Official crime statistics

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How is crime measured?

Crime is measured using many different methods
Secondary data - OCS (Official Crime Statstics) collected by gpvernment.
Advantages of using OCS to measure crime = quick, easy and cheap method. trends can easily be seen, allows comparisons to be made.
Disadvantages of using OCS to measure crime = not fully representative, socially constructed, may be based on definitions which sociologists do not agree with.

Victim surveys - taken from victims of crime and show the statistics relating to victims. Collected using structured interviews.
Advantages of using victim surveys to measure crime = focus on victims point of view. Allows trust and rapport. Qualitative data.
Disadvantages of using victim surveys to measure crime = hard to replicate - unreliable. Time consuming and expensive. Victims may not be fully honest or embarassed to be open about it.

Self reports - questionnaires carried out about crime and experiences of crime.
Participants kept confidential to ensure validity.
Marsh - validity is questioned by over reporting and under reporting, under reporting is due to retrospectiveness and memory. Overreporting is due to exaggerating crimes or keeping quiet.

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Are OCS socially constructed?

Interpretivists - OCS are social construction, focusing more on media influence, socialisation, victims etc rather than the actual crime itself. OCS also do not account for all UK crime. There is dark figure of unreported and unrecorded crime.

Dark figure of crime
Tax and VAT fraud are not included (committed by wealthy and powerful).
The police committ 'coughing' in which they persuade people to admit to crimes they havent committed in order to clear up the rates.
Mainly ethnic minority do not report crimes due to no faith in policing.
Some may fear humiliation or embarrassment.
People do not realise they are victims (white collar crime).

OCS tells us about the increase in crimes which have been reported but not crimes which have been actually committed.
OCS juvenile crimes may just be in response to media representation, stereotyping and folk devils. Moral panic leads to devincy amplification in which statistics artificially rise.
Some crimes are seen as victimless. Public report more property crimes (materialistic society).

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Intepretivists - OCS tell us more about the quality of policing rather than crime itself. Young, working class and afro caribbean are higher crime due to being targetted and profiled.

Smith, Grey and Cicourel - Police stereotype in order to assume what is considered 'criminal' or suspicious.

Holdaway, Bowling and Phillips - racial profiling by some police is used to stop afro carribbeans.
Afro carribbeans are 6 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police and the police carry out a canteen culture in which they take on and maintain racist ideas.
Bowling and Phillips - 'driving while black' concept.
Holdaway - Older officers often use racist language.

Feminist criminoligists - women are less likely to be charged 'chivalry factor'.
Pollack - 49% females are given caution. 30% males are given caution.

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Inequalities can also be seen in the courts.

Young, middle class and female = more likely to be found not guilty.

Hood - black people are 17% more likely to get prison sentence than white people.

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Marxists criticism of OCS

OCS are collected by capitalists in order to serve the ruling class. They perform an ideological function. Whoever has the power to create these statistics is also manipulating public ideas and views. The ideological function of the OCS is to criminalise young working class people.

Box - OCS divert attention away from middle class crimes and things such as WCC and corporate crimes. The punishments are not as severe for WCC than for working class crimes. The rich 'kill, injure and steal'.

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OCS are collected by government as a measure of crime.

Interpretivists - OCS are socially constructed and they focus more on different factors such as socialisation and the media rather than showing real crime rates.

Policing is racist and targets young afro caribbean males. Smith, Grey, Cicourel. - stereotyping to assume criminals.
 Phillips, Bowling - driving while black
Heldaway - canteen culture and racism.

Courts are reluctant to charge females, there exists a chivalry factor. 49% females cautioned, 30% men.

Marxists - OCS support capitalists. Their ideolgical function is to criminalise the young and working class. Box - do not punish WCC enough. Rich and powerful 'steal, injure and kill'.

Left Realists - Young and Lea - the OCS is an accurate account of crime, young and black people do committ the most crime.

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