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Use our A to Z to find out what means what in the world of crime. Understand the consequences of getting caught up with the law and know where to turn if you need further help or support.
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Use this guide to find out more information about all of the different types of crime and where to access further information, advice, help or support.
ABH (Actual Bodily Harm) is assault when you cause someone actual bodily harm for example breaking someone’s nose or causing bruising. The maximum sentence for ABH is 5 years.
An abusive relationship can affect people of any age. It can happen in any type of relationship to all kinds of couples. Whether these are male/female relationships or same sex relationships. The abuse can occur in all sorts of different ways and is often used as a way to control a person – EG, Violent Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse, and Financial Abuse.
Acid attacks are a violent assault on victims and leave devastating injury. Acid is thrown onto the victim with one purpose to injure, harm and maim. This type of attack is often used as a way of showing dominance, power and control. The intention of this type of attack is for someone to live with the injuries caused for the rest of their lives. If you carry out an acid attack you could face life imprisonment.
Affray is a public order offence and you could be found guilty if you have used or threaten to use violence towards another and if your behaviour cause's people present at the scene to fear for their personal safety.
The maximum penalty is 3 years' imprisonment and/or a fine.
There are two different types of animal cruelty:
If found guilty you can be fined, sent to prison and banned from keeping animals for a specific period of time or for life.
Arson is when you deliberately set fire to someone else’s property e.g. bins, buildings, cars. Fires are easy to start and can spread very quickly without you realising it. It is against the law to commit arson and anybody found guilty of this could go to prison under the Criminal Damage Act 1971.
Antisocial behaviour is when you act without considering others. Examples of antisocial behaviour include: Noisy behaviour in quiet streets, dropping rubbish on the street and setting off fireworks late at night.
Bribery means to try to make someone do something for you by giving them money or gifts, it is a criminal offence and you could receive a maximum sentence of up to ten years in prison, a fine or both.
Burglary is when you steal something from a building e.g. someone’s house or a school. If you take a weapon with you this is classed as Aggravated Burglary which is more serious and could result in a long prison sentence.
Cash in transit robberies (CIT) is the transfer of physical money from one location to another. CIT robbery of a courier or van is treated as a very serious offence as they are often violent. If you are caught committing a CIT robbery or acting as a look-out to assist a robbery you will be charged.
Common assault is when you are violent or cause someone to fear violence e.g. hitting them or threatening them. You don’t actually have to physically assault someone to be charged with common assault. Sentencing could mean six months in prison or a fine up to £5,000.
County lines or 'going country' is the name given to a tactic used by drugs gangs. Gangs look to move their drug dealing outside of their normal operating area in order to establish themselves as the main dealers in a new area, usually a seaside town or market town outside of a big city like London. In order to establish themselves they often use violence and exploit local vulnerable people (young & old) in order to help them achieve this. It has become increasingly popular over the recent years with children as young as 12 running drugs from big cities to home.
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse where a person (child under the age of 18) is groomed into taking part in sexual activity. The grooming can take place online or in person and it can also be carried out by a family member or complete stranger. The victim is usually tricked into this behaviour by the promise of gifts & money.
Cuckooing is the taking over of a vulnerable persons home to use and sell illegal drugs from for a short period of time. The individual may have a mental/physical illness or may be promised free drugs in exchange for their house. The vulnerable person may also be sexually and physically abused throughout this process. Since 2015, there have been 187 individuals guilty of cuckooing in the South of England.
Cyber bullying is when someone bully’s online. It includes sending abusive or threatening emails or messages, sharing images or personal information without consent or posting nasty comments on social media.
Also sometimes known as 'acquaintance rape' as you might have just met the person but it can also happen with someone who you know very well. Even if you've consented to sex with someone in the past, it doesn't mean they have a right to have sex with you again against your will. Sometimes the person might trick you into taking a drug making you more vulnerable and easier for them to have sex with you.
Disability crime is the name given to any crimes that are committed against someone as a direct result of their disability. For example writing insulting graffiti on someone’s property, attacking or assaulting someone or bullying (online or in person) just because of their disability.
Domestic abuse describes the behaviours that one person does to another within a family and/or relationships. This behaviour can include verbal threats, put-downs, controlling behaviour and violence
Violent abuse can be one factor of an abusive relationship. The violence can include experiencing physical harm from a partner that kicks, hits, punches, throws or even just threatens to do these things. These acts of violence are considered as assault.
You can be arrested for using, having or supplying illegal drugs. It doesn’t matter if you have a small or large amount, you can still be found guilty. Dealing drugs is more serious than using or having them on you. So if you sold drugs to your mates and got caught the sentence would be longer. Class A – up to life in prison and/or an unlimited fine Class B/C – up to 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
Emotional abuse can be another factor of an abusive relationship. This can happen when a person puts you down, threatens you and controls you to act or behave in a certain way. This type of behaviour can be very manipulative and can be classed as harassment.
Female Genital Mutliation (FGM) also known as female cutting or female circumcision is a cultural practice which involves the removal of some or all of a female’s vagina. FGM is illegal in the UK. The FGM Protection Order offers the means of protecting actual or potential victims from FGM under civil law. Breach of an FGM Protection Order is a criminal offence carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Financial abuse can be another factor of an abusive relationship. Asking someone for money, taking money or not giving money to a partner to be controlling are just some examples. Not allowing a partner to work to make their own money can also be a form of control. This type of behaviour is very manipulative and can be classed as harassment.
A gang can be a group of friends that all like doing the same things. The word takes on a new meaning when a group of friends gets involved in criminal activity. Although it is not illegal to be a member of a gang, much of the activity that criminal street gangs get caught up in is for example – drug dealing, violence and abuse.
Gang rape or ‘gang banging’ is when a group of people rape one person. The victim of the rape is often younger than the group and is often drugged with drugs or alcohol. This type of rape is sometimes linked to gang initiation ceremonies where potential gang members have to rape someone to be allowed into the gang.
GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm)/serious assault - means you’ve caused someone serious injury, e.g. a broken bone or stab wound. It’s more serious than ABH and means you could receive a life sentence if found guilty.
If you are stopped by the police and you have a tool on you such as a screwdriver or a crowbar you could be accused of going equipped to steal.
The police will then need to prove that the item you have with you is an item that you intend to use to commit a theft or burglary. Depending on the circumstances and any previous criminal history you could receive a community order or a maximum prison sentence of up to three years.
Graffiti is when you scratch, paint or mark someone else’s property and is a form of criminal damage. On-the-spot fines of £50 can be given to anyone caught doing graffiti on public property. These can be given out by police officers, community support officers or local authority officials.
Grooming is the name given to the process that an abuser will use to control someone, it can happen both in person or online. By building an emotional connection with the victim the abuser gains their trust. This could then lead to further manipulation, sexual abuse or exploitation. This is the first step to child sexual exploitation. Groomers can get up to 10 years in prison.
Guns can be used in a number of different types of crimes and are used to scare, injure and kill people. Crimes like robberies, hostage situations and murders can all involve guns. If you are caught hiding/holding a gun for someone else you could be convicted and given a sentence up to five years in prison.
If you are looking after, transporting, selling or passing on any item that you know is stolen you could be found guiltly of Handling Stolen Goods. The punishment for this offence would depend on how valuable the items are and by how involved you were.
Harassment is when you act in a way to make someone feel distressed or threatened. It could be someone from school, people from your local area or a complete stranger. Harrasment can include things like ongoing abuse & bullying online or more physical things like smashing windows or damaging cars. Often, if carried out repeatedly, it will lead to offenders being charged with a more serious offence.
Hate Crime is when you commit a crime against someone because you are prejudice against a person or an entire community’s individuality. This could be as a result of their religion, race, sexual orientation or disability. You could be accused of committing hate crime if you send nasty emails or social networking messages that are making fun of a person’s individuality. It can also include people becoming physically aggressive to someone because of the same reasons, recently this can be seen as acid attacks. Hate Crime offenders can be sentenced for a minimum of 1 year in prison.
This is the name given to people who are prejudice against gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people. Prejudice means that an individual or group has hatred, intolerance and often fear against a particular group of people. This could lead to them committing homophobic crime for example, attacking, assaulting or bullying someone just because the person is LGBT.
Hooliganism is disruptive or unlawful behaviour such as rioting, bullying or vandalism and is often associated with football. Groups known as 'firms’, who support different teams, arrange to meet each other to fight. Football Banning Orders - are designed to stop troublemakers from travelling to football matches. The punishments for breaking the rules of these orders can be 6 months in prison or a £5,000 fine.
Trafficking is another word for modern day slavery and is the name given to people who are bought and sold into exploitation. It is the selling and buying of people across countries borders and to different communities for profit. Human trafficking can happen to anyone; men, women or children. There also many different types of trafficking some of which are: organ harvesting, forced labour and domestic servitude. Globally trafficking is considered the 3rd most common crime in the world behind Drugs and Guns.
Hustling has a couple of different meaning’s. Criminally it means to make money illegally - for example selling drugs or dealing in stolen goods. Sentencing would depend on the actual crime commited.
Incest is when you have sex with a close member of your biological family, e.g. brother, sister, parent or grandparent. If you commit incest, you could face up to 14 years in prison. If it involves an adult and a child, it’s even more serious and can count as paedophilia.
Joyriding is the act of driving fast and dangerously in a stolen car for enjoyment. Joyriders tend to be aged between 16 and 25, but are sometimes as young as 10. If you are found guilty you could face a prison sentence or a fine. If you already have a driving licence you could receive a ban from driving.
Kidnapping is when you take someone away and hold them against their will, this is usually done by force and is a very serious offence. The maximum sentence you could receive for kidanapping is life imprisonment. One infamous kidnapping case is the case of Madeleine McCann which is still unresolved.
Knife crime includes any crimes that involve the use of a sharpened weapon or blade. It is illegal to sell or buy a knife to anyone who is under 18yrs old. Carrying a weapon to protect yourself is still a crime in the eyes of the law and in fact you are much more likely to become a victim of knife crime if you carry one. Possession of a knife can carry a prison sentence of up to 4 years even if it's not used.
Legal highs are substances which produce the same or similar effects to illegal drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy & cannabis and can also look very similar to illegal drugs. They are distinguished by their content rather than their effect and therefore avoid being classified as illegal substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
New laws surrounding legal highs came in to force in May 2016. The Psychoactive Substances Act will ban the production, supply, distribution and sale of legal highs. There are also tougher sentences of up to seven years for offenders.
Legal highs include synthetic cannabinoids, laughing gas and spice.
Manslaughter is when you kill someone by accident e.g. throwing a brick off a bridge causing a car to crash which kills the driver. You could receive maximum life sentence if found guilty and depending on the circumstances.
Murder is when you kill someone on purpose, e.g. stabbing them. It’s more serious if you plan it in advance and it carries a maximum life sentence in prison if you’re found guilty.
Nuisance calls are calls that are not threatening or offensive, but they cause annoyance or anxiety to the victim, such as silent calls or calls at unsociable hours. Making nuisance calls is not an offence but if they are causing stress to the victim the police may consider investigating them as harassment.
Obscene content is when you have words or images on a site (or social networking profile) that could offend other people, eg; racist words that could encourage hatred of others. This also includes sending images on your phone, even if they’re images of you (known as sexting) which could also end up online.
Paedophilia is when an adult has or wants to have sex with children who haven’t reached puberty. It’s illegal for adults to have sex with children, under the age of 16, or even to try to have sex with them. It’s also a crime to take photos or record sex with children. Paedophilia is a really serious crime and the punishment can be life in prison.
Prostitution is when you buy or sell sex for money or in exchange for something else like drugs. You don’t have to buy or sell sex to be guilty of prostitution, hanging about on street corners trying to sell sex still counts. Prostitution is closely linked to other types of crime including drugs, human trafficking, paedophilia and violence. Buying or selling sex isn’t illegal but trying to is, e.g. advertising it or driving around looking for it. If you’re involved in prostitution, you could get up to 7 years in prison.
Many people think racial hate crime is about committing crimes against people because of the colour of their skin – whilst this is true it also includes things such as people’s culture, nationality and even their language. Like all hate crimes the police will treat crimes fuelled by racism more seriously. For example writing insulting graffiti on someone’s property, attacking or assaulting or bullying someone (online or in person) just because of their nationality.
Radicalisation is the process where someone has been influenced to adopt extreme religious, social or political views and will usually support terrorism and violent acts.
Revenge Porn is when you share private sexual photos or videos, of another person usually an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, without their consent to upset them. It is a criminal offence and those found guilty could be sentenced for up to two years in prison.
Rioting is the act to take part in any violent public disturbance. This includes fighting in the streets, violent public disorder and vandalisim, it is usually caused by a group or a large crowd of people. Rioting is a serious offence which is likely to result in a fine or prison sentence.
Robbery is when you use or threaten to use force to steal and is considered more serious than theft. Sentencing for robbery is dependent on the type of robbery committed. For example; commiting a violent robbery using a weapon would mean that you would receive a much longer sentence.
Sexting is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit text, image or video. This includes sending ‘nude pics’, ‘rude pics’, or ‘nude selfies’. Taking, possessing or sharing a sexually explicit picture or video of someone under 18 is against the law. It doesn’t matter if they gave you permission, someone else sent it to you, you’ve never met them before, you are under 18 too or it’s a selfie. You and anyone else involved could be investigated by the police, and this could even affect your future education and employment.
If you are over 18 and you send an image of yourself to someone who is also over 18, this is not a crime. However, you should consider the other consequences of sending and sharing images.
When someone uses sexual images/videos that you have produced of yourself to bribe you for money by threatening share these images/videos with your friends of family or publishing them online.
They usually get these videos by creating fake online accounts and grooming victims into sharing content with them.
Shoplifting is a type of theft. It is when you steal items from a shop without paying for them. If you are caught shoplifting you will almost certainly be banned from ever shopping at that store again! You may also be given a Civil Recovery Notice – this note is from the shop and outlines how they plan to recover the money that they have lost through your actions. People ages 16+ may also face a £80 fixed fine called a Fixed Penalty ticket.
Stalking is repeated, unwanted and obsessive behaviour from another person that makes you feel scared and upset. This can include watching/following you, messaging/ calling you and threatening to hurt you or your family. The maximum sentence if found guilty of stalking is 5 years in prison.
This is when you’re over 16 but the person who’s agreed to have sex with you is under 16. If the person is under 13 then it’s even more serious. The maximum sentence for statutory rape is life in prison.
Terrorism is the illegal act of threat, violence and intimidation for political or religious purposes. The number of terrorist attacks, especially in Western Europe, have been increasing since the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York. A few of the recent terrorist attacks include the Westminster attack, the Manchester bombings and the Berlin attack which all had one main aim, to create fear in the public.
Vandalism is damaging or destroying something that isn’t yours. You don’t need to damage something to be found guilty of vandalism you could be caught carrying a brick with the intention to throw it through a window or threatening to damage someone’s property. Vandalism is a criminal offence and depending on the amount of damage done you could receive either a fine or a prison sentence.
This includes any situation where someone uses violence or threatens to use violence against a victim. Violence can be part of a number of different crimes including robbery, assault and gang crime. Recently, acid attacks have been used as a form of violence specifically throughout London.
It’s an offence to carry a knife or a gun, even if it is an imitation you will be arrested and could be prosecuted. Using a weapon whilst committing a crime is considered more serious and you are much likely to receive a longer sentence.
Xenophobia is having a fear or extreme dislike of foreign people, their customs, religion, culture etc. Whilst it is not a crime to be Xenophobic if you commit a crime motivated by xenophobia that would be considered a hate crime which is a criminal offence.
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