Eventhough crime always has been a dilemma, it is still an enormous problem in nowadays society. What is criminality? What different kinds of criminal offences are there? Why do people commit a crime? What are possible solutions for criminality in the future? Is the DNA-database a possible solution? We’ll answer all these questions in our presentation about criminality.
Crime is the breaking of rules or laws for which some governing authority can prescribe a conviction. Each individual human society may define criminality differently.
While every crime violates the law, not every violation of the law counts as a crime. For example breaches of contract and other civil law may rank as ‘offences’ or ‘intractions’.
Criminality has different forms:
Aggressive criminality against public order and authority, such as assault and vandalism.
Sexual criminality such as rape or sexual assault
Property criminality such as theft
Criminality in traffic such as driving under influence of alcohol or drugs, hit-and-run (someone leaving the scene of an accident)
Other criminality such as the Opium Act, Firearms act and military criminal law.
Criminality in the Netherlands Some forms of crimes in the Netherlands have a priority. For example bicycle theft is not a big threat for the Dutch society because it causes not a lot of harm. The following forms of crime have a priority and are a threat to the Dutch society:
The site of the Netherlands is the main reason for criminals to operate in the Netherlands. Take for example Schiphol and the harbour of Rotterdam. Criminal activities take place in the Netherlands because of its open borders, highly developed trade system, the favorable financial climate and the international oriëntation.
On friday the 23th of januari 2009 there was a knifing in the crèche Fabeltjesland in Sint-Gillis-bij-Dendermonde in Belgium. There were 3 fatalities and 12 wounded, among them a number of babies. The suspect, called Kim De Gelder, 20 years old, was arrested shortly after the crime.
De Gelder’s lawyer argued during the trial that his client’s actions can not be charged. He said that De Gelder was in psychosis while committing the crimes.
The Gelder said that he wanted to take revenge to society, which has been too hard for him.
If we’re talking about crime, there must be some explanation behind the people who commit crimes. Why do they commit a crime? Just a bad youth, or is there more behind this?
Firstly, something about your life. On a normal day, there are always things that go wrong. You have not made your homework, you have not learned for an unexpected test, your parents want you to do something you don’t want, so they get angry, all of these things. You and me take them as “That’s life.” You have learned to cope with these things. According to Stanton Samenow, criminals don’t have such thinking. They see everything which goes wrong as their fault. If you are confronted all day with disappointment and frustration, you will get frustrated yourself. An anger starts to arise within you, and that anger is the cause for crime. Criminals try to lose this anger by committing crimes, to give their frustration to others.1
However, this can’t be the only reason why there are criminals. There is more. A second cause could well be the self-concept of persons. There are two different self-concepts: a positive and a negative one. If someone has a negative self-concept, feels like the world doesn’t care about him or her, then there well might be a chance that they fall into criminality. Depression can also be a factor, which follows from the negative self-concept. They might feel life has no meaning anymore, and so they commit crimes, because no-one cares about them. Their life is already meaningless.
Thirdly, stress. In modern society, stress plays a big role. Almost everyone has stress. If someone has too much stress, someone might get angry or completely mad. And then they might be able to commit a crime.
Personality disorders might play a role as well. If someone has a personality which isn’t accepted by society, that person might get angry or get a negative self-concept. Some get depressed. As written before, those persons are well able to commit crimes. 2
A bad childhood might be a factor as well. Some persons don’t feel import, feel like they are no-ones and that nobody cares about them. They are also thinking negative about themselves. This is, like described before, a cause for criminality.
And then there is another argument to find in evolution. Statistics show that men commit more crimes than women, and that man who are in the reproduction phase or who are unmarried are more likely to commit a crime. This can be explained by fear for the outside world. Like other animals, reproduction is important for a species. Everyone wants to give life to children, so they may be more aggressive in order to get children. If someone feels threatened, they are capable of doing more than normally. In the other case, of the unmarried men, it might be caused by showing the women what they dare and what they can do. 3
But, as we have learned by social studies, there can be some other explanations. In short the theories of chapter 1:
The biological theories, which believe that criminals are people who look for stimuli. They find this in committing crimes.
The bonding theory of Mr. Travis Hirschi talks about the social bonds which are important for criminals. Criminals might not have such strong social bonds.
The learned behaviour theory talks about the fact that criminality might be learned through the neighbourhood. If one lives in a bad neighbourhood, someone might commit crimes earlier.
The personality theory of Freud thinks it’s about the personality, with the id, the ego and the superego. If one of these gets disturbed, criminality might be the consequence.
And the last theory is the anomie theory. This theory talks about reaching goals in life. If someone doesn’t succeed in reaching those goals in life, one might fall into crime to reach those goals anyway.4
These are all theories which might explain why certain people commit crimes and why others don’t. However, there are three other factors which are very important:
There must be a desire to do something. This might be an unreached goal in life, or maybe anger, and the criminal feels that he/she has to put the blame on others.
Someone must have skills to commit a crime. If someone is going to perform a burglary in a house, he/she has to have some skills to do that, otherwise this person gets caught immediately. In a murder case, the person has to have the strength in mind to kill another person.
There must be an opportunity. For instance, the persons who live in a house are away for an evening. Or the killer has made an appointment with someone, so he/she can kill this person.5
There are probably more theories and points which have to be met, but these are some of the things which might be the case in a lot of crimes.
How to prevent crime (DNA-database) - Presentation with Chris and Emma
Now that we know what criminality actually means and what it might derive from, we can figure out how to prevent it. Research bodies and commissions such as the World Health Organization, United Nations, UK Audit Commission and others have thought about this to, as they analyzed prevention theories from criminologists such as McKenzie, Eck, Sherman, Waller and others. These analyses resulted in a number of reports to be set up in 2003. Highlights of these reports were e.g.:
- action plan for violence prevention
- improve collected data on violence
- strengthen responses for victims of violence
- social and educational policies (gender/social equality)
- promote international treaties/laws to protect human rights
3 Factors must appear together for a crime to occur:
1. a desire to participate in a banned behaviour
2. skills/tools to commit the crime
3. an opportunity
To prevent these 3 factors appear together, there exist 4 prevention theories:
- Primary prevention: address individual level, to prevent possible later criminal participation
promotion of attachment to school, involvement in social activities decrease probability of criminal involvement
- Secondary prevention: uses techniques focussing on risk situations (youth dropped out of school, gangs). Measurements they take are e.g. social programs or law enforcement in neighbourhoods with high criminal rate
- Tertiary prevention: used after a crime has occurred in order to prevent incidents like this. Measurements according to tertiary prevention are new security policies. (like with 9/11)
- Situational prevention: uses techniques focussing on reducing opportunity to commit a crime
SGP (Situational Crime Prevention: focuses, in contrast to normal criminology, on the criminal setting. When it understands the circumstances that allow a crime, it can take measurements to prevent it, e.g. by increasing difficulty of crime; increasing risks of crime; and reducing rewards of crime. They especially use modern technology, like computers, to achieve their goals, and to fight computer criminality.
This is a lot of theory, so now I will give a current example of crime prevention in the Netherlands: namely the possible future DNA-database. The cause of this idea starts the 1st May 1999, when Marianne Vaatstra, a 16 year old girl in the Dutch province Friesland, cycled home from a disco. She was raped and strangled by a still unknown man. The police found very little DNA material on her body, but their possible suspect (an asylum seeker from Turkey) did not match this DNA. A little while later, another 200 men’s DNA was tested, but none of them appeared to match. Peter R. de Vries, a well-known crimereporter, accused the Dutch government after the case was closed, with support of Marianne Vaatstra’s parents. He demanded further DNA investigation on all men 20 - 45 years old living 15 kilometres from the crime scene from the 1st of May or earlier. The government did not do this.
This was the first time when the plan of a DNA-database, containing the DNA of everyone in the Netherlands, came into discussion. It would help a lot solving cases like this: the police would only have to compare the DNA on Vaatstra’s body with the DNA from the database, and a match could be found in just a couple of days. I will give some possible pros and cons about this DNA-database.
Advantages: - criminals like Marianne Vaatstra’s would be found and arrested lots earlier
- scientists can do more effective investigation on different hereditary diseases
- TV programmes like ‘Spoorloos’ would not be necessary anymore: one can easily find a lost family member back because of the database
Disadvantages: - people will be sort of forced to submit their DNA (90% wants it anyway, though)
- DNA contains extremely personal data, which assurance companies might misuse
- when you do not insist on giving your DNA, you will be seen as a ‘suspect’
- when a mistake occurs, and DNA gets mixed up so that an innocent person will be seen as a murderer, it would be disastrous
- smart criminals might misuse this, and leave someone else’s DNA at a crime scene
Because of these disadvantages, there is no agreement yet on the introduction of the DNA database. Personally, I believe the cons do not weigh up the pros, and therefore a DNA-database could only be useful in future. Anyway one thing is sure: Marianne Vaatstra’s murderer is arrested the 18th of November 2012. The 6th of December, Jasper S. confessed he raped and murdered her - 11 years after he committed the crime.