Written in my break so haven't proof-read, but hope it helps...I know it's a bit over-long, but no time to edit.
Outline and evaluate sociological explanations for the relationship between ethnicity and crime 
The debate over the relationship between ethnicity and crime in the UK can be traced back to the 19th Century, when immigration from Ireland fuelled distrust and suspicion, with the Irish being labelled a ‘dangerous class’. This debate has continued ever since, and is particularly evident every time a new immigrant group arrives into the UK. Only recently, the British media carried lots of stories about Romanian criminals, in anticipation of a wave of immigration from Romania.
There is evidence that does support the view that ethnic minority and immigrant groups are disproportionately criminal. For example, Black and Asian people are over-represented in the UK prison population, while white British people are under-represented. This pattern is continued across other official crime statistics.
Functionalists accept official statistics as being accurate and therefore would agree that ethnic minorities and immigrants are more likely to be criminals. However, most Functionalists suggest this problem is temporary. The host-immigrant model by Park (1950) demonstrates this view best. Park argued that immigrants are more criminal due to cultural differences with the host nation. This leads to a conflict of norms and values which disappears once the immigrant group are assimilated into the host culture. For example, following the unprecedented wave of Polish immigration into the UK after 2004, some police forces reported a rise in arrests for certain crimes including drink-driving and knife possession. Such offences are perhaps not so strictly enforced in Poland and may be considered more normal there. Park would argue that as Polish people become more accustomed to British culture, these types of crime would return to ‘normal’ levels.
However, Park’s theory rests on the assumption that all immigrant groups do successfully assimilate, but this is not necessarily the case (and many argue it shouldn’t be). It could also be pointed out that Park’s theory was formed in Chicago in the 1920s and ‘30s, so may not apply to other societies at other times. UK statistics also suggest that first-generation immigrants have historically been more law-abiding than subsequent generations.
Many Marxists agree that ethnic minorities are more likely to be criminals, but argue that this is a result of their treatment within capitalist societies. They suggest that ethnic minorities form part of the reserve army of labour, making them the first to lose their jobs in times of economic hardship. This makes them more likely to turn to crime in order to support themselves. Castles & Kosack (1973) argue that capitalism encourages racism, which in turn can lead to crime. Capitalism was built on slavery and, whilst slavery is gone, the same racist arguments used to justify it are now used to justify worse conditions and paying low wages to ethnic minorities. Crime can be a result of this, as minority groups fight back – for example, Desai (1999) found that crime was increasing in some Asian communities as a result of young Asian men standing up for their families and communities in ways that previous generations had been afraid to do. However, other Marxists – such as Hall (1979) – have argued that capitalism exaggerates ethnic criminality by labelling and scapegoating them.
Both Right and Left Realists may also support the view that ethnic minorities may be more criminal. Left Realists argue that marginalisation and relative deprivation cause crime. In Britain, ethnic minorities may be more likely to experience these things and therefore more likely to be criminals. Right Realists like Charles Murray argued that crime was a result of cultural differences. He was speaking about African-Americans, claiming that irresponsible parenting and unwillingness to work were part of their culture and that these sorts of traits led to crime.
However, these views assume – at least in part – that the statistics present an accurate picture. There are many opposing arguments, suggesting that the statistics are flawed or misleading. For example, the suggestion that there is an institutional racism within the police force that leads to them disproportionately focusing their efforts on minorities. The MacPherson Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence identified institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police, which adds weight to this argument. Phillips & Bowling (2002) found that ethnic minority neighbourhoods are over-policed, while Hood (1992) found that courts give black men longer sentences than white men. These studies further suggest some racism or prejudice in the Criminal Justice System. The CJS is the source of many official crime statistics, so any racism within the system will severely impact these statistics.
Outside of the CJS, some studies have identified the role of the media in exaggerating the crimes of ethnic minorities, therefore influencing the public views of them. For example, Hall (1979) identified the scapegoating of young black men in the ‘mugging’ moral panic on the 1970s, claiming it was a ploy to turn the working classes against each other in order to conceal the failings of capitalism. In 2000, Alexander investigated media reports into organised Asian gangs and found them to be mostly fabricated.
Left Realists Lea & Young (1984) suggested the truth lay somewhere between the two arguments. They pointed out that alleged racism by the police could not explain everything, as most police action is based on public reporting – and also because not all ethnic minority groups are over-represented by the statistics. They accepted that the criminal behaviour of ethnic minorities is exaggerated, but that it remains nonetheless disproportionate and increasing.
Crime & Deviance
A2 Unit: G673