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26 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (1987)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj26 and id is 1 raw text is: 


The Howard Journal Vol 26 No 1. Feb 87
ISSN 0265-5527



   Law and Order and the Causes of

      Crime: Some Police and Public

                        Perspectives



             SANDRA JONES and MICHAEL LEVI
    Sandra Jones is Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Community
                    and Race Relations, Brunel University
         Michael Levi is Lecturer in Criminology, Department of Social
                 Administration, University College, Cardiff

Abstract: The degree of congruence among the public and between 'police' and 'public' in
attitudes to law and order has been a matter of considerable debate in England and Wales. This
article presents some previously unpublished survey data in the context of a general review of
research on this topic, and goes on to discuss police and public views about crime causation as a
reflection of ideological 'domain assumptions' about the nature of offending. It concludes that
although there are broad similarities in perspective between police and public, this homogeneity
begins to break down when the data are disaggregated at a local level. It also questions the
revival of a purely reactive model of policing as an 'ideal type'for the inner city.

As  the  'official' agents of order maintenance, crime  prevention,  and
detection, the police are often at the forefront of the political debate about
law and  order. Much   of the concern about the growing  influence of the
police has focused upon  relationships between  chief officers, politicians,
and  the media  (Hall  1979; Norton  1984; Pearson   1983; Reiner  1985).
However,   without denying  the significance of these changes, this article
will concentrate upon  the lower ground  in reviewing two  aspects of the
law and  order issue: public and police views about policing; and public
and  police views about  crime causation. The  justification for reviewing
police-public disparities of views about policing is that they are critical not
only to those who  advocate greater accountability but also because even
the most  'independent-minded'  police officer would recognise that their
existence  creates a  'communications   problem'.  The  justification for
analysing views about crime causation is that they reflect the way different
sectors of society allocate blame for 'the crime problem'. Irrespective of the
'correctness' of public (or police) opinions about  crime causation, the
blaming  process both is the product of and influences responses to crime.

           Ideology  and  Public  Opinion:  Use  and  Misuse
Great  rhetorical significance is attached by politicians, criminal justice
professionals, and radical activists to the importance of public views in

                                   I

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