Official crime statistics from June 2010 show an 8% fall in police recorded crime and a 4% drop in offences reported by the British Crime Survey. This problem with statistics like these is that they depend on two key areas – the reporting of crime to the police and the recording of crime by the police.
Unreported crime questions the validity of crime statistics. Some reasons why crimes may be unreported:
Fear of reprisals
The incident may be seen as too trivial to report
Fear or distrust of the police
Embarrassment if it’s a sexual crime
Lack of awareness that a crime has been committed
The police may not report a crime because they do not believe a crime has been committed. The police use their discretion and issue a warning or advice without making it official. The British Crime Survey is an example of a victim survey. Victim survey asks the public whether they have been victims of crime, whether or not they report it to the police. The BCS is an annual victimization survey, using a representative sample of around 47,000 adults living in private households. It uses face-to-face interviews and has a response rate of around 75%. Respondents are asked about their experiences of crime and crime-related incidents in the previous 12 months, and about other issues like the perception of the police, the criminal justice system, crime and anti-social behaviour. The survey includes property crimes such as assault. Along with police recorded crime statistics, the BCS is a major source of evidence used by the Home-Office and other policy makers to track trends in crime and tackle crime prevention.
The BCS has been criticised by anti-positivists for the lack of qualitative data, validity and verstehen. It is also criticised because people do not take questionnaires seriously and give false answers. They are also unreliable because people may have been a victim of crime and they may not realise it. People may also have difficulty remembering…