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Cover Criminology

16. ‘Race’, ethnicity, and crime  

Marian FitzGerald

This chapter begins by exploring notions of ‘race’ and ethnicity. It then provides some background on how particular groups have come to be defined as ‘ethnic minorities’ in Britain and what the official statistics on these groups say about the differences between them—with particular reference to known risk factors for offending. After outlining the history of these groups' relations with the police and public perceptions of their involvement in crime and disorder, it considers trends in the official statistics on ethnicity and offending. The chapter argues that criminologists must interpret crime statistics in the light of relevant criminological theories rather than giving primacy to explanations which treat the experiences of different ‘ethnic’ groups as if they were unique.