The majority of research conducted on the link between the unemployment and criminal behaviour has proven to be inconsistent and contradictory. This essay is going to analyse the current studies that have looked at this relationship and will try to summarise the strength between the two.
Any relationship between unemployment and criminal behaviour poses many methodological problems. There are limitations with statistics concerning its accuracy in both areas. Not all crime is recorded and criminal statistics are widely disputed as being incorrect. There are various reasons for this such as the dark figure of crime, unreported crimes and low understanding of crimes amongst people. There is a variety of different definitions and figures for unemployment meaning it can be difficult to interpret. Both of the sets of data are considered ‘faulty’.
A way that the link between unemployment and criminal behaviour could be studied is by looking at how many people are in the prisons, who were employed before their sentence. However there are a lot of factors that can interfere within the imprisonment of the unemployed, for example police may target the unemployed as they are more likely to be on the streets. It is perceived that the young and unemployed are more likely to be criminals. Areas characterised by high unemployment may also be seen as ‘problem areas’. The employment status of a defendant may affect decisions made in the criminal justice process, i.e. the courts may defer an employed person sentence; therefore interfering with the statistics collected.
Studies have been carried out, comparing economic depression and prosperity. The rationale for these studies is the expectation is that crime rates would rise during economic downturns because of the increase of poor people. However many studies find that crime doesn’t increase during a recession. Home office study, field (1990) concluded that unemployment did not have a separate effect on crime rates. The study showed a stronger relationship between crime and personal consumption, for example more spending, the less crime.
During a recession, the economy comes to a slow down and this is categorised by different factors such as growing unemployment, which as a result people will be buying less stuff and business’ will suffer and there could be an unhealthy stock market. As a result of a recession it would be expected that crimes such as theft, robberies and drug...