Why does the public love the idea of crime? Crime, as defined by the Oxford dictionary is “An action or omission which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law” (Oxford, n.d). Committing a crime is immoral, yet when we see it spread across the front pages of a newspaper stand we are instantly engaged. We always rely on the media for the latest scoop but are we reading reality or what the media wants us to read. Crime and the media are interlocking subjects that many criminologists views differ over but how strong is the relationship and does the media actively mold crime itself or societies own views?
Currently crime is decreasing. In March 2013, the annual crime statistics showed that figures have dropped by 7% from the previous year now standing at around 3.7 million crimes recorded throughout England and Wales. This is said to be the lowest rate since 2002/2003 (Crime stats, 2013). This could be due to the advancements in technology e.g. CCTV and even policing. However, half of these offences were theft related. As technology advances, theft increases. Social class is an important factor in today’s society and no one wants to be seen as being ‘poor’. As unemployment rates have increased over the years, people find it easier to turn to crime rather than to get a job.
The media tend to stereotype those who are unemployed, for example, youths that do not have a job (especially those from lower income areas) are usually considered to be ‘Chavs’. The Telegraph (2008) says “Many people use ‘Chav’ as a smokescreen for their hatred of the lower classes”. This links to mass society theory. The theory was established after the Second World War and, in this instance, ‘Chavs’ can be seen as the ’common people’ who are “Characterized by their alienation of moral and ethical values” (Jewkes, 2011, p.11).
The media create moral panics from this sort of stereotyping. According to Stanley Cohen (1980, p.9) a moral panic is “A condition, episode, person or group of persons that emerge to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests”. This can be related to the hoodie banning epidemic in 2005. Bluewater shopping Centre in Kent decided to ban the wearing of hooded tops, baseball caps and offensive clothing in order to crack down on anti-social behavior (BBC News, 2005). This created a moral panic as hoodies became related to anti-social behavior which branded everyone in a hoodie a ‘criminal’. It made youth culture look bad and, as the mass media reported it, more and more places banned them.
In his book, Stanley Cohen (1980, p.10) spoke about the moral panics cause by the Mods and Rockers in the 1960s. He says “These groups have occupied a constant position as folk devils; visible reminders of what we should not be”. The violent and drug fuelled actions from the Mods and Rockers (portrayed by the media and especially the film Quadrophenia in 1979) is one of the things that the sixties will be remembered for. The moral panic created by...