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We Are Living in a Risk Society Governed Through Crime


To say that we are living in a society or a world governed through crime is an understatement. Society and the world at large are under siege of crime; all sorts of crime from pickpocketing to capital crimes and even treason. Criminals seem to be evolving by the day and to some extent, they have managed to outwit our intelligent security systems. Not even the massive number of prisons or severe sentences seems to work as an antidote for this rising trend. A crop of criminals has evolved from conventional crime to contemporary crime, characterized by passion and zeal to get what they want. Moreover, there are those who are in crime not to gain money but to settle scores regardless of the cost. It is in the wake of these facts that, saying we are living in a risky society governed through crime becomes an understatement. The events of 9/11 are still fresh in minds of many people across the world, even to the masterminds behind the incident.

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Unfortunately, this insurgence has been met with relatively weak systems to combat it. There are mitigation measures that have been used to combat crime, however; they are far from achieving their objectives. Whether it is the systems or the way of implementing policies, it remains a point of contention with several opinions from here and there. Policing has been taken as one of the most appropriate strategies for combating crime. However, this does not seem to alleviate the situation as we plunge into governance through crime. Policing, just like any other strategy has merits and demerits and this will be discussed in this paper. This paper gives the available evidence to suffice that we are living in a risky society governed through crime.

What Went Wrong

Forget about an international crime involving terrorists and all masterminds in the plan. Narrowing focus to domestic crimes, there is all evidence needed to qualify the view that society is governed through crime. This is in line with changing policing strategies where law enforcement has utterly failed to combat crime. From the late 60s, the police roles had changed to fighting and combating crime from merely keeping law and order (Wilson and Kelling p.2). At around this time, urban riots were on the increase and police became proactive to counter the same. There were immense studies on the causes of crime and mitigation measures suggested. Police adopted a better way of responding to crimes and weeding them out, altogether. Foot patrols became the order of the day and police-citizen interactions improved. People could report any form of crime to a police officer for the enactment of the appropriate measure.

This saw a reduction of crime, or so people thought. Citizens felt more secure with the presence of police officers on foot patrol. Nothing more could assure citizens of security more than this. Even though research concerning foot patrol indicated that crime rates were not on the decrease, at least people felt more secure and that is what was needed to quell the mounting fear among citizens. Unfortunately, after the insurgence was under control, police resorted to their normal role of maintaining peace and order. As this was happening, criminals devised more organized schemes to execute their plans. This is what society is experiencing in these contemporary times.

Evidence of a Society Governed Through Crime

The latest figures indicate rising trends of crime both inside and outside of England and Wales. In America, the story is not different. There is a sharp increase in crime especially among youth, a factor attributed to emerging gangs and gun violence. This puts society on high alert. The implications here are far-reaching and in the near future, the situation is set to worsen as these young people turn into white-collar crimes. Society is nose-diving when it comes to security issues. These young people receive little or no parental oversight thus they easily fall into the temptation of falling into criminal gangs. What follows is a society that cannot have peace and security. You have to lock your house immediately after you get in, for fear of being attacked. Most of these gangs are slackly organized and they resort to random crimes making it difficult to trace them. In society today, one can obtain a gun through a go-between. These firearms are then used to commit crimes and to inflict fear in citizens.

Society today seems to glorify crime and this is exemplified in the high sales of popular materials like music and movies among other stuff. According to Rafter (2006), crime films, on top of musing over our ideas concerning several pertinent issues, also mold our thinking (p. 3). Crime movies have littered our society and the seeds of impunity are quickly flourishing in the minds of our young people. Even though at the end of these movies there emerges a winner, a cop, or a gangster, people will always identify with a given character that makes them satisfied. Due to the rebellious nature of people, they will always take pride in that hero who defies all odds of law to beat the police at their game. The probability of an inexperienced naïve young man, wanting to put all these fantasies into practice is high; hence, crime incidences escalate.

Responses towards an article carried in BBC news on Monday 24, July 2000, summarises how our society is governed through crime. Citizens are the people who know how the situation is, at the grassroots. One respondent claimed that there is a new crop of crime that is, white-collar crime. This is a form of crime, where people in authority commit serious crimes like tax evasion or fraud, and they get away with it. This is a form of crime likely to pass unnoticed but it is a crime altogether. It is a form of governance, running down from the top offices to local authorities yet; no one is pointing a finger at it. This phenomenon will continue for many years to come because it is a culture that is picking up slowly (Kim 2006). The people, who will come after this crop of leaders is gone, will already have been incorporated into this culture. Culture is something that runs deep down in the hearts of people and to eradicate it may be insurmountable.

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The other evidence that society is controlled through crime is the owning of guns. People thought this was the answer to combating crime (Fitzgerald, McLennan, and Pawson, 1981). Unfortunately, it is turning out to be a nightmare. The presence of guns in society poses a big threat to citizens. What happens when that licensed gun owner loses his or her firearms to an upcoming criminal? This gun falls into the hands of the wrong person and what people took to be a tool of eliminating crime, comes back to haunt them. Guns are all over with violent gun crimes increasing by the day.

As aforementioned, police have become lax in the way they operate. Traditionally, a police officer would stop a suspicious person and ask questions about where they are going and so on. A drunkard fellow would be put out of the streets to avoid public disturbance; that in principle is a crime. This changed with time and police had to follow rules when arresting anyone. It is true that arresting one vagrant or a drunkard is unjust. However, as Wilson and Kelling note in their work ‘broken windows, a single broken window will indicate lack of care and this attracts more broken windows (3). With regard to this observation, it shows that untamed behaviors will most likely lead to the collapse of community controls. One drunkard may not cause much damage to people; however, this behavior proliferates and within no time, crime is all over. Regrettably, policing took this route of leaving ‘broken windows’ unattended.

Wilson and Kelling note that police officers opted to use car patrols instead of foot patrol and they missed it all (4). In a car, the close a police officer will come to citizens is by rolling down the car window and looking outside to see what is happening. From inside the car, a police officer is not likely to see a lot; hence the poor policing strategies. Wilson and Kelling posit that the car acts as a barrier between the police officer and the citizens who doubles to be criminals in some instances (5).

To emphasize how this society is run through crime, Susan Estrich carried out research to determine how people feel about their safety. The results were interesting. This research established that majority of adults will not dare meet a single youth on a street alone (Wilson and Kelling p. 4). A large number of people said that the most dangerous place to pass by is where youths are gathered irrespective of whether it is not a crime-prone area or not. This indicates clearly the fear that people have when it comes to security issues. It is deeply rooted in them that, society is a risky place run through crime. With full knowledge of this, gangsters take advantage of and move into these areas to carry on with their practices.

Finally, there is an international crime. Terrorism is on the lips of every person. The events of 9/11 are still fresh in minds of many. Many people would love to forget this experience. Fear was and still is all over. The fact that the masterminds behind this plan managed to outwit the sophisticated American security imply that they can reach anyone anytime they want. Terrorism is a form of warfare channeled towards innocent civilians. People are bound to die at any moment provided a mastermind somewhere feels it is the right time to kill and maim innocent people. In 1992, terrorists entered the basement of the World Trade Centre and within no time, the building was no more leaving six people dead and thousands of others injured. This was just an indication that more was on the way. What followed was the sentencing of the suspects for terms running to up to 240 years. Nevertheless, this did not act as an antidote and the worse was still to come.

In the early morning hours of September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four jetliners and subsequently brought down twin towers. More than two thousand people perished in this attack and many more thousands were injured. This indicates how society and the world all over, is a risky place and is governed by crime. What will make people be assured that they will be secure? This may not have any direct link to police; however, it deals with security and crime. It is so unfortunate, that people can die from atrocious deeds despite efforts to combat the same being in place.

In society today, there are organized underground gangs and they can unleash terror anytime. There have been incidences when these gangs have been reported to manage some state areas. They extort money from innocent people or even from businesses. The National Youth Gang Survey (NYGS) carried a survey in 2004 to establish the number of gangs and gang members in the United States of America. It established that there were over 24,000 gangs with over 760,000 gang members in the US alone ( Muhlhausen and Little, 2007). The report went further to establish that, these gangs were responsible for over 25% of homicides committed in different large cities. That we are living among gangs with numerous gang members as revealed above is terrifying. This fact underscores the view that society is surely a risky place and crime makes the rule of the day. This gives everyone a reason to fear. It is common to see people walk down the streets and they keep on looking back over their shoulders to see who is following them. People today live in fear; fear of the unknown. We may want to justify these fears; however, they are fears that emanate from the fact that crime is so rampant that it has become ingrained in minds of many people. What else explains an old woman walking down a street; she sees a group of innocent young people having fun; but instead of walking over, she decides to change streets because she has smelled of crime. This is how deep crime roots run in our society today.

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Strengths of Policing

The primary function of policing is to maintain law and order, and combating crimes fall under this category. Policing gives citizens more chances to talk to police officers. By so doing, people can report what is worrying them or any incidence of crime. Police on foot patrol are likely to address crime issues better because they interact with people; they can question suspicious behaviors among other practices. Policing gives citizens an option when dealing with crime. Take for instance a person is walking down a street and sees a crime take place, the only place he will run to report such a case is to the police. If the police were not there, this crime would go unreported and consequently unabated. According to Wilson and Kelling (p. 9), a police officers’ uniform is a mark of someone ready to offer assistance where needed. Psychologists indicate that citizens are not likely to help someone under attack; not because of selfishness, but due to lack of credible grounds that they have to assume personal responsibility in such cases. This is where policing becomes important; by virtue of being an officer, responsibility and assistance are guaranteed.

Weaknesses of Policing

Contrary to the belief that policing will reduce crime rates, research has shown that an increased number of police officers does not imply reduced crime rates. With the changing policing trends, whereby car patrols replaced foot patrols, policing is far from dealing with crime effectively. In a vehicle, an officer is unlikely to spot what is happening outside. The best they can do is to roll down the window, look at, say a group of young men having some fun, question one or two of them about what is happening, and continue with their patrols. It becomes very hard for an individual to walk to the police in a car and report an incidence of crime. Such people will be branded “finks” and this discourages them from reporting crime hence the surge in crime. Police officers cannot know exactly what is happening in different parts of the city. When they are around, things may seem different but once they leave, criminals take advantage of the situation to harass people.


We are living in a risky society governed by crime. From white-collar crimes, through domestic crimes to international terrorism, it appears that crime has taken the rule of the day. People are living in constant fear of being attacked or robbed of their possessions. Police have failed in their very duty of maintaining peace and order. Due to rising crime rates, police officers have been forced to change their duty from keeping law and order to fighting crime. Foot patrols are no more as police officers adopt car patrols. This leaves citizens at the hands of organized gangs. The fact that crime has gone unabated, underscores the fact that, if a broken window is left unattended, more windows are likely to be broken.

References list

Fitzgerald, M., McLennan, G., & Pawson, J., 1981. “Crime and Society: Readings In History and Theory.” Web.

Kim, M., 2006. “Reassessing the Connection between Police Strengths and Violent Crimes in US Cities: A Dynamic Panel Data Analysis.” Web.

Muhlhausen, B., & Little, E., 2007. Gang Crime: Effective and Constitutional Policies to Stop Violent Gangs.” Web.

Rafter, N., 2006. “Shots in the Mirror: Crime Films and Society.” Web.

Wilson, J., & Kelling, G., (n.d.) “The Police and Neighborhood Safety: Broken Windows.” Web.

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