A study of the National statistics relating to crime

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This assignment focuses on the National Statistics relating to crime. Official government statistics are collected from the public, police forces and other justice agencies. Crime statistics focus on the different types of crime and who commits them.

By using official statistics the government is able to look at the way crime is reported and recorded. It is able to show how members of the public perceive crime and the police. Statistics are used to see how the police use their powers and the types of crime that are committed and by whom e.g. race, gender, age etc... The Criminal Justice Service statistics are used to demonstrate convictions against offenders.

The British Crime Survey collects statistics relating to crime in a different way by using a sample of households in England and Wales and compiling 1 to 1 interviews. Residents are asked about their experience of crime-related issues, the police and the criminal justice system over the past 12 months. The survey has generally been limited to those over 16 but a new experimental interview is being conducted on children aged 10-15. The BCS data is more reflective of society as it covers crimes that have not been recorded by the police. This makes the BCS is important in the role of gathering official statistics.

Self-report studies are also used in recording crime mainly by sociologists. It uses a questionnaire to ask participants about their experiences of crime and whether it has been recorded by the police or not.

Whilst the official statistics provide an insight into reported crime it does not, as shown by the BCS and self report study truly reflect the extent of all crimes committed. It can highlight areas of crime that the public do not report such as rape and domestic violence. Corporate and white collar crime is victimless and also under represented in the national figures. As children are not allowed to be interviewed for surveys, child abuse and crimes against children are also under represented.

The statistics can be used to identify trends in crime and policing. By looking at the Official Crime Statistics it appears that more men commit crime than women. Theorists say this could be due to biological or physiological factors. Women are innately different to men with a natural instinct to be nurturing and caring. James Q Wilson (1985) suggested that "Young men are everywhere more likely than females or older persons to commit common street crimes, because of the way nature and nurture combine to make male children more impulsive and aggressive and less concerned with the well being of others than females and adults." (p93) C AND D.

The sex-role theory suggests that women commit less crime because they are socialised differently whilst growing up. Heidensohn (1986) said "men are raised to be more aggressive, women are socialised into not being criminal in the same way as men are socialised into seeing criminal activity as acceptable." HANDOUT .They lack opportunity to commit crime due to the narrow range of roles they have access to Abbott and Wallace (1990) argue " young women are more closely watched by their families and given less freedom outside the home, reducing their opportunities for crime." HANDOUT

The Transgression theory stems from feminists feeling that there was not enough research based on women and crime and that criminology as a subject was male orientated.

Crime by females has increased over the years, some sociologists feel that the feminist uprising may have contributed to this F. Alder (1975) suggests "It should come as no surprise that once women are armed with male opportunities they would endeavour to gain status, criminal as well as civil ", other theorists feel that the breakdown of traditional roles in the family may have something to contribute to this rise in crime. Heidensohn (1985) argues that " women are particularly vulnerable because they are so economically exploited; If they lose the 'protection' of a man they may turn to crimes such as prostitution as the only way to earn a reasonable living." Harralambos p418.

This assignment looks next at crime and ethnicity. Afro Caribbean people are 7 times more likely than white or Asian to be in prison, which must mean one of two things; Afro Caribbean's commit more crime or the criminal justice system is against them and is racist HANDOUT. The police heavily patrol inner city suburbs where a higher proportion of ethnic minorities live. The police concentrate on street crime which is associated more with black offenders. The Macpherson report (1999) concluded that "the police were institutionally racist and that the court system is biased towards ethnic minorities." Blom-Cooper and Drabble (1982) "found that, when similar acts were committed, black people were likely to be charged with more serious forms of the offence than whites". Landau and Nathan (1983) "found that whites received cautions rather than being prosecuted more often than black offenders who committed similar acts". Bowling and Philips (2002) stated "Once in prison, black people are stereotyped as dangerous and are treated more harshly by officers, who overlook brutality by other inmates. Black prisoners are less likely than whites to get early release." High unemployment rates amongst young black males may force them into subcultures where they see crime as their only option.

There is evidence from the British Crime Survey to suggest that Afro-Caribbean's and Asians are at greater risk of victimisation. David Smith (1997) p78 c and d feels "this is because they tend to live in more dangerous areas and revenge attacks within the same ethnic groups. These types of crime are underrepresented in the National Statistics as they are not reported to the police."

The last part of the assignment looks at class and crime. "There are more working class people in prison than any other social class, and Home Office figures show that the majority of people who appear in court are working class, regardless of whether they're found guilty or not." A level HANDOUT. High rates of unemployment, little or no education and the breakdown of the traditional family unit are all factors in why more working class people are in prison but it cannot realistically state that it is only the working class that commit crime. In an article from the Daily Mail (2007) a report by Professor Susanne Karstedt and Dr Stephen Farrall of Keele University, published by the respected Centre for Crime and Justice Studies states "The middle classes are showing an unprecedented contempt for the law, with two thirds admitting to offences such as tax evasion or hiking up insurance claims, a survey suggests."..." The most common crime is striking a "cash-in-hand" deal with a builder or other tradesman to avoid tax."..." "This research demonstrates that volume crime is far more widespread, with the middle class being responsible for a wide range of illegal activities." This study shows that it is not just the working classes that commit crime; they just commit different types of crime. This new wave of middle class crime or white collar crime is generally not highlighted and is seen as not as important as it is victimless. There are very few convictions for this type of crime and again are underrepresented in the National Statistics.

In conclusion the National Statistics are a bench mark for crimes being committed in England and Wales, they help to show trends in crime and without them new legislation and laws could not be made or updated. However, they cannot show the true extent of crime as cases of unreported crime will always exist.