England & Wales’ aged between 25 and 65, the research by Professor Susanne Karstedt and Dr Stephen Farrall of Keele University found that:

  • A third (34 per cent) paid cash in hand to avoid taxation
  • Just under a third (32 per cent) kept money when ‘over-changed’
  • Around one in five (18 per cent) had taken something from work
  • One in ten (11 per cent) avoided paying their TV licence
  • One in ten (11 per cent) wrongly used identity cards for their own gain
  • Just under one in ten (8 per cent) did not disclose faulty goods in second hand sales
  • Seven per cent padded an insurance claim
  • Six per cent asked a friend in bureaucracy to ‘bend the rules’
  • Five per cent claimed for refunds they knew they weren’t entitled to

Of those who admitted to an offence nearly two thirds (62 per cent) committed up to three and 10 per cent admitted nine or more offences.

The research also examined levels of victimisation amongst the sample and found that eight out of ten (82 per cent) felt they had been victims of crimes or shady practices such as being sold poor quality pre-packed food, having items added to bills, being sold holiday packages that did not deliver and being cheated in second-hand sales.

Average citizens

According to the research both offenders and victims are mostly ‘average citizens’ with high level offenders/victims coming from the middle classes and the ‘respectable’.

The report concludes that: ‘The “law-abiding majority” which politicians like to address, is a chimera. The law-abiding majority not only do not abide by the law, they also do not believe in the value of laws and rules, shrugging them off in pursuit of their interests and desires. They even regard law-abidingness as a disadvantage.’

A copy of Law-abiding majority? The everyday crimes of the middle classes by Professor Susanne Karstedt and Dr Stephen Farrall is available at: www.kcl.ac.uk/ccjs

Professor Susanne Karstedt, says:

‘Contempt for the law is as widespread in the centre of society as it is assumed to be rampant at the margins and amongst specific marginal groups. Anti-social behaviour by the few is mirrored by anti-civil behaviour by the many. Neither greed nor need can explain why respectable citizens cheat on insurance claims or in second hand sales, and do not hesitate to discuss their exploits with friends in pubs.’

Dr Stephen Farrall comments:

‘What we find in our research is a strong tendency amongst consumers to ‘hit back’ when they feel treated unfairly by big and small business, even by illegal means. More important however, are selfish attitudes: these are responsible for consumers exploiting illegal opportunities whenever these offer themselves. It is the values and the behaviour of those at the centre of society that are indicative of the moral state of our society, perhaps much more so than violent and other street crimes.’

The Director of ‘The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies’, Richard Garside, said:

‘Politicians from across the political spectrum regularly claim that most crime is committed by a hard core of offenders, largely drawn from low income groups. This research demonstrates that volume crime is far more widespread, with the middle class being responsible for a wide range of illegal activities. The reasons for this are complex, and relate to the fundamental social changes in British society over the past thirty years.’

To arrange interviews with the authors or further information contact:
Will McMahon: 020 7848 1695 or 07968 950 223
Enver Solomon 020 7848 1997 or 07939 221 381
Notes to editors

1. The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College London is an independent charity that informs and educates about all aspects of crime and criminal justice. It provides information, produce research and carry out policy analysis to encourage and facilitate an understanding of the complex nature of issues concerning crime.

2. ‘Law-abiding majority? The everyday crimes of the middle classes’ by Professor Susanne Karstedt and Dr Stephen Farrall is published as part of ‘The Crime and Society project, policy development project of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies’. It aims to stimulate debate about the limitations of criminal justice and promote alternative perspectives on social harm, crime and social policy.

3. The views expressed in the report are those of the authors and not necessarily those of ‘The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies’.

4. ‘King’s College London’ is the fourth oldest university in England with more than 13 700 undergraduates and nearly 5 600 graduate students in nine schools of study based at five London campuses. It is a member of ‘The Russell Group’: a coalition of the UK’s major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by ‘The Quality Assurance Agency’.

King’s has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, international relations, medicine, nursing and the sciences, and has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres – more than any other university.

King’s is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of more than 110 million GBP, and has an annual income of more than 387 million GBP.

Further information
Melanie Gardner, Public Relations Office, King’s College London
Tel: 020 7848 3073 Email: melanie.gardner@kcl.ac.uk

25 June 2007, PR 94/07.

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