Problems in defining and measuring crime

  • Created by: grestabi
  • Created on: 11-12-18 15:25
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  • Problems in defining and measuring crime
    • Official statistics
      • Government records of all recorded crime in the previous year, based on police reports. Published by the Home Office annually.
      • Lack validity as not all crime is reported or recorded by police, e.g. domestic violence against men is under reported.
      • Lack of reliability as there are differences between police forces about which crimes are recorded, e.g. some police forces don't record thefts if under £10
      • Overall picture may be misleading as they count the number of criminal acts, rather than the number of criminals, e.g. it could be that relatively few criminals are responsible for majority of crime in an area
    • Victim Surveys
      • Crime Survey for England and Wales selects 50,000 households randomly and asks them to document any crimes they have been a victim of in the past year.
      • Respondents may get years mixed up and report a crime happening in that year when in fact it was the year before. Known as telescoping.
      • Some people may be unaware that they have been a victim of crime, e.g. thefts of items in garden sheds may not be noticed until much later or may be mistaken as misplaced, not stolen.
      • Much higher in validity than official statistics as more trivial crimes are more likely to be reported as they may report crimes that they wouldn't report to the police due to it being a 'waste of time'
    • Offender Surveys
      • Involves individuals volunteering the number and type of crimes they have committed. Tends to target likely offenders based on 'risk' factors like previous convictions, age, social background etc.
      • Lacks validity as offenders unlikely to be truthful about the real extent of their criminality. may also be that they can't accurately remember exactly how many crimes they committed and when they took place.
    • As all of these methods have validity and reliability issues, they are hampered by the 'dark figures of crime' (unreported crime). It may be better to take a multidisciplinary approach and use all three methods to gain a better overall picture of UK crime.


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