Self-report studies and ethnicity

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In contrast to both official stats, which measure the outcomes of the actions of criminal justice agencies, and victim surveys, which are only able to reveal the ethnic identity of offenders for a small proportion of crime, self-report studies address the question of offending directly. Self-report studies ask people whether they have been engaged in criminal and disorderly behaviour.



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The major study conducted in Britain which expressly pays attentions to the question of ethnicity is the Home Office study, “Young People and Crime”. Based on a large sample of young people, ‘this study found that #white and black respondents had very similar rates of offending (44% and 43% respectively), while Asian respondents- Indians (30%), Pakistanis (28%) and Bangladeshis (13%)- had significantly lower rates’.



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This study challenges the widespread view that the rate of offending of Black ethnic groups is higher than that of the White ethnic group. And it supports the suggestion that the rate of offending of Asian groups is somewhat lower. However, we cannot infer that this study reveals the true rate of offending. Self-report studies rely on the honesty of respondents and exclude from their sample people in institutions who may be more involved in offending. They also underplay the more serious offences.

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