Psychology and Policing

By Neil Brewer; Carlene Wilson | Go to book overview

3
Determinants and Prevention of Criminal Behavior

Michael R. Gottfredson Michael Polakowski University Of Arizona

Social and behavioral scientists have created a large body of empirical literature on the determinants of delinquency and crime, much of which has relevance for policing. Some of this knowledge cannot readily be translated directly into practice, but it can help place the police role in perspective and suggest where the boundaries of and opportunities for effective crime prevention by the criminal justice system may lie. At the same time, research on the determinants of crime and delinquency gives some clear guidance about the comparative likelihood of offending by different groups and to the nature of crime and delinquency that is typically encountered by the police. Because it is not possible to review all of the large literature on the correlates of delinquency and crime in one short chapter, it is perhaps best to discuss the findings concerning the strongest and most robust determinants. Accordingly, in this chapter, we first review some of the major, agreed-upon psychological correlates of delinquency and crime and describe in broad terms the nature of the most common forms of delinquency and crime. We then explore some of the implications of these facts for policing.


EARLY SOURCES OF DELINQUENCY AND CRIME: THE FAMILY AND THE SCHOOL

Of overwhelming importance to expectations about policing is the now welldocumented finding that individual differences in the tendency to commit crime, delinquency, and analogous acts can be documented very early in childhood. Psychologists have used a variety of techniques to measure the tendency to engage in delinquency, over an extended period of time and in a variety of

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