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Poverty and crime

How much does poverty make someone crime-prone? Watch this video led by Rachel to find out more.
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How much does poverty make someone crime-prone? Are people in poverty more or less likely to commit crime? These are some of the key questions that are discussed when considering the relationship between poverty and crime. Such questions over shadow the fact that people who are in poverty or who may be for instance considered poor are by far the most likely to be affected by crime. All law-abiding people would benefit from lower crime levels, it is those on lower incomes and those in deprived areas who would benefit most from a broader understanding of the relationship between poverty and crime.
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Compared to households on incomes above £50,000, those on incomes below £10,000 are; considerably more likely to be attacked by someone they know and far more likely to be attacked by a stranger; Twice as likely to be burgled; Three times as likely to be robbed or mugged; Six times as likely to be a victim of domestic violence. One analysis of the links between poverty and violent crime looked at 34 separate studies and found substantial variation in estimates of how big the relationship between poverty and committing crimes is – and in which crimes poverty contributes to. People who break the law are not representative of poor people.
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Sensational media headlines such as ‘Today’s Britain: where the poor are forced to steal a system where the hungry go to jail’, ‘The law exists to clamp down on the misdemeanours of the poor’ and ‘Poverty “pushing young into crime”’ do not reflect the evidence. Most importantly for policymakers, discussions about a minority of the poor committing crimes risks overshadowing discussions about the law-abiding majority of the poor, and whether they suffer crime disproportionately. Fear of crime also plagues the lives of individuals who are suffering from poverty in a way that is unrecognisable to the affluent.
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Individuals who live in poverty also suffer:
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Significant barriers to social mobility: those who need a car or bicycle to get to work are more likely to see their means of transport stolen and damaged.
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GREATER INSURANCE PREMIUMS: costs that they are least equipped to afford;
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THE COST OF REPLACING GOODS: despite their low incomes;
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HIGHER SHOP PRICES: an inevitable result of the cost of lost stock, the higher costs of hiring people to work in high crime areas, the additional security costs, the higher insurance premiums paid by shops and the costs of using shop floor space differently; Social breakdown as people withdraw from their communities and fear to go outside. So arguably then crime is the leading social justice issue facing the country because of its interconnected relationship with poverty. What we should do about this is an interesting debate? Made more complicated by the fact that it presents a chicken and the egg dilemma; do you deal with the crime and offending first or the poverty or vice versa?
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It’s one that is not so easy to tackle but largely the answer sits outside the criminal justice system and within other systems of social policy.

Why are those in poverty most likely to experience crime?

This video explores the link between poverty, committing crime, and being a victim of crime.

Is there anything from Rachel’s film that surprised you? Share your thoughts as usual.

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Understanding and Solving Poverty and Inequality

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