Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some interesting pictures and videos!!!!

A scene from the Cronulla Riots

Police heavily armed and dangerous while controlling protests

The infamous "Chopper" Read

Police in England using excessive force to control crowd

A little commical humour with police!!!!

Media and television representations of criminals

The media cover an extensive part of crime, criminals, and the criminal justice system. Newspapers all over the world include daily stories of criminal acts, whether it is a small community or a large metropolis, the same types of stories get covered, which are all about crime. “A regular feature of the American newspaper is the police blotter, a daily or weekly listing of community residents and other persons who have been arrested by local authorities” (DeLisi 2005, p.122). When it comes to television, the stories are the same, which includes crime-related stories leading the local news programs and television dramas and movies being devoted to issues of criminal justice. Therefore crime and criminals are an integral part for the news media as they make most of their money reporting on the issues.

'Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities' - The glamorous life of a criminal!!!

Criminals celebrating their achievements in 'Underbelly'

Through television dramas and movies crime has become quite popular to watch as this is what the public want to see but with these dramas and movies have also come the rise and popularity of criminals. In today’s society criminals have almost become celebrities and the media have a field day with the stories about their personal lives. Take for example, John Ibrahim, the recent drama series ‘Underbelly: The Golden Mile’ has made him into a celebrity where the media want televised interviews with him about his life. Even though the drama series is supposed to be a fictional depiction of Sydney’s criminal underworld, the media have publicised it into a reality television show about Ibrahim’s life. Several newspapers have written stories about him being a king and television networks are all queuing up to get an interview with the star underworld figure. The following article tells a story of how rich and successful Ibrahim is as he is depicted as a king with many castles even though this so called “successful business” could be the result of many criminal activities he as allegedly engaged in. Again the media portrays him as a celebrity and the drama series almost glorifies him as a hero rather than a criminal. 

Another interesting character from the criminal underworld that has received several media attention is the one and only Mark Brandon Chopper Read. He has his own website with merchandise the public can purchase and has also written several crime novels about the underworld, which were quite successful. Now how does a person who has spent time in prison for robbing drug dealers, shooting other known criminals and other illegal criminal activities go on to advertise against drink driving, write novels, star in commercials against domestic violence and tour Australia with Roger “The Dodger” Rogerson for a show portraying his innocence??? In Chopper’s eyes he sees himself as never really committing a crime because all the victims of his crimes were scum criminals that the world was better off without.

The successful underworld figure Mark Brandon Chopper Read

The following article sums up the point about the media misleading the public’s perceptions of crime in reality. Television series portray the criminal life as being glamorous and full of rewards when in fact it’s the complete opposite. It may be glamorous and full of excitement until you get caught and the media almost encourage youngsters to become involved in crime by reporting on this misconception about criminal life.  


DeLisi, M 2005, Career criminals in society, Sage Publications, Inc, California.

The media portrayal of criminals

Throughout history there has been considerable debate and discussion about why people breaking laws excite public interests. People throughout the world have a massive interest in crime and criminals, as does the media. Crime involves a wide range of behaviour that excites and encourages people to watch and read about criminals in the media. Marsh and Melville (2009) have written about the role that age plays in the portrayal of criminals and the changes that have occurred over time in the way the media have reported on young offenders.

When it comes to the issue of the juvenile justice system it can be said that certain changes and developments have been influenced by public and media concern over youth offending (Marsh & Melville 2009). During the early 1990s the media regularly reported on young people participating in joyriding. Marsh and Melville (2009, p.71) state that “certainly the press was full of stories of young people stealing cars and then using them for spectacular…shows of bravado”. It could be said that youngsters during this time period were offending so frequently that the press had to report on it and make the public aware of juvenile delinquents.

In 1993 this concern for high offending by young people reached the ultimate high when two-year-old Jamie Bulger was abducted by -year-old boys, Thomson and Venables from Bootle shopping centre in Liverpool, England. These two young boys were found guilty of murdering Jamie Bulger and the media headlines heavily reported on the horror video Child’s Play 3 had something to do with the horrific violence that had been committed here. The video was rented by one of the boy’s father shortly before the murder was committed and there were disturbing similarities between scenes of Jamie’s killing and the video. However, there was no evidence that the two killers ever saw this video, but “the judge still stated at the trial that, I suspect that exposure to violent video film may in part be an explanation” (Marsh & Melville 2009, p.23). The media echoed this view and said that any already disturbed child who was exposed to such images of brutality would turn to such violence.

Media reports throughout England had emphasized the themes of evil and childhood horror rather than childhood innocence when it came to the reporting of the conviction of Thomson and Venables. During this period, the media played a significant role in constructing a certain picture of the two boys as being pure evil and they should be given life in prison, never to be released. The media constructed a certain ‘moral panic’ and influenced the wider public’s negative perception of youth and youth crime after the murder of Jamie Bulger. Siddique (2010) says that “murder and subsequent legal rulings have had a profound effect on the way the society perceives children” as well as the way the media report on such crimes.


Should these children be allowed to live a normal life now that they have served their time and are adults or should they be punished further and spend the rest of their natural life behind bars in an adult prison???

The faces of 'pure evil'
Marsh, I & Melville, G 2009, Crime justice and the media, Routledge, New York.

Siddique, H 2010, ‘James Bulger killing: the case history of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson’, Guardian, 3 March.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Portrayal of police in television dramas

The depiction of police in television dramas today is not necessarily realistic or positive in any way, shape or form. Rather I believe it is the total opposite of this. In almost every crime television series, the police almost always apprehend the suspect and solve the crime. This portrayal is far from the truth and in reality every single crime doesn’t get solved. Most television series about police officers have turned into a soap opera where it follows the lives and relationships of individual people in the force, not to mention that everything is blown way out of proportion.

The cast of 'The Shield'

Executive producers of crime television dramas glamorise the life of a police officer by adding all the excitement of chasing criminals in cars, shooting at every chance they get, hot pursuits and solving every crime. However, in reality being a police officer involves a lot of tedious paperwork and writing up reports to explain every single detail that happened when they were called out to a disturbance or alleged crime. In reality, police often deal with false reporting of crimes where valuable resources are wasted on prank callers and mediating work.

Australian TV series 'Recruits'

Police are portrayed as masculine, smart, full of martial arts skills, fit, aggressive, action packed, always willing to shoot at suspects and so on. The sad reality is that the public want to see all the excitement and glamour of being a police officer because no one wants to watch a show where police are filling out forms and writing up boring reports. Then does all this glamour and excitement encourage people to join the police force in order to get justice or for the simple reason that they get to shoot at someone or chase a suspect in a high speed car pursuit???

Australian documentary 'Gangs of Oz'
There are several television shows both Australian and American which portray police in different ways. This includes both positive and negative depictions, which allows us to come to our own conclusions about what the police force is really like I guess. Some of these shows are based on factual evidence and documentaries and others are just fictional dramas to show us the exciting and glamorous lives that come with being a police officer. Certain fictional dramas have also come to show police officers as being corrupt and taking advantage of the power they hold but in my opinion this is not just fictional but rather a reality that must be dealt with in order to clean up crime in our streets.

'America's Hardest Prisons'
List of Australian crime drama
Current Affairs
• Forensic Investigators (Seven network)

• Crime Investigation Australia (CI/Nine network)
• Gangs of Oz (Seven network)
• Australian Drug Lords
• Australian Families of Crime
• Missing Persons Unit

• Border Security: Australia’s Front Line (Seven network)
• The Force: Behind the Line (Seven network)
• Highway Patrol (Seven network)
• Recruits (Network Ten)
• Search and Rescue (Nine network)
• Police Files: Unlocked

• City Homicide (Seven network)
• Rescue: Special Ops (Nine network)
• Rush (Network Ten)
• Sea Patrol (Nine network)
• Underbelly: The Golden Mile
• Police Rescue

List of American crime drama
• America’s Hardest Prisons
• True Crime
• Forensic Investigators
• Forensic Files
• The FBI Files
• Cold Case Files

• The First 48
• Cops
• Real Stories of Highway Patrol
• Street Patrol
• Road Wars
• Arrest & Trial

• Law & Order
• Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
• Law & Order: Criminal Intent
• NYPD Blue
• CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
• CSI: Miami
• Cold Case
• Criminal Minds
• Without a Trace
• The Shield

America's factual series 'Cops'

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Police brutality

Police brutality can be defined as using excessive force that is intentional without reason or appropriateness, which often results in police officers physically assaulting someone. In most cases police use excessive force in order to intimidate people and get results where evidence is not present. Another reason for police brutality could be that this is a way for them to remain superior and therefore police go on a power trip to show that they are the law and what they say goes without any question.

Police will always make up a story to cover up the use of excessive force!!!

A very recent example of police brutality is the death of Steven Bosevski, who was allegedly hit in the head with a baton by police without any good reason witnesses say. Police were called to St George Leagues Club in Kogarah after celebrations got out of control and turned into a “brawl” that Mr Bosevski was not involved in. However, many witnesses said that the police used excessive force, such as the use of tasers, batons and capsicum spray in order to break up the alleged brawl. Several witnesses said that Mr Bosevski had not been involved in the brawl and that he wasn’t even drunk. However, “the Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, said Mr Bosevski hit an officer in the face while holding a bottle and police decided to use their batons to bring the person to the ground so they could affect the arrest'' (Toovey 2010).

The following newspaper articles are from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, which portrays both sides of the story that being the victim’s and police. It also shows a video shot by a witness on their mobile phone where several police officers are huddled up and what looks to be like they are hitting a person on the ground and using excessive force. At this stage it is reportedly evident that Mr Bosevski was actually handcuffed and there was no reason to use such excessive force, which resulted in his horrible death.

As a result of Mr Bosevski’s family and a public out cry that he died due to police brutality, “police have formed a critical incident team to investigate the death” (Minus 2010). In my opinion if there had not been witnesses in this incident to suggest police used excessive force without reason and the media following the story so heavily then there wouldn’t be any investigation. Now that police are investigating the death of Mr Bosevski I think that the truth will never come out as the police protect their own and an innocent bystander’s life was taken without reason to do so.

Other headlines of police brutality around the world include: ‘Police shoots a 15 year old mental disable kid’, ‘Police shoot and kill a man after traffic stop’, ‘Police kill a football fan in Brazil’, ‘LA police officer beating and strangling a man lying on the ground’. These are only a very small number of articles about police brutality and without the media reporting on such things the public’s perception of police would only be a positive one. Police need to have more rigorous training when dealing with minor offences and not always resort to using excessive force when it can be avoided.

Minus, J 2010, ‘Police used excessive force, say Bosevski brothers’, The Australian, 4 October.

Toovey, J 2010, ‘Footage shows batons used in deadly brawl’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 October.  

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The legal system, police and the media

“The future authority of the criminal justice system may well depend on how the system appears not just to those directly involved in the system, but to all citizens. That, in turn, may depend heavily on how criminal justice manages its image in the electronic media” (Sherman 2002, p.29). However, television and media values conflict with the legal institutions values. In order to make a television series successful, the entertainment business must give what audiences crave the most, which is putdowns and conflict. For example, let’s take the television program “Judge Judy, where this portrays an in-you-face image of what a judge would be like. She is rude, controlling, in power but also treats people equal in a sense. This example is what audiences want to watch because they find it funny even though this image has nothing to do with the reality of how the legal system really works. In reality judges and magistrates would not treat a criminal in this way because everyone deserves a fair trial and is innocent until proven guilty in my eyes. The people of today don’t really care much about what really happens and all they want is pure entertainment as this allows them to believe what they are seeing.

Comical representation of police arresting suspect

In regards to police controlling crime, the television business through crime shows has implicated that the authorities will apprehend the offender straight away once the crime has been reported. This depiction is far from the reality of the work of police. For example, a significant proportion of cases involving serious street crime don’t even make it to the stage of prosecution (White & Haines 2008).

Police arresting suspect
When it comes to the fictional representations of the police, the entertainment world often portrays them with having special qualities such as having the ability to fight criminals with martial arts and giving them big guns in order to make them look superior and meaner in some way. The central theme around most crime fighting television series is the use of violence being justified because of the nature or type of criminal the police are dealing with. It is through this depiction that policing is misrepresented as the mundane aspects such as research, interviewing, looking over case materials are all absent.

Another interesting fictional account of police through television is that they don't report to anyone and should not be accountable to anyone as they can take the law into their own hands and no one will question them because in a sense they are on "our" side. However, this portrayal of police is not as true as recent television series such as "Underbelly" and "The Shield" has told a different story. These shows have portrayed police officers as being the criminals where they steal, bribe, use illegal drugs, plant and destroy evidence, force confessions and so on. Both shows are said to be fictional but three examples that revealed systematic and widespread corruption in Australia paint a different picture. These three examples include the 1989 Fitzgerald inquiry into Queensland police, the 1997 Wood inquiry into New South Wales police and the 2002 Royal Commission into Western Australia police. The following video gives a summary of the findings of the Royal Commission and outlines how corrupt police can really be. 

White, R & Haines, F 2008, Crime and Criminology – An introduction, 4th edn, Oxford University Press, USA.

Sherman, L 2002, ‘Trust and confidence in criminal justice’, National Institute of Justice Journal, no. 248, pp. 22-31.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My ideas...

The media, television and film have influenced the ways in which public perceptions of law enforcement and criminals have been shaped. The images of police from television and movies shows how different representations of law enforcement exist and if these representations reflect reality where the media might come into play. People need to understand and be aware of the media moulding the public’s perceptions of law enforcement officers and criminals that exist in our society that may not be entirely true in reality.

There is also a considerable gap that exists between the media’s portrayal of policing and real life law enforcement as well as television and film almost glorifying criminals. Therefore media portrayal of policing is juxtaposed with both positive and negative representations. As a result, a complex relationship exists between media consumption and public attitudes towards the police.

Positive representation of police - doing their job!!!!

Negative representation of police - brutality!!!

The media displays a negative and positive image when it comes to police officers. Society sees both sides from the media by reflecting how they view police in their own communities. In our communities we also see police getting shot or often finding themselves in a bad situation. The police are here to protect us and to serve the communities to the best of their abilities. However there are negative images that exist among society that are showed to citizens by the media and television programmes that allow us to see and hear about police officers, which include corruption or brutally beating harmless suspects in their custody. The positive images would be that they have saved an innocent life in a hostage situation. The media portrays the police in many different ways. We need to realize that the police are on our side and that they are human just like everyone else.

The television shows that we see on television today are both helpful and harmful to the profession. For example, “Highway Patrol” and the “Recruits” are based on real life situations and we actually see what police officers go through on a daily basis. This profession is very dangerous and you have to be prepared for whatever comes your way. These two factual television series are helpful is some ways because it gives society an inside look at police officers in action and allow us to feel safe because they are doing their jobs and apprehending criminals. The television series “Underbelly” portrays police officers as corrupt cops working together with criminals in order to get rich and live the high life without apprehending them. It also shows police brutality in action and those police officers will even betray their own when it comes to a life and death situation. This image of police officers is in some ways harmful to how society sees police officers but also gives the sense that corruption and police brutality does exist and opens a giant can of worms for politicians, the police force and the media of course have a field day with it.