Mike Sutton (criminologist)

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Michael "Mike" Sutton (born 1959) is the originator of the Market Reduction Approach (MRA) to theft.[1][2] Described by Marcus Felson as classic research [3] and as a simple idea,[4] Sutton's MRA has had a significant influence upon theory and practice regarding stolen goods markets and markets for other illicit commodities. Influential criminologists have incorporated Sutton’s work on stolen goods markets to explain the issue of offenders’ capacity to commit crimes.[5] Hopkins Burke writes of Sutton’s earlier work on the MRA: “He suggests that judges and their advisors should consider the social harm stolen goods markets do in stimulating the incidence and prevalence of theft – and the unintended consequences of providing subsidies for the illicit sex and drugs industries."[6] The general MRA principles outlined by Sutton have influenced work beyond research into markets for theft of high volume consumer goods, since the MRA is described as underpinning recent research into illicit markets for cultural artefacts[7][8] and as a useful method for tackling the trade in endangered species.[9][10]

Early career[edit]

An alumnus of the University of Central Lancashire, Sutton was born in Orpington in Kent. On graduating with BA (hons) Law and PhD from the University of Central Lancashire in 1987, Sutton worked for 14 years as Senior Research Officer in the UK Government's Home Office Department for Research Statistics and Development, and later in the Policing and Reducing Crime Unit. Sutton was on the team that evaluated the unit fines experiment in the UK,[11] the findings of which led the British Government to implement means related fines.[12] At a national level the results proved disastrous as the legislation was rapidly repealed following a media outcry.[13] In 1996, Sutton was part of the team that evaluated the £50m Safer Cities Project, finding it cost effective in reducing domestic burglary.[14][15] Pease says of Sutton’s 1996 finding in his evaluation of the decision making by Safer Cities coordinators that many turned their backs on what worked in favour of what they believed should work as a “strikingly thought provoking result.”.[16]

Sutton is also the founding General Editor of the open access Internet Journal of Criminology.[17] He is Reader in Criminology, teaches hi-tech crime and crime reduction, and is founding Director of the Centre for the Study and Reduction of Hate Crimes at Nottingham Trent University. In the field of Hate Crimes, Sutton has published journal articles on the subject of inter-racial relationships and violence.[18][19]

Sutton's Market Reduction Approach is currently government recommended crime reduction practice in the United Kingdom,[20] recommended by the United States government,[21] and the Australian government.[22] The New Zealand Ministry of Justice identified eight areas of good practice in using MRA techniques to tackle property crime.[23]


Described as a valuable analysis in the Oxford Handbook of Criminology,[24] Sutton's Market Reduction Approach to theft was independently evaluated by criminologists from the University of Kent[25] who wrote that the theory remains sound but that the police implementing it in Kent (Medway towns) and Manchester in the UK experienced problems doing it properly due to particular policing management/organisational difficulties. Despite the fact that police forces are notoriously resistant to change, the so-called Sutton Bible "Tackling Theft With The Market Reduction Approach"[26] is currently the most popular policing guide to tackling theft by cracking down on thieves selling their loot in stolen goods markets. In addition, Sutton's MRA reveals how to identify and police various types of fence (dealers in stolen goods) and the wider buying public.

Sutton's initial five-fold typology of stolen goods markets was discussed by the Secretary of State in the UK Parliament in 2004.[27]

In 1999 Sutton's virtual ethnography of a smart card hacking group was awarded (jointly with David Mann) the British Journal of Criminology annual prize for the article[28] that most significantly contributed to academic knowledge. This article influenced the work of UK Government Foresight Panel on Crime in 2000.[29]

Sutton's early research into vandalism[30] identified Peer Status Motivated Vandalism as the seventh sub-type of vandalism that was missing from the typology created by Stanley Cohen.[31] Sutton's sub-type was identified years later by Mathew Williams (criminologist) in an article in the Internet Journal of Criminology as the most suitable explanation for the motivation behind the "virtual vandalism" he studied in a 3D Internet community.[32]

Sutton's Home Office funded Government research report Getting the Message Across[33] on the best use of media for reducing racial prejudice and discrimination famously found that the UK Government, and many of its departments and funded bodies, have been wasting scarce resources on unproven and non-evaluated publicity campaigns that could well have backfired and made the problem worse.

Whilst fact checking a well known story about the impact of bad data on policy making, Sutton debunked a long standing academic myth about a misplaced decimal point in biochemistry research influencing the erroneous promotion of spinach as a good source of iron.[34]

Sutton is influential to criminologists, social scientists, police and crime reduction experts, as demonstrated by the number of police forces who use the MRA to tackle stolen goods markets to seek to tackle the root causes of crime: The MRA has been implemented in the UK by Kent Constabulary,[35] West Mercia Constabulary,[36] Derby City Constabulary,[37] Nottinghamshire Constabulary,[38] and Greater Manchester Police.[39]

Sutton's MRA work Handling Stolen Goods and Theft: A Market Reduction Approach provides the most systematic and comprehensive research into stolen goods markets ever undertaken – revealing that in 1994, 11% of the population of England and Wales bought stolen goods in the past five years[40] and outlining five key market types that show how the most commonly stolen goods are sold. The MRA suggests how these markets might best be policed to reduce both demand for stolen goods and their supply by theft.

Since the MRA is quite heavily based upon the Situational Crime Reduction (SCP) approach and uses key elements from Routine Activities Theory (RAT) to seek to reduce the very markets that motivate thieves to steal in the first place, it uniquely solved the problem faced by "administrative criminology" regarding earlier academic and practitioner criticisms that SCP and RAT failed to tackle offender motivation as well as opportunity. Both SCP and RAT have evolved to now incorporate elements from MRA research.[41][42]

International policing guide: stolen goods markets[edit]

Sutton's guide to policing stolen goods markets adds a sixth stolen goods market type to his five-fold typology with the emergence of e-selling. The guide, which is free and open access, is published by the US Government's Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, COPS Programme, as a guide to combating theft with the Problem Oriented approach to Policing.[43]

Big Data Discovery that Patrick Matthew Did Influence Other Naturalists Before 1858[edit]

In 2014 the Scottish Daily Mail (Caven 2014)[44] reported on Sutton's discovery that, contrary to earlier knowledge Patrick Matthew's (1831) book 'On Navel Timber and Arboriculture' [45] had in fact been read by other naturalists before Darwin published the Origin of Species in 1859, because he found the publications that prove they actually cited it in the literature.

Following national UK broadsheet news coverage of Sutton's discovery in The Daily Telegraph [46] The Telegraph's science correspondent (Knapton 2014) reported on the discovery in Sutton's (2014) book: 'Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret'[47] in her official Daily Telegraph science Blog[48]

In 'Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret' Sutton presents the new evidence, which he uniquely discovered with big data research methods. Sutton uses this new evidence to claim that he has proven beyond reasonable doubt that both Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace plagiarised the theory of natural selection from Matthew (1831) and that both committed the world's greatest science fraud by claiming to have discovered natural selection independently of Matthew's prior publication. Sutton's university: Nottingham Trent is backing his claims[49]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Sutton, M. (1998) Handling Stolen Goods and Theft: A Market Reduction Approach. Home Office Research Study 178. Home Office. London. (Peer reviewed national government research report). UK National Archives: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110220105210/rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/hors178.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.popcenter.org/bios/sutton
  3. ^ Felson, M. (2010) Crime and Everyday Life. (see Page 88). Fourth Edition. Thousand Oakes. Sage.
  4. ^ Felson, M. (1998).Crime and Everyday Life. Second Edition. Thousand Oakes. Pine Forge Press.(see page 38).
  5. ^ Maguire, M. Morgan, R, Reiner, R. (2007) Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Oxford. Oxford University Press. (See: page 357)
  6. ^ Hopkins Burke ( 2005) An Introduction the Criminological Theory. Cullompton. Willan Press. (See page 45)
  7. ^ Mackenzie, S. (2007) Dealing in cultural objects: a new criminal law for the UK. Amicus Curiae. Issue 71.
  8. ^ Mackenzie, S. and Green, P. (2003) Criminalising the Market in Illicit Antiquities: An Evaluation of the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1004267
  9. ^ Schneider JL. (2008) ‘Reducing the Illicit Trade in Wildlife: The Market Reduction Approach’. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24:274–95
  10. ^ Lemieux, A. M. and Clarke, R. V. (2009)The International Ban on Ivory Sales and its Effects on Elephant Poaching in Africa British Journal of Criminology 1 July, 2009 49: 451–471
  11. ^ Moxon, David, Sutton, M., and Hedderman, C. (1990) Unit fines: experiments in four courts. Home Office Research Paper 59. London: Home Office. (Peer reviewed National government research report)http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110218135832/rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/rup059.pdf and http://www.getcited.org/pub/102949114
  12. ^ Johnston, P. (2000) How means-tested justice will affect you. Telegraph. 7 Jul.. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1347170/How-means-tested-justice-will-affect-you.html
  13. ^ Law Society Gazette (1993) Mixed verdict on Clarke U-turn. 19 May. http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/mixed-verdict-clarke-u-turn
  14. ^ Ekblom, P. Law, H. and Sutton, M. (1996) Domestic Burglary Schemes in the Safer Cities Programme. Home Office Research Study No. 164. London: Home Office. (Peer reviewed national government research report) UK National Archives: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110220105210/http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs/hors164.pdf \See also Sutton, M. (1996) Implementing Crime Prevention Schemes in a Multi-Agency Setting: aspects of process in the Safer Cities Programme. Home Office Research Study 160. London: Home Office. (Peer reviewed national government research report). US National Institute of Justice. Problem Oriented Policing Centre: http://www.popcenter.org/tools/implementing_responses/PDFs/Sutton.pdf
  15. ^ Welsh ,B.C. and Farrington, D.P. (1999) Value for money? A review of the costs and benefits of situational crime prevention British Journal of Criminology 39:345–368.
  16. ^ Pease, K.(1997) Crime Prevention. In Maguire, M. Morgan, R and Reiner, R. (Eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Second Edition. New York. Oxford University Press (see Page 982)
  17. ^ http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/
  18. ^ Perry, B. and Sutton, M. (2006) Seeing Red Over Black and White: Popular and Media Representations of Inter-Racial Relationships as Precursors to Racial Violence. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume:48 Issue:6
  19. ^ Perry, B. and Sutton, M. (2008) Policing the Colour Line: Violence Against Those in Intimate Interracial Relationships. Race, Gender & Class. Volume 15, Number 3-4, 240–261.
  20. ^ Burglary Toolkit: Developing Local Solutions for Local Problems. Home Office UK Publications. Acquisitive Crime Resources Library online. Burglary Toolkit: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/crime/acquisitive-crime-resources/burglary-toolkit?view=Binary
  21. ^ http://www.popcenter.org/learning/60steps/index.cfm?stepNum=41
  22. ^ http://aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/crm/21-40/crm032.aspx
  23. ^ New Zealand Ministry of Justice. 6 Property Focused Initiatives. http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/r/research-on-the-effectiveness-of-police-practice-in-reducing-residential-burglary-november-2005-report-10.-overview-research-on-the-effectiveness-of-police-practice-in-reducing-residential-burglary/6-property-focused-interventions
  24. ^ Maguire, M. Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Oxford. Oxford University Press. See page 797.
  25. ^ http://kar.kent.ac.uk/1898/1/Home_Office_Development_Practice_Report_17.pdf
  26. ^ Sutton, M., Schneider, J.L. and Hetherington, (2001) Tackling theft with the market reduction approach. Home Office Crime Reduction Research Series Paper 8. (Peer reviewed national government research report) http://www.popcenter.org/problems/bicycle_theft/PDFs/Sutton_etal_2001.pdf
  27. ^ Hansard Written Answers. Bound Volume. Parliamentary Business. 13 May 2004. Column 573W—continued: Stolen Goods. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmhansrd/vo040513/text/40513w30.htm#40513w30.html_sbhd1
  28. ^ NetCrime (1998)
  29. ^ http://www.foresight.gov.uk/Crime%20Prevention/Futire_Crime_Prevention_Mindset_Kit_March_2000.pdf
  30. ^ Sutton, Mike (1987) Differential Rates of Vandalism in a New Town: Towards A Theory of Relative Place. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Central Lancashire, October.
  31. ^ Cohen, S. (1973) 'Property Destruction: Motives and Meanings’, in C. Ward (Ed.) Vandalism, London: Architectural Press
  32. ^ http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/Williams%20-%20Understanding%20King%20Punisher%20and%20his%20Order.pdf
  33. ^ http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/611667.pdf
  34. ^ http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/Sutton_Spinach_Iron_and_Popeye_March_2010.pdf
  35. ^ Joint Report from: Kent County Council Trading Standards; Medway Council Trading Standards and Kent Police. The Kent Acts: A Case For National Legislation. (2001) Report to the Secretary of State. http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/kent/documents/KentAct%20HOreport.pdf
  36. ^ Schneider, J. (2005) Stolen Goods Markets: Methods of Disposal. British Journal of Criminology. 45. 129–140 http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/azh100v1
  37. ^ Sutton, M. (2004) How Burglars and Shoplifters Sell Stolen Goods in Derby: DESCRIBING AND UNDERSTANDING THE LOCAL ILLICIT MARKETS. A Dynamics of Offending Report for Derby Community Safety Partnership. Internet Journal of Criminology.http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/Sutton%20-%20Stolen%20Goods%20in%20Derby.pdf
  38. ^ Nottinghamshire Constabulary South Nottinghamshire Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnership, Partnership Strategic Plan (2008–2011). http://www.rushcliffe.gov.uk/upload/public/attachments/258/south_notts_cdrp_partnership_strategic_plan_200811.pdf
  39. ^ http://menmedia.co.uk/salfordadvertiser/news/s/408732_24m_boost_for_war_on_street_crime
  40. ^ Sutton, M. (1998) Handling Stolen Goods and Theft: A Market Reduction Approach. Home Office Research Study 178. Home Office. London.(Peer reviewed national government research report). UK National Archives: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110220105210/rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/hors178.pdf
  41. ^ https://www.ipam.ucla.edu/publications/chs2007/chs2007_6797.pdf
  42. ^ Clarke, R.V. ( 1999 ) Hot Products. London. Police Research paper 112. Home Office http://www.popcenter.org/problems/shoplifting/PDFs/fprs112.pdf
  43. ^ Sutton, M. (2010) Stolen Goods Markets. Problem Oriented Policing Guide No. 57. US National Institute of Justice COPS Programme. Peer reviewed international policing guide.
  44. ^ http://www.bestthinking.com/thinkers/science/social_sciences/sociology/mike-sutton?tab=blog&blogpostid=21868%2c21868
  45. ^ http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DmYDAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=on+naval+timber+and+arboriculture&hl=en&sa=X&ei=LWDfU-y9HqPQ7Abe34CoBg&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=on%20naval%20timber%20and%20arboriculture&f=false
  46. ^ http://www.bestthinking.com/thinkers/science/social_sciences/sociology/mike-sutton?tab=blog&blogpostid=22019%2c22019
  47. ^ http://www.bestthinking.com/ebooks/science/biology_and_nature/biology/nullius-in-verba-darwin-s-greatest-secret
  48. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10859281/Did-Charles-Darwin-borrow-the-theory-of-natural-selection.html
  49. ^ http://www.ntu.ac.uk/apps/news/158873-15/Did_Darwin_lie_about_discovery_of_natural_selection.aspx