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Homicide Case Study: Homicide Patterns in the UK

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 2033 words Published: 15th Aug 2018

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“murder is when a man of sound memory and of the age of discretion, unlawfully killeth within any country of the realm any reasonable creature in rerum natura under the king’s peace, with malice aforethought, either expressed by the party or implied law, so as the party wounded or hurt, etc, die of the wound or hurt, within a year and a day of the same.”

The aim of this essay is to determine whether the case study is typical of homicides and also to analyse in general and to clarify if it is an example of a particular type of murder and how does it fit into the general pattern of homicides in England and Wales. The author will look at typical cases of homicide and how it fits in with the case study, the general patterns of homicide in England and Wales. And finally we will analyse the biology, psychological and sociology state of ‘Ryan’ with reference to the case study and the racial motive for the crime. The case study of ‘Ryan’ is class as a typical homicide and also heavily involves racial violence leading to the homicide of ‘Ryan’s victim.

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The criminological literature suggests some key behaviour traits that have been identified as potential contributors to violence and, thus, homicide. Such behaviours include physical aggression which often starts early in life (Ryan line 21 & 22) and can lead to homicidal violence later in life (Ryan line 40). Drug and alcohol abuse and criminal gang membership where with-in group norms can support violence and criminal activity.

The number of homicides recorded by the police in 2011/12 (550) fell by 14 per cent compared with 2010/11. Homicide is at its lowest level since 1983 (when 550 were also recorded). The reducing trend in murder and homicide is reflected in a reduction in attempted murder, which is down 8 % and serious Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) and Actual Bodily Harm also down 8 % across England and Wales.

Home Office data concluded that in 2011/12; more than two-thirds of homicide victims were male. The most common method of killing continues to be by sharp instrument. Female victims were more likely to be killed by someone they knew. In most of these cases, female victim were killed by a current or ex-partner while male victims were most likely to be killed by a friend or acquaintance. Victims aged 16 years were most likely to be killed by a parent or step- parent.

There is a growing body of evidence about factors that place individuals at risk of criminal offending. The theoretical approaches towards biological, psychological and sociology attempt to explain the relationship between those risk factors and criminal behaviour related to ‘Ryan’. There is no consensus on the relative merit of these theories and it may be that the casual mechanisms are more or less significant for different individuals.

The study of criminology theory is an opportunity to analyse crime through explanations for the creation of criminals and criminal behaviour. Each theory explains a reason for crime, making logic of the causes for the criminal appeal. Making sense of the dilemmas that impact social structure, behaviour, and change make it easier to understand what needs to be done to prevent the behaviour and actions of the criminal. Classical and biological theories of thought explain crime through two different considerations that are necessary for the rationalization of deviant behaviour.

Most homicides are committed by one of the three major types of perpetrators; the victim has a relationship with the perpetrator, lovers, and spouses, children, neighbours, or co-workers. The victim is engaged in the use, purchase, sale, storage, or distribution of illegal drugs. The victim is either an innocent target or is either an innocent target or is engaged in socially marginal activities, such as prostitution, gang behaviour. These with are classed as typical types of homicide. Homicides committed by serial killers, psychotic killers, and perpetrators who do not fit into one of the three major types are atypical homicides.

Racist violence in the UK came under sharp public interest following the murder of a Black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, by a gang of racist white youths in 1993 and the subsequent public inquiry that was reported in 1999 (Macpherson 1999). Among the UK police it resulted in the creation of many new practices, training, and requirements to report, record and act on allegations of racist harassment and assault. (Bowling 2002) The targeting of racist violence, along with domestic and homophobic violence is part of a wider social and legal agenda to tackle the hate or bias crimes where the victim is selected on the grounds of their social status. As a result of this, the numbers of recorded racist attacks in England and Wales has risen from 15,000 in 1988 to 25,000 in 1999, and 54,351 in 2003. (Home Office 2002). Mesner (1989) stated that alongside inequality, an aggravating factor would be the mechanism by which inequality was reproduced, so that inequality based on racist exclusion would result in high levels of diffuse hostility and a high homicide rate.

The elements of criminal behaviour are no means a simple equation. A small percentage of crime is attributed to abnormality or genetics. Criminal activity can be explained in terms of the learning of societal norms were an individual has mistaken or been influenced to develop a way of living that is not compatible with the laws of a given society, therefore a conflict is created that may lead to a criminal confrontation.

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Another aspect though is that a small percentage of a given societies people will suffer from abnormalities or mental infirmities that are actually the predominant cause of an individual’s criminal conduct. This is exasperated by the social phenomena of stereotyping, prejudice and racism that that heavily contribute to social injustice (McKnight et al 1994) ( RYAN line 33). Seen in the light of’ frustration’ (Bartol 1999) and ‘escalation’ (Bartol 1999) theories it can be seen that biological explanations of behaviour are far too limited in that it is next to impossible for a person to change their genetic structures.

Normal criminals and abnormal criminals are better accounted for their behaviour by both biological and psychological theory though the more comprehensive theory is psychological as this takes into account biological factors as well as environment, the individual, cognitive processes and social and group processes. To explain these concepts of criminal behaviour theories from biological, learning and social cognition are outlined and evidence is presented that shows why more than just biological determinants of criminal behaviour are important.

Lombroso’s work is a biological theory, which he believed accounted for why criminals committed crimes. (Bartol 1999) in unison with the contemporary views makes the statement that Lombruso’s work did not fully account for criminal behaviour.

While the important role of psychosocial factors in the development of criminal behaviour has long been acknowledged, there has been an increasing interest in the neurobiological basis of aggression and crime over the past decade, boosted by methodological advances in genetics (Sterzer et al 2009). Researchers recognised the potential role of biological factors in the etiology of criminal behaviour and analysed whether abnormal fear conditioning predisposes to crime (Gao et al 2010). Fear conditioning is a basic form of learning in which fear is associated with a previously neutral stimulus. In relation to ‘Ryan’ fear conditioning could of being a big part in his early life and this factor could have played a major part of this individual’s biological make-up. In imitational learning, behaviour is observed and imitated and is maintained depending on the extent of re-enforcement that occurs. When aggression is observed it may lead to a swing in the norm of aggression as unacceptable to being acceptable. According to (Bandura 1995) behaviour that is learned can also be relearned with more appropriate responses, however (Bartol 1999) argued that cognitive scripts are resistant to change and they are subject to observational learning and reinforcement theory. Therefore, the age at which a given behaviour is learned is dependent on the rewards it brings when it is imitated and the length of time it is maintained before it is the form of criminal confrontation. The problem is that the behaviour that is causing the criminal confrontation will be more resistant to change the longer it went undetected, reinforced and maintained therefore this behaviour will be more resistant to being replaced with a more appropriate behaviour. In theory the better a young person is raised with good models of social normality the less likely the individual is going to adapt antisocial behaviour. Crime is a multifaceted behavioural outcome of complex interactions among multiple biological and environmental factors and cannot possibly be explained by a single neurobiological factor such as fear conditioning.

The degree to which criminal behaviour is controllable and correctable is determined by many connecting factors none of which alone can explain crime. The approaches of psychological learning theories are the subsequent developments are more comprehensive biological theories are far too simple and do not account for all areas of individual and social behaviour. The biological theories emphasise the values on a complicated issue that demands attention to detail and a broad minded approach that is willing to account for human behaviour and how they do or don’t commit deviant behaviour in society.

One in three men in the UK will have a conviction for a serious offence by the age of 31. (Newburn et al 1994) states that “the most significant fact about crime is that it is almost always committed by men” (Ryan was 22). There are many social and cultural theories of violent behaviour, stressing social learning (Hearn 1998). Through violence men attempt to affirm a positive self-concept, enhance self- esteem and reclaim personal power (Campbell 1993). Male violence reflects patterns of socialization in which the male role involves greater readiness to use violence as a means of control and assertion of power. The theory of ‘hegemonic masculinity’ (Connell 1995 & Messerschmidts 1997), masculinity is viewed as a crucial part of intersection of different sources and forms of power, stratification, desire and identity. Connell (1995) states that performance and choice rather than passively learnt behaviour. Violent behaviour is chosen while calling upon dominant discourses of masculinity for support and legitimation. In “Ryan’s” case, Ryan in fact made the informed choice to commit and act upon his own violent behaviour towards his victim (Ryan lines 30-46).

In conclusion, Ryan just adds to the Home Office statistics of young male men who commit homicide in today’s society, and unfortunately fits into the general pattern of homicides in England and Wales. Ryan’s actions on that night out will have a drastic effect on Ryan for the rest of this young man’s life forever. Ryan’s act of homicide is labelled as a typical type of homicide. Ryan’s vicious attack on his victim will probably result in a typical murder charge and Ryan will be looking at a lengthy custodial sentence. It is unlikely Ryan could plead manslaughter due to the fact that Ryan’s actions on that night out, do not meet any of the criteria for a lesser charge of manslaughter. Ryan’s actions that night have destroyed so many life’s, his victim, his friend (who will also probably be charged with murder), and Ryan’s young life. Ryan’s decision to commit that vicious attack that lead to homicide will also have an effect on all family members of those mentioned.


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