Forensic Psychology A01 Only

Explain two problems in defining crime (6 marks)

Crime might be defined as any act that breaks the law and therefore warrants some form of punishment. However the legalistic definition is complicated by the idea that laws are subject to change and that not all acts which break the law are punished.
One problem in defining crime is there are cultural issues. What is considered as a crime in one culture may not be judged as a crime in another. One example of this is example of laws surrounding marriage. In the UK having more than one life is a crime of bigamy. However in some cultures polygamy is considered legal. In 2014, forced marriage was made illegal, whereas in some cultures this is still practised.
A second problem with defining crime is historical issues. This is the idea that crimes change over time. A parent's right to use corporal punishment as an act of discipline was made was outlawed in the 2004 Children's Act. At one time in history homosexuality was considered a crime punishable by the law. However in 1967 this changed. Homesexuality is an example of how some behaviours judged to be criminal may be historically and culturally specific. As there are many African and Asian countries where homosexuality is considered illegal still.

Describe at least two ways of measuring crime (6 marks)

There are three ways in which crime is measured; official statistics, victim surveys and offender surveys.
Official statistics are government records of the total number of crimes reported to police and recorded in the official figures. These are published by the Home Office on an annual basis and are a useful ‘snapshot’ of the number of crimes occurring across the country and in specific regions. This allows the government to develop crime prevention strategies and policing initiatives, as well as direct resources to those areas most in need.
Another way crime is measured is through victim surveys. These surveys record people’s experience of crime over a specific period. The rime survey for England and Wales asks people to document the crimes they have been a victim of in the past year. In order to compile the figures, 50,000 households are randomly selected to take part in the survey and this has enabled the office for national statistics to produce crime figures based on victim surveys since 1982. In 2009, a separate survey was introduced to record the experiences of younger people aged 10-15, and the complete results are published on an annual basis.
The final measurement of crime is offender surveys. They include individuals volunteering details of the number and types of crimes they have committed. These tend to target groups of likely offenders based on ‘risk’ factors such as previous convictions, age range, social background, etc. The offender crime and justice survey (OCJS), was the first national self-report survey of its kind in England and Wales. As well as measuring self-reported offending, the OCJS looked at individuals of repeat offending, trends in the…


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