Measuring Crime SCYL4

Few points on methods used to measure crime, specifically self reports and official statistics :)

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  • Created on: 14-04-13 12:02
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Official Statistics
+ Lots of data
+ Can be gathered quickly
+ Cost effective
+ Easy to compare the data between social characteristics of ps, year and
+ Specific to crime
+ Easy access - lots of publicity
- Lots of unreported crimes
- Cannot determine cause and effect
Positivists say statistics represent an objective truth or social facts about the extent
to crime. Interpretivists argue caution must be taken when using official statistics.
They prefer to put the emphasis on who collected them and alternative explanations
for reasons as to why such results occurred.
People may not report crimes because:
They think their crime is too trivial
Lack of trust and faith in the police
May think it's a private matter
Fear of reprisal from person they are reporting
They have also done something illegal and don't want to get into trouble
Factors influencing police recording crimes:
Offence isn't 'important' enough
victims gender, class, age and ethnicity
Their subjective way of classifying crime
Victim surveys = asking a local/national sample if they have been a victim of crime,
and if so, if they reported the crime, the police response and further action. These are
carried out by the Home Office every year.
+ Overcome the fact many crimes are never reported or recorded by the police.
+ illustrates extent and patterns of crime
+ easily comparable as they are collected every year
- people may not realise they have been a victim of crime
- victims may forget or have biased/distorted recollections
- victims may still keep quiet for a previous reason
Self-report study = anonymous questionnaires, asking the sample if they have
committed an offence, and if so, if they were reported and sanctioned.
+ provides details of the social characteristics of criminals
+ help uncover victimless crimes e.g. fraud or vandalism
+ identifies changing patterns of offending
- questions and location may differ from year to year
- victims may over or under exaggerate crimes

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