Forensic psychology


Problems in defining crime


  • Deviance involves breaking societies norms and values
  • Crime involves breaking the law


  • Issues with things like culture- crime is dealt with differently in all cultures. Making all research ethnocentric based on where the research was carried out
  • Things differ like the age of crime is 10 in England and Wales while in Scotland it is 8 but is being raised to 12 and in most European countires it's 14.
  • The definition of crime changes with time, hitting your child only became outlawed in 2004
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Ways of measuring crime: official statistics


  • Official statistics are gorvernment records and based on the crime reports of the past year. Published by the hime office annually.


  • Official statistics lack validity (not all crime is reported like domestic violence against men is under reported)
  • May lack reliability as some police forces don't record petty crimes like stealing something worth less than £10
  • Only the number of criminal acts is counted and not the number of criminals as there may be few criminals that are comitting the majority of crime.
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Ways of measuring crime: Victim surveys


  • Crime Survey For England and Wales selects 50'000 homes to document any crimes they've endured in the past year


  • Respondants may mix up the year a crime happened and write about a crime that happened a year prior (known as telescoping)
  • Some people may not realise a crime has happened as they may think an item was misplaced rather than stolen
  • However, these surveys may be higher in validity than official statistics as victims may be more liekly to report trivial offences as they may be something the police wouldn't have recorded.
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Ways of measuring crime: Offender surveys


  • Offender surveys- indiciduals volunterring mumber of crimes they have committed.
  • Tend to target groups of likely offenders based on 'risk' factoes like age or backgorund.


  • Lack validity as criminal may not be truthful about the true number or can't remember all of their crimes details.
  • The dark figure of crime hampers all methods to meauring crime as not all crime is made public to the people.
  • All mehtods with meauring crime have reliability and validity issues, a multidisciplinary approach may be better or combining all three to get the true statistic of crime.
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