Mike Sutton (criminologist)

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Michael Robert Sutton (born September 1959, Orpington) is a Reader of Criminology, in the School of Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University, where he established the Centre for Study and Reduction of Bias, Prejudice and Hate Crime and is co-founder of the Internet Journal of Criminology. He has been awarded the British Journal of Criminology Prize for his research on hackers, and introduced the Market Reduction Approach for tackling theft.

Sutton has sought to establish himself as a sceptical enquirer, by testing the truth of certain well-established understandings, such as, the earliest use of a word, or phrase, Supermyth concept and the IDD research method. In 2014, he used the BigData-IDD method to find books, which bust the 155-year-old myth started by Darwin that no naturalist known to him had read Patrick Matthew's prior publication of the full theory of natural selection. Mike uniquely discovered seven naturalists had cited Matthew's book before 1858. Darwin knew four and three played major roles at the epicenter of influence on Darwin's pre-1858 work on natural selection.

Sutton is the founding General Editor of the open access Internet Journal of Criminology.[1] 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.[2][3]


Sutton was born in Orpington in Kent but, at some point, moved to Lancashire, in the north-east of England, where he attended Ormskirk Secondary Modern School. He enrolled at the University of Central Lancashire for a Batchelor of Arts in Law, graduating with BA (Hons.) Law (1979-1983), continuing on to temporarily cover a lecturing post law, and hold various administrative roles, while undertaking doctoral study, which he completing in 1987,

I originally wanted to be a solicitor, which is why I studied law. By the time I enrolled for my PhD I wanted to work as a Home Office researcher. Within a year of graduating, the Home Office selected me from several thousand applicants. I stayed with them for 14 years before embarking on an academic career in criminology.

Home Office[edit]

During his time at the UK Government's Home Office, Sutton's role was as 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,[4] the findings of which led the British Government to implement means related fines.[5] At a national level the results proved disastrous as the legislation was rapidly repealed following a media outcry.[6] In 1996, he was part of the team that evaluated the £50m Safer Cities Project, finding it cost effective in reducing domestic burglary.[7][8] 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.”.[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.

Sutton identified a stratagem for crime reduction, by targeting this opportunity to profit from stolen goods, thereby (partly[15]) removing the initial incentive to steal. He called this tactic, the Market Reduction Approach (M.R.A.) which has gone on to have a significant influence[citation needed] upon theory and practice regarding stolen goods markets[examples needed] and markets for other illicit commodities,[examples needed]. and was described as classic research[16] by Marcus Felson, co-innovator along with Lawrence E. Cohen of the routine activity approach to crime rate analysis.

Criminologist Roger Hopkins Burke, also at Nottingham Trent University, said that Sutton’s earlier work on the M.R.A.: “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."[17] His general M.R.A. principles have influenced work beyond research into markets for theft of high volume consumer goods, since the M.R.A. is described as underpinning recent research into illicit markets for cultural artefacts[18][19] and as a useful method for tackling the trade in endangered species.[20][21]

Described as a valuable analysis in the Oxford Handbook of Criminology,[22] Sutton's Market Reduction Approach to theft was independently evaluated by criminologists from the University of Kent[23] 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"[24] 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 M.R.A. 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.[25]

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[26] that most significantly contributed to academic knowledge. This article influenced the work of UK Government Foresight Panel on Crime in 2000.[27]

Sutton's early research into vandalism[28] identified Peer Status Motivated Vandalism as the seventh sub-type of vandalism that was missing from the typology created by Stanley Cohen.[29] 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.[30]

Sutton's Home Office funded Government research report Getting the Message Across[31] 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.[32]

Sutton's M.R.A. 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[33] and outlining five key market types that show how the most commonly stolen goods are sold.

Patrick Matthew and natural selection[edit]

In 2014, Sutton published an e-book, Nullius in Verba: Darwin’s Greatest Secret,[34] alleging that Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace plagiarised the theory of natural selection from Scottish naturalist Patrick Matthew. Matthew had published On Naval Timber and Arboriculture in 1831, twenty-eight years before Darwin's On the Origin of Species, but Darwin claimed that neither he, nor any naturalist he knew, had read Matthew's work. Sutton rejects this claim, identifying seven naturalists who cited the book before 1858, and that three of those (John Cloudius Loudon, Prideaux John Selby and Robert Chambers) were well known to Darwin and his associates. He also analysed similarities between Darwin's, Wallace's and Matthew's writings, particularly unpublished essays by Darwin and Wallace's 1855 Sarawak paper that was published in a journal edited by Selby. Sutton points out that Loudon was the editor of two influential papers on species and variety written by Blyth and that Chambers wrote, anonymously, the influential Vestiges of Creation.

Sutton's claims garnered media attention,[35][36][37] and a paper on the topic was also accepted for the British Criminology Conference that year.[38] Sutton's university, Nottingham Trent University, has backed his claims,[39] but 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.".[37] On The Patrick Matthew Project website, Dr Mike Weale, of Kings College, London, published his position paper on Sutton's findings, a statement of reply by Sutton, and provided a link to Sutton's position paper.[40] Until March 2015, only one picture of Matthew existed in the public domain. On March 13, 2015, Sutton exclusively published newly unearthed pictures.[41] In May 2015, in light of the unique discovery by Sutton - contrary to the prior majority view that absolutely no naturalists had read it - that in fact seven naturalists, four of whom were well known to Darwin, and two known to Wallace, had both read and cited Matthew's book before 1858,[42] Nottinghamshire artist Gabriel Woods completed the allegorical analogy in oils on canvas 'Immaculate Deception' depicting Darwin's and Wallace's claimed independent discoveries of Matthew's prior published hypotheses.[43]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ Law Society Gazette (1993) Mixed verdict on Clarke U-turn. 19 May. http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/mixed-verdict-clarke-u-turn
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ 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)
  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. ^ Wikström, P-O H., Oberwittler, D., Treiber, K. and Hardie, B. (2012). Breaking rules: The social and situational dynamics of young people’s urban crime. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  16. ^ Felson, M. (2010) Crime and Everyday Life. Fourth Edition. Thousand Oakes. Sage. p. 88.
  17. ^ Hopkins Burke, Roger ( 2005) An Introduction to Criminological Theory. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Press. p. 45
  18. ^ Mackenzie, S. (2007) Dealing in cultural objects: a new criminal law for the UK. Amicus Curiae. Issue 71.
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ Schneider JL. (2008) ‘Reducing the Illicit Trade in Wildlife: The Market Reduction Approach’. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24:274–95
  21. ^ 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
  22. ^ Maguire, M. Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (2007) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology. Oxford. Oxford University Press. See page 797.
  23. ^ http://kar.kent.ac.uk/1898/1/Home_Office_Development_Practice_Report_17.pdf
  24. ^ 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
  25. ^ 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
  26. ^ NetCrime (1998)
  27. ^ http://www.foresight.gov.uk/Crime%20Prevention/Futire_Crime_Prevention_Mindset_Kit_March_2000.pdf
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Cohen, S. (1973) 'Property Destruction: Motives and Meanings’, in C. Ward (Ed.) Vandalism, London: Architectural Press
  30. ^ http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/Williams%20-%20Understanding%20King%20Punisher%20and%20his%20Order.pdf
  31. ^ http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/611667.pdf
  32. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  33. ^ 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
  34. ^ Sutton, Mike (July 2014). Nullius in Verba: Darwin’s Greatest Secret. Thinker Media. ISBN 9781938240515. 
  35. ^ Caven, Bill (11 April 2014). "Did Darwin copy ideas for Origin of Species?". Scottish Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  36. ^ "Darwin ‘stole’ theory of natural selection". The Daily Telegraph. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  37. ^ a b Knapton, Sarah (28 May 2014). "Did Charles Darwin 'borrow' the theory of natural selection?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  38. ^ Sutton, Mike (2014). The hi-tech detection of Darwin’s and Wallace’s possible science fraud: Big data criminology re-writes the history of contested discovery (PDF). British Criminology Conference. 14. University of Liverpool: British Society of Criminology. ISSN 1759-0043. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  39. ^ "Did Darwin lie about discovery of natural selection?". Nottingham Trent University. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  40. ^ "Matthew's Influence". 12 March 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  41. ^ "New Pictures of Matthew". 12 March 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 
  42. ^ Sutton, Mike (2014). The hi-tech detection of Darwin’s and Wallace’s possible science fraud: Big data criminology re-writes the history of contested discovery (PDF). British Criminology Conference. 14. University of Liverpool: British Society of Criminology. ISSN 1759-0043. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  43. ^ "Gabriel Woods and Matthew Art". 23 May 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2015.