Topic 9 B

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Victim surveys- introduction

In Victim surveys a sample of the population either Locally or nationally is asked which offences have been commited against them over a period of time.

they are designed to overcome the short comings of under reporting crime to official bodies

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CSEW- Methods

Victim surveys attempt to gain a better understanding of the reality of crime that is provided by

  • official stats. The CSEW is a face to face survey which originally targeted between 8000 to 11000 people between 1983 and 2006. 
  • The 2008 survey conducted 46,983 face to face structured interveiws with a sample of people aged 16 and over living in private households in England and Wales.
  • 22 interveiwers use laptops to record responces
  • The sample is randomly selected from the post code adress file and designed to be nationally representative in order to gerneralise the results to the country as a whole.
  • the overall responce rate in 2007 was 76% allthough this is lower in inner city area's
  • Pre coded closed questions with fixed choice awnsers to make it easy to quantify and turn into stats
  • interveiws take 48 mins
  • questions are on peoples personal experience of property crimes such as buglary and violent crimes such as assalt.
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CSEW- Findings

  • In the 90's they found only 1 in 4 crimes were reported to the police suggesting official stats were only the tip of the iceberg however latest CSEW stats show the gap between crime reported to police is at its most narrow since 1983 confirming that crime is now falling.
  • The magority of crimes in 2009 are still property related
  • property crime is a fifth (21%) compared with police stats (19%)- however half of violent crime involves no injury and since 2007 BCS violent crime has fallen by 12%
  • The risk of becoming a victim of crime has fallen from 24% to 27% representing nearly 1 million fewer victims- only 3% of adults had experienced a violent crime in the last year.
  • Suggested women worry more about all crime apart from vehicle crime. However it showed those who fear crime the most (elderly women) are the least likely to be victims compared to those who fear crime the least (young men) who are the most likely to be victims.
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CSEW Evaluation - Strengths

  • Provides a better reflection of the extent of household and personal crime as it includes crime unreported to police.
  • Higher in validity than OCS as they uncover the dark figure of crime
  • Unaffected by cheanges to police counting rules
  • Structured interveiws increases reliability as questions and responces are standadised.
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CSEW Findings- Limitations

  • Doesn't cover commercial victimisation ie theft
  • excludes victimless crimes i.e drugs
  • Ellington- non representative of national population as owner occupants and 16-24 year olds are over representated whilst the unemployed are under representated.
  • Relies on victims having an objective knoladge of the crimes commited against them- peoples memories of traumatic events are often un reliable
  • People may be un aware their victims espec children and eldery
  • Marxists- the general public are unaware that they are victims of corporate crime
  • Pillkington- They distort the meaning of their numbers. Violent and sexual assalt may make up a small proportion of the numbers but it has a disproportionate traumatic effect on victims,
  • Realists- CSEW tell us little of the day to day experience of living in a high crime area such as an estate.
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Local crime surveys- Islington Crime Survey

  • The CSEW is a typical cross section survey and so may contain errors and doesn't provide detailed information about particular places leading to a number of detailed studies of crime focussing on particular area's sucvh as the Islington Crime Survey
  • Mehtods
  • Detailed interveiws
  • 1,600 people living in  Islington
  • Demographically representative sample.
  • Findings
  • 30% has been or known victims of street robbery in the previous year
  • fear of crime greatly effected behaviour of women in the area 26% age 16-24 27% aged 25-54 and 68% over 55 ver went out at night alone. 
  • 74% of women restricted their movements as precautions against crime
  • the reaserch concluded that "its not an exageration to conclude that many women in inner urban area's live ina state of virtual curfew"
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Ethnicity and Victim Surveys

  • Victim based studies such as the CSEW are gatherede by asking victims of crime their recolection of the ethical identity of the offender.
  • According to the British Crime Survey the magority of crime is intra racial with 88% of white victims stating that white offenders were involved. 3% claiming the offenders were black  1% asian 5% mixed
  • 42% of crimes against black victims were identified as being commited by Black offenders and 19% of crimes against Asians were Asian offenders but the figures of white crimes agaisnt ethnic minorities are much higher- 50% though this figure needs to be seen against the fact 90% of the population is white
  • Asking a victim for a description of the criminal is shot with problems such as only 20% of crimes are personal crimes such as muggings where the victim may see the offender.
  • Bowling and Philips- argue victims are influenced by radical steryotypes and "culturally determined explanations" as to who commites crime and they argue where the offender isn't known white people are more likely to assume its someone of caribean origin.
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Strengths of victim surveys

  • They uncover the reasons why people don't report crime
  • this aproach overcomes the fact a significant proportion of offenses are never recorded by the police
  • gives an excellent picture of the extent and patterns of victimisation - something completely missed by official accounts
  • under 16's take part
  • The CSEW has a significant influence over social policy showing crime is commited against spesific groups of people - mainly young men and in spesific areas- mainly inner city and agoining zones
  • they also show those not in high risk groups are unlikely to be victims
  • The CSEW lead to changes in 1997 and 2002 in how police categorise crime
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Weaknesses of victim surveys

  • Basing stats on victims memories is difficult as recolections are often faulty or biased.
  • The catgorisation of what crimes had been commited against them is left to the person filling in the questionair- leads to considerable inacuracy in categories
  • Marxists- Victim surveys also omit a range of crimes such as fraid and corporate crime, and any crime where the victim is unaware or unable to report a crime
  • The CSEW doesn't cover the population living in care homes, halls of ressidence or the homeless
  • Feminists- Despite being anonomous people appear to under repot sexual offenses and dom violence.
  • Interveiw effect.
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