Patterns of crime

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Official statistics

- Positivist

- collected by the police and published every 6 months

- have been collected since 1800s so can show changing trends

- accurate view of the way the criminal justice system works

- only shows RECORDED crime. 

- only 24 % of all crime is officially recorded by the police.

-shows the role of the courts and the role of the government.

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Theories on Official statistics

INTERACTIONISM: rejects accuracy of crime stats focusses instead on understanding how they are socially constructed.

MARXISM: believes law and its enforcement refelcts the intrests of the ruling class as crimes of the poor are strictly enforced and those of the rich are ignored or not defined as criminal.

FEMINIST: official statisitcs underestimate crime such as **** and domestic violence as police are reluctant to get involved in a private setting.

LEFT REALISM: crime is a genuine problem especially poorer groups crime stats cannot simply be dismissed as inaccurate. they favour victim surveys.

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Victim Surveys

A victim survey is a local or national random sample asking which offences have been commited against people over a certain amount of time. BCS is most common.

+ it gives an excellent picture of who the victims are and why

+ it shows that a significant proportion of offences are not reported

- based on memory so could be innacurate (retrospective data)

- leave out a large range of crimes such as corporate crime

- under 16s crime is not recorded

- despite being anonomous people still underreport domestic crimes.

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Self Report Studies

Survey in which a selcted group or cross secion of the population are asked what offences they have commited.

self report studies show less gap between male and female crime rates.

+ very useful in revealing information about offenders who have not been detected by the police

+ most useful way to find out what sort of crimes are commited

- bragging factor

-ethical issue

-representativeness is limited

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