To conditioned the extent of the dark figure, the official crime statistics are looked at. Since such statistics are published regularly, there would seem to be no difficulty in assessing crime rates, but this assumption can be seen quite flawed. Many criminologists have emphasised that we cannot take official statistics at face value, they state that they do not record all reported crime. "The amount of crime in society gets known when it is reported to the police, through public response to victim surveys and studies of offenders who admit committing crime, and when transmitted to other agencies, such as hospital accident wards, battered women's refuge centres and similar ones" (Young 2001). Other than these, the amount of crime committed is unknown. That unknown volume of crime that is not reported, thus not registered, in criminal statistics constitutes the dark figure of crime.
In many cases, a crime will either be unrecorded or unreported. Such crimes remain anonymous and so would not be counted in statistical data relating to crime. 'The dark figure of crime' is the term used to describe this. Criminologists have attempted to analyse and attempt to assess the size of the so-called dark figure of crime. The only way thus far has been to estimate or guess the figure, but the estimated figures differ between criminologists, although they all agree that much of it goes undetected, many estimate over 50%.(Williams.K,2001). In 2001 the BCS estimates that 56% of the comparable subset were recorded. Thefts of and from cars and burglaries with loss are most likely to be recorded; attempted burglary, theft from the person and common assault are the least likely to be recorded" (Home office).
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People must decide to report the crime to the police. But sometimes after weighing up the pros and cons, decide that it simply isn't worth their while. Or they may decide that the bother of having to go to the police station, and then subsequently to court, is just too great - if someone has stolen your bicycle, and you know that your chances of getting it back are virtually zero, you may decide simply to write the loss off and buy another one, or to use the bus in future. Again, it may be that the criminal is a close friend or relative of yours, and you decide that friendship or the relationship is more important than the accuracy of the official crime figures. Wives often refrain from reporting physical violence on the part of their husbands, because they wish to remain married to them, and still have positive feelings despite the physical abuse. A mother whose adolescent son steals large sums of money from her purse will not usually report the theft to the police, nor will she report the fact that her son is a drug addict. Children who are sexually abused by their parents may not wish to tell anyone what is happening because they still love the parent. Witnesses may also decide that they can themselves deal with the offence in a more satisfying manner than the police could ; the brother or father of a raped girl may decide that he should avenge her himself, rather than subject her to the indignities of a court appearance.
It seems likely that people are more willing to report a crime if they have a financial incentive to do so. If your house is broken into and the thieves run off with your stereo equipment and the television, your chances of getting the goods back are extremely low. You will, however, probably report the loss, because the insurance company insists on the crime having been reported to the police before they will pay compensation. Indeed, it has been suggested that part of the growth in figures for burglary through the 60s was due to a reporting phenomenon linked to the growing number of people who insured their houses against the crime.
Another factor that may hinder the usefulness of victim surveys is to what extent do respondents fabricate victimization. (Levine 1976) argues that "respondents are responsible and trustworthy, having nothing to gain by making things up" however it is quite plausible that some respondents, not wanting to disappoint the interviewer, may recall incidents, which happened to friends or neighbours rather than to themselves personally. For instance, with the crime problem so high on the media agenda, therefore embedded in the mind of the public, respondents may feel that something should be done, and fabricate events in the hope it will somehow help. This consequently may result in over representation of certain crime figures victim surveys obtain.
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The BCS as a victim survey is also not particularly useful in uncovering dark figure crimes concerning individuals less than sixteen years of age. Therefore, incidents such as child abuse and criminal activities, which is usually associated with young offenders, for example, vandalism, will not be recorded by the BCS. This highlights that although the BCS may be useful in uncovering certain aspects of dark figure crimes, it does not however deal with victims of crime who are under sixteen. Therefore, the reliability and usefulness of the BCS cannot possibly be accurate. However, there are many smaller scale victim surveys that do include those under sixteen, they are not as large as the BCS so consequently can not be a representation of the dark figure crimes.
Self-report surveys ask how many times people have participated in a crime. "Self-report surveys ask groups of the population how many times they have participated in criminal activity" ( Croall, H. 1998 ) . From the self report survey young people age 16-20.
16-20 had 60%, 20-24 had 15%, 25-30 had 15%, and 31-40 had 10% and 50 and over had 0%. Age 16-20 are most likely to commit crime this is because they have more freedom and time, they have the energy to do it and they don't need to work to earn money for their family so they have more spare time then others unlike older age groups like 50 or over as they earn more money then others through their pensions and life savings and don't have enough energy to do any crime. Using questionnaires and interviews to collect information self-report studies ask the participant to admit to the number of crimes they have committed. . "The methods used in order to measure this area of crime are 'self report studies, victims surveys" (Williams, 2004). ). Such methods are a great indicator of the true representation of crime and disclose a higher level of crime than recorded by the police service.
It concludes that in exploring the dark figure of crime , the primary question is not how much of it becomes revealed but rather what will be the selective properties of any particular innovation for its illumination. Any set of crime statistics , including those of survey research , involve some evaluative, institutional processing of people s reports .
Victimization surveys and self-report questionnaires probably underestimate the true amount of crime committed. They can only record certain types of crime, those with an obvious victim. They do not include drug offences, prostitution, and white-collar crimes, although it may be more likely victims will report these in the confidentiality of such surveys, rather than go to the police. Victimization surveys also rely on victims' memories and their ability to define an act as a crime. Minor criminal acts may be forgotten, not regarded serious enough to record, or not seen as a crime. There is very little possibility that the dark figure can be uncovered through the official statistics. However, they could be improved to include more crimes, and manage the classification and recording of reports more accurately.