Sociology Power

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  • Created on: 18-02-13 17:34

Official Statistics

Official statistics are drawn from records kept by the police and other offical agancies. They are published by the Home office annually. Socioiologists use  these statistics as a secondary source of data to obtain infomation on a range of crime related issues. 

Why do sociologists use official statistics?

Official statistics on crime are usefull as long as they are used critically. Official statistics provide a cheap and easily available resource. They can show changeover time. They contain a large about of infomation and The data can be combined with the results of victim surveys and self report studies to estimate the "real" rate of crime.

Problems with official crime statistics- Do they tell the whole story?

Although statistics apear to be a straight forward measure of the real level of crime, they need to be treated with caution .Crime recorded by the police represents only a partial picture of the total amount of crime commited. 

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Why all crime is not included in the Official crim


Is crime detected? If a crime is observed and identified as a crime, the police may be informed. However, if a crime has not been detected, it cannot be reported to the police and cannot be counted in official crime statistics. Many crimes therefore go undetected and are not included in Official crime statistics, for example, a thief stealing £5 from a wallet containing £85 may go undetected by the owner and would not be detected as a crime. 

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Why all crime is not included in the Official crim


Someone reports to the police that a crime has been commited or the police observe or discover a crime. However, many crimes are not reported to the police and so they cannot record them. Reasons for not reporting a crime include the following:

  • The victims may fear the consequences from the criminals if they report the crime. 
  • The victims may fear the police.
  • The crime is considered too private, for example, domestic violence. 
  • The victim suffered no loss.
  • The Crime is considered to petty, for example, theft of £5
  • It is though that the police will not be interested and will do nothing.
  • It may be too sensetive of embarrassing, for example, ****.
  • Crime in the work place may not be reported because the company may prefer to dismiss the person rather than involve the police.
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However, one of the reasons for the apparent increase in certain crimes is that people are now more willing to report them to the police. The number of **** cases reported to the police rose from 1200 in 1980 to 5039 in 1994. Increased police sensitivity, specially trained police officers and change in attitudes have all led to an increase in the reporting of such cases. 

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Why all crime is not included in the Official crim


The police decide to record the report of a crime. However only about 40% of the offences reported to the police are actually recorded by them. 

The police may not necessarily record an act as a crime for several reasons:

  • The reported crime is seen as too trivial
  • The reported crime was not actually a crime. 
  • The complainant may decide not to proceed with the complaint
  • The police may decide that there is not enough evidence of an offense having been commited to justify a criminal investigation. 

Official crime statistics therefore lack validity. They do not measure all crime that occurs and therefore they obscure the true extent of crime. Sociologists argue that official statistics ignore the dark (or hidden) figure of crime. A very small proportion of actual crime is ever reported and recorded in official statistics. 

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