Why is Robin Hood seen as a hero of the people and not as a common thief? Why were the French resistance fighters seen as heroes, while the Islamic insurgents in Iraq are seen as terrorists? Is it acceptable to use deadly force to protect your home? When does profiting from others stop being a business and start to be a criminal conspiracy? These are just a few of the questions that illustrate how complicated it is to even define a crime, let alone to study it. And it is this fascinating level of debate that draws me to criminology.
I watched the summer riots of 2011 with great interest, not only because of the intriguing demonstration of ‘mob mentality’, but because of all the theories and counter theories that appeared in the aftermath, as academics and psychologists attempted to explain and justify these clearly criminal actions. The same year, similar uprisings across the Arab world were saluted as cries for freedom against out of touch and oppressive governments, yet in the UK they were condemned as criminal and barbaric acts. This fascinated me and made me want to learn much more about criminology and the study of crime.
I grew up on a council estate and went to a rough comprehensive school, so I have a good understanding of the desperation that drives many people to crime. Yet I have also experienced crime that was motivated purely by greed and a lust for power. Again, the difference is of great interest to me, as was the response by the authorities, who sometimes appreciated the difference, yet often did not, treating all criminals the same, regardless of their motivation.
This interest drove me to study sociology and psychology at A-level. These were not easy choices for me and I have had to show real determination and dedication to pursue these subjects. However, I am passionate about these studies and have thoroughly enjoyed the insights they have given me into the behaviour and motivations of those around me. I have particularly enjoyed the study of group behaviour and how people are led by their peers and the media to believe ideas, and act in ways, which they would never do alone.
To gain some insight into the role of government in controlling criminal behaviour, I recently made contact with my local MP. She kindly spent time explaining the roles of the Home Secretary and the Home Office in creating policies and managing the criminal justice system. I hope to be her guest in the next few months at Westminster as the new Criminal Justice Bill is debated in the house.
Unsurprisingly, I am a huge fan of both crime fiction and TV crime shows, with Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes amongst my favourites. I enjoy their cases not just as ‘who done it’s’ but also in trying to understand why the crime was committed in the first place.
At this point, I do not know which area of criminology I would like to build my career in, and I look forward to studying the subject in depth on this course to fine tune my interests and aspirations.