Crime and Official Statistics

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Isabelle Bradshaw (4025)
Crime Statistics Essay Plan
1) Introduction
The Government publishes official statistics on crime in Britain annually. The main source of these
statistics are gathered from recorded crimes by the police and courts and through the Crime Survey of
England and Wales (CSEW) which is a largescale victim survey conducted annually by the Home
However, sociologists believe there are a number of factors that influence these figures and that these
official statistics do not reflect a true representation of crime in Britain today.
2) Official Crime Statistics
Official crime statistics are used to:
establish the volume of crime over a certain period of time
find trends and patterns in the crime statistics
give and to provided characteristics on people who are most likely to commit crime according to age,
gender, social class and ethnicity.
The CSEW has shown that in January 2016, there was been a 6% decrease in crime from 2015 and
there was a 6% increase in recorded crime. A large part of this is thought to be due to improved
compliance with national recording standards by police forces in the last year.
+ Collecting official statistics on crime and deviance is cheap and they are readily available due to the
Home Office publishing they annually and they can be downloaded by anyone with internet access.
+ They are high in reliability and representativeness. Statistics cover a large part of the population and are
collected by the state and they ask a set of structured questions.
+ They give a wide ranging picture of social observable fact in terms of crime and deviance. Also they
have excellent comparative value in that they allow the examination of trend over time.
Official statistics are not a valid measurement of crime. A lot of crime is not reported due to fear of being
attacked or embarrassment and the police may not record crime if it is too trivial or if they do not think
that a crime has be perpetrated.
Some crimes are not thought to be crimes and depend on the victims' definition of crime. For example,
a fight may turn into assault. Also, not all crimes have an obvious victim, this means that they are less
likely to be reported for example white collar crime (e.g. embezzlement).
The dark figure of crime (unreported or undiscovered crime) shows the incompetence of the official
statistics process because it causes people to believe that the official picture that is created by these
statistics is not complete and therefore inaccurate.
The police might influence the figures. For example, if there is a clamp down on possession of illegal
drugs it may lead to more arrests and more prosecutions.
3) Victim Surveys
Victim Surveys involve asking individuals about their experiences of crime, their fears of crime and their
views on the criminal justice system. Two main types of victim surveys have been carried out: local (e.g.
Islington Crime Survey) & national (e.g. CSEW).
+ Gives us an idea of the amount of unreported crime
+ Gives us an idea of the amount of fear surrounding crime

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Isabelle Bradshaw (4025)
+ Helps us to build up a profile of the likely victims
There may not be a victim or people may not know that they are a victim. E.g. prostitution
People might lie or may not be able to remember
National surveys only give us the national picture but there may be regional differences. E.g. The
Mercyside Crime Survey.
Regional surveys do not give us the national picture. E.g. The Islington Crime Survey.…read more

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Isabelle Bradshaw (4025)
confirmation, otherwise known as verificationism, which means that a fact can only be believed when
there is completely firm evidence supporting the fact. Working on this assumption, positivists therefore
are very open minded, and read into statistics in a number of ways.
7) Conclusion
Official statistics are useful in showing an overall picture of crime but primary quantitative methods (victim
surveys) provide an invaluable means of highlighting limitations of OCS.…read more


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