What are the causes of crime?
How we answer the question “what are the causes of crime?” depends on our attitudes to society, justice, authority and so forth, attitudes which have been shaped to a large extent by our own experiences.
If I have a good secure job, good income and feel relatively fulfilled in life, then my attitude to society and its structures is likely to be very positive. If, on the other hand, I have been unemployed since leaving school (early) and no prospect of any significant change in my circumstances is in sight, then I might feel that a radical change in the structures of society is called for. These different attitudes will affect my understanding of the causes of crime.
Ireland’s response to crime
The predominant response to the problem of crime in Ireland over the past few decades has been tougher criminal justice measures, tougher on Peter - from the earlier example - rather than answering the question “why did Peter do it?”. Thus
- the number of Gardaí has risen from 8,500 in the 1980s to just under 13,000 today
- the numbers being committed to prison annually have risen from 4,200 in 1983 to almost 13,500 today
- the daily number of those in custody has risen from 1,600 in 1983 to 4,000 today
- the average length of sentence has risen considerably over that time
- mandatory sentencing for some offences has been introduced
- new legislation in regard to drugs, sexual offences, firearms, public order offences and anti-social behaviour has been introduced