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Criminology Theory Application: Rational Choice Theory

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The Canadian Criminology Today: Theories and Application, Sixth Edition Textbook, states that the rational choice theory is the ideology that, criminality is the result of conscious choice and individuals choose to commit crime when the benefits outweigh the costs of disobeying the law. Rational choice theory has been used to understand a variety of criminal offences, particularly: property crime, drug use, violent crime, sexual assault and white-collar offences. Rational choice theory presumes that criminal behaviour, is not determined by biological, psychological, or environmental factors that would otherwise influence a person to commit a crime. A person contemplating crime rationally, considers the costs and the benefits of committing the crime and not committing the crime. If the benefits of committing the crime outweigh the costs, then the person has more utility of committing the crime. Rational choice theory can be used to further describe the police-reported crime statistics in Canada for 2016, because of the most common types of crime that were found within the crime statistics.

Each year, Statistics Canada reports the number and type of criminal incidents that have been reported to the police. The Crime Severity Index (CSI) tracks changes in the severity of police-reported crime by looking at the amount of crime reported in a certain jurisdiction and the relative severity of these crimes. In 2016, the police-reported Crime Severity Index, increased by 1% while the crime rate remained relatively stable in Canada. All of Canada’s provinces and territories reported that their crime rates decreased and/or did not change, except for: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Nunavut. In 2016, the overall CSI increased by 1%, from 70.1 to 71.0. According to Crime Statistics Canada, the slight increase between 2015 and 2016 was primarily caused due to an increase in fraud (by 14%), but there was also an increase in the rates of justice offences, sexual violations against children and child pornography. Between 2015 and 2016, seven out of thirteen provinces and territories in Canada reported decreases in their CSI. The CSI shows that breaking and entering was the major contributing factor for almost all provinces and territories, regardless of that change being an increase or decrease. The CSI crime rates were the highest overall in the territories, which is due to a relatively high number of incidents of mischief, as well as breaking and entering. Although there was a slight increase in CSI overall, Canada’s violent CSI remained fairly stable in 2016. Sexual violations against children, violations causing death, offences related to sexual activity and sexual assault were a few of the violent incidents to record increases in 2016, while seeing a lowered number of incidences around homicide and attempted murder. Canada’s non-violent CSI increased due to a higher number of incidents related to fraud. Canada’s youth CSI declined in 2016, this was due to the rate of youth accused of drug and property related crimes in 2016. But, the youth violent CSI rose in 2016 due to the number of police reported incidents of attempted murder, robbery and sexual violations of children. A conclusion that can be made from reading the police-reported crimes statistics is that a majority, or a large portion, of crimes committed in Canada in 2016, revolved around the youth population. This being said, the majority of crimes committed revolved around the youth population because children specifically, had experienced a form of sexual assault. Between 2015 and 2016, the rate of police-reported sexual violations against children increased 30%.

When analyzing the Crime Statistics for Canada in 2016, it can be said that the rational choice theory best suits the patterns and types of crime that occurred the most throughout 2016, since the most common types of crime occurring were robbery, fraud, sexual assault (including sexual assault against children) and child pornography. The rational choice theory is, in my opinion,



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