Mike Sutton (criminologist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Michael Robert Sutton (born September 1959, Orpington) is an ex-reader in criminology in the School of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University, where he established the now defunct Centre for Study and Reduction of Bias, Prejudice and Hate Crime and is co-founder and chief editor of the Internet Journal of Criminology. He was joint winner of the 1998 British Journal of Criminology Prize for his research on hackers, and publicised the market reduction approach for tackling theft. Sutton has published journal articles on the subject of inter-racial relationships and violence.[1][2]


Sutton was born in Orpington in Kent. He enrolled at the University of Central Lancashire for a Bachelor of Arts in Law, graduating with BA (Hons.) Law in 1983.

Home Office[edit]

At the UK Government's Home Office, Sutton was a senior research officer, initially in the Department for Research Statistics and Development, and then later in the Policing and Reducing Crime Unit. He was on the team that evaluated the unit fines experiment in the UK,[3] the findings of which led the British Government to implement means-related fines.[4] At a national level the results proved disastrous and the legislation was rapidly repealed following a media outcry.[5] In 1996, he was part of the team that evaluated the £50m Safer Cities Project, finding it cost effective in reducing domestic burglary.[6][7] With respect to the change in the program by its coordinators, from a programme directed largely towards primary prevention, largely towards implementing more offender-oriented schemes, Pease (1997)[8] quotes from Sutton's 1996 evaluation, "This is a strikingly thought-provoking result, given that the situational measures adopted were subsequently found to have been cost-effective in reducing burglary".[9]


According to the Oxford Handbook of Criminology (2012),[10] Sutton made an early contribution to identifying the, "A priori, economic factors [… f]or a crime to occur", namely the means for converting stolen goods into financial gain,

The capacity to commit crimes of various types will be affected by economic developments. The availability of illegal markets for stolen goods, and the shifting attractiveness of different goods on them, will structure changes in crime patterns (Sutton 1998;[11] Sutton et al. 2001;[12] Fitzgerald et al. 2003;[13] Hallsworth 2005[14]).

personal and social factors in a contemporary adolescent sample, and, for the first time ever in criminology, presents concrete evidence that crime occurs when (and only when) people with specific personal characteristics take part in settings with specific environmental features under specific circumstances.

Market Reduction Approach[edit]

Sutton emphasized the stratagem for crime reduction, by targeting the opportunity to profit from stolen goods and so removing the initial incentive to steal. He called this tactic, the Market Reduction Approach (M.R.A.) and was described as classic research[15] by Marcus Felson, co-innovator along with Lawrence E. Cohen of the routine activity approach to crime rate analysis.

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[16] that most significantly contributed to academic knowledge in the field that year. This article influenced the work of UK Government Foresight Panel on Crime in 2000.[17]

Sutton's early research into vandalism[18] identified Peer Status Motivated Vandalism as the seventh sub-type of vandalism that was missing from the typology created by Stanley Cohen.[19] 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.[20]

A 2007 Home Office-funded Government research report co-authored by Sutton, Getting the Message Across[21] on the best use of media for reducing racial prejudice and discrimination, found that the UK Government, and many of its departments and funded bodies, have been wasting resources on publicity that could have made the problem worse.


Spinach is sometimes wrongly claimed to be a good source of iron. However, this myth is often also wrongly explained by researchers misplacing a decimal mark.[22] Mike Sutton showed that there almost certainly was no decimal error involved in deriving the wrong iron content of spinach.[23] Later analysis also supports the idea that the true reason for the misestimation of the iron content of spinach are "unreliable methods or poor experimentation".[24]

References to this decimal error story often lead back to T. J. Hamblins article "Fake!" in the British Medical Journal from 1981.[25] However, this article is neither the original source nor does it provide any proof or reference for the decimal error story. Mike Suttons inquiry lead T. J. Hamblin to conclude that "even by the turn of the twentieth century errors in earlier measurements were readily apparent without the need to invoke decimal places."[26]

Patrick Matthew and natural selection[edit]

In 2014, Sutton published a non-peer reviewed e-book, Nullius in Verba: Darwin’s Greatest Secret,[27] alleging that Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace plagiarised the theory of natural selection from Scottish grain merchant and arboriculturist Patrick Matthew. Matthew had published On Naval Timber and Arboriculture in 1831, twenty-eight years before Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

Darwin biographer James Moore declared it a "non-issue", and said that "I would be extremely surprised if there was any new evidence had not been already seen and interpreted in the opposite way.".[28]

Sutton's claim that Darwin and Wallace plagiarised evolution by natural selection from Matthew has been refuted through detailed comparison of the competing theories: ironically, they are too dissimilar to share the same origin.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Johnston, P. (2000) How means-tested justice will affect you. Telegraph. 7 Jul. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1347170/How-means-tested-justice-will-affect-you.html
  5. ^ Law Society Gazette (1993) Mixed verdict on Clarke U-turn. 19 May. http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/mixed-verdict-clarke-u-turn
  6. ^ 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 (1996)
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ Maguire, Mike, Rod Morgan and Robert Reiner, eds. (2012) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. OUP.
  11. ^ Sutton, M.R. (1998) Handling Stolen Goods and Theft: A Market Reduction Approach. London: Home Office http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110220105210/rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/hors178.pdf
  12. ^ Sutton, M.R., Schneider, J., and Hetherington, S. (2001) Tackling Theft With the Market Reduction Approach. London: Home Office.
  13. ^ Fitzgerald, M., Stockdale, J. and Hale, C. (2003), Young People and Street Crime, London: Youth Justice Board.
  14. ^ Hallsworth, S. (2005) Street Crime. Cullompton, Devon: Willan. p. 112
  15. ^ Felson, M. (2010) Crime and Everyday Life. Fourth Edition. Thousand Oakes. Sage. p. 88.
  16. ^ NetCrime (1998)
  17. ^ http://www.foresight.gov.uk/Crime%20Prevention/Futire_Crime_Prevention_Mindset_Kit_March_2000.pdf
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ Cohen, S. (1973) 'Property Destruction: Motives and Meanings’, in C. Ward (Ed.) Vandalism, London: Architectural Press
  20. ^ http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/Williams%20-%20Understanding%20King%20Punisher%20and%20his%20Order.pdf
  21. ^ Mike Sutton, Barbara Perry, Jonathon Parke and Catherine John-Baptiste (2007) Department for Communities and Local Government http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/611667.pdf
  22. ^ Rekdal, Ole Bjørn (1 August 2014). "Academic urban legends". Social Studies of Science. 44 (4): 638–654. doi:10.1177/0306312714535679. ISSN 0306-3127. PMC 4232290. PMID 25272616.
  23. ^ Sutton, Mike. "The Spinach, Popeye, Iron, Decimal Error Myth is Finally Busted".
  24. ^ Dagg, JL. "Natural Histories - Spinach-Iron".
  25. ^ Hamblin, T J (19 December 1981). "Fake". British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Ed.). 283 (6307): 1671–1674. doi:10.1136/bmj.283.6307.1671. ISSN 0267-0623. PMC 1507475. PMID 6797607.
  26. ^ Hamblin, Terry (23 December 2010). "Spinach - I was right for the wrong reason".
  27. ^ Sutton, MR (2014) Nullius in Verba: Darwin's Greatest Secret. Thinker Media, Inc. (when question about the validity of the ebook, the editor dismissed intervention on the grounds that, "Dr Sutton's book was one of our best sellers". They confirmed that their publications were not peer reviewed, "We are a publishing platform, not a publisher, operating under the US Law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which gives us tremendous freedoms and legal protections, but it requires us to be completely hands off the content and the authors. All work that is in compliance with our Participation Policy (PP) by an identity-verified author is published. … I am very familiar with traditional peer-reviewed publishing. We are simply doing something different here" Bob Butler CEO Thinker Media, pers. comm. JF Derry 25-July 17). See also, refutation by Dagg (2018)
  28. ^ Knapton, Sarah (28 May 2014). "Did Charles Darwin 'borrow' the theory of natural selection?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 February 2015.. Not according to Dagg (2018)