Crime And Crime: The Role Of Opportunity In Crime

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The role of opportunity in crime I will review each of these developments in turn, beginning with the role of opportunity in crime which I will illustrate briefly with results from three important studies. The first is not a study of crime but of suicide. I mention it because, like many serious crimes, suicide is usually seen to be a deeply motivated act, only committed by very unhappy or disturbed people. However, a strong and surprising opportunity component appears in suicide trends in England and Wales during the 1960s and 1970s (Clarke and Mayhew, 1988). From the table (at the end of this article), you should be able to see that in 1958 almost 50 percent of the nearly 5,300 people who killed themselves in England and Wales did so by domestic gas. This gas contained high levels of carbon monoxide and was very poisonous. People would kill themselves by putting their head in the gas oven or by lying down by the gas fire, having blocked up any gaps under doors or around windows. During the 1960s, domestic gas began to be manufactured from oil rather than from coal. As…show more content…
Why did they not overdose on sleeping pills, shoot or hang themselves, jump out of high buildings, or put their heads on the railway tracks? The reason is that all these methods have disadvantages not possessed by gas. It is difficult to collect together enough pills to kill oneself and many people who take an overdose have their stomachs pumped and their lives saved. Few people have guns, and in any case these result in blood and disfigurement. Hanging oneself or jumping out of a tall building requires courage and resolution. Lethal domestic gas, on the other hand, used to be piped into most people’s homes, required little preparation and involved no pain. It is easy to understand why it was the favored method of suicide in Britain for so long. Nor is it so surprising that when the opportunity to use it was removed, the overall suicide rate

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