Official Statistics –
- Official statistics are provided by government agencies related to the law. For example, they are provided by the police and courts. Often these statistics show that certain groups are more likely to commit crimes than others. In Britain and the USA, for example, it has been consistently shown that the working class, males, the young and some ethnic minorities are more likely to commit crimes than those not in these social categories.
- Many sociologists base their theories of crime and deviance on these official statistics (Merton, Cohen, Cloward and Ohlin, Miller), so it is important to see how reliable and accurate these statistics actually are to ensure that these theories are credible.
- Official statistics provide data about:
- The total number of crimes committed in any given year, allowing year by year comparisons and the total amount of crime.
- The social characteristics of offenders, such as age and gender.
- Only recorded crimes manage to make their way into official statistics, but in order to get recorded crimes must first be:
- Brought to someone’s attention
- Reported to an agency
- Confirmed by the agency that the law has been broken
- If a crime does not have a specific victim, such as white collar crimes, then the crime may not be brought to anyone’s attention. This means that the crime will not be classed in the official…