Process Of Constructing Crime Statistics Criminology Essay

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Carrabine et al, 2002, p. 5: '…no government or police force has ever succeeded in producing totally accurate maps and measures of crime.' Page 9: Young men dominate official statistics on violence as both offenders and victims, crime statistics have consistently found the typical offender to be male (over 80% of offenders known to authorities of which almost half are under the age of 21). Pubs, clubs and streets provide the main locations for their encounters with violence, whilst for women the home remains the place of most danger. Pg. 15: The official crime figures for England Wales exclude cases of tax and benefit fraud dealt with administratively by the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise and Department of Social Security. New legislation has created new offences, modified the definitions of others and therefore changes the 'official' picture of Crime in Britain. There's widespread acceptance that whatever crime figures tell us, they only represent the tip of an iceberg and politicians and senior police officers routinely warn against accepting crime statistics as 'hard facts' and refer to the 'hidden figure' of crime unreported to and unrecorded by the police.

Pg. 16: not all crimes are reported because they could be excluded to avoid work or to improve the clear up rate, or it's a result of police inefficiency and bureaucracy. Recorded crime figures can be affected by changes in counting rules. For example in 1998, the practice of recording only the most serious of a chain of offences in one incident was replaced by recording once crime for each victim. Therefore increasing the amount of recorded violent crime from around 350,000 cases in the year ending March 1998, to around 600,000 cases during the next 12 months. Also the numbers of offences discovered by the police are subject to fluctuations in law enforcement activities. High profile planned operations against a particular type of offence (e.g. street crime, or drugs) will inevitably bring about an increase in arrests and the discovery and recording of many new offences in the targeted areas. Conversely, numbers may fall due to police disinterest in a particular type of crime. Pg. 17: crime statistics do not provide an 'objective and incontrovertible measure of criminal behaviour. Instead they fluctuate according to the organisational constraints and the priorities of the criminal justice system' (Carrabine et al, 2002). Property crime has high reporting rates, crimes of violence, sexual assaults and minor thefts have normally resulted in low reporting rates. Crimes against certain victims are more likely to be hidden. The more socially vulnerable the victim and the more private or intimate setting of the crimes commission, the less visible the crime and the less likely to be publicly recorded. Pg. 18: crime surveys only measure criminal incidents where a victim can be identified or where a victim accepts such a status. Depend on honest and forthcoming interview, which may be difficult for victims of sexual assault. Respondents may not always remember incidents properly, a problem which increases with the length of the recall period. BCS only covers households, residents in private households and exclude those that live in communal establishments such as the mentally ill. And other marginalised groups such as the homeless who may be subject to a higher risk of crime victimisation, therefore crime surveys must be interpreted with caution.

Home office, 2010/11 statistical bulletin pp. 15-16: The National Statistician (2011) recognised that crime is a fundamentally problematic phenomenon to measure and that neither police recorded figures or those from CSEW 'can produce a count of 'total' crime' (The Home Office Statistical Bulletin 2010/11, pp. 15-16).

Croall, 2011, p. 48: Looking at data collected for England Wales, police recorded statistics use a number of technical terms and broad categories, and their meanings must be clarified to give a better picture of the crime recorded. p. 51: police records do not include criminal prosecutions made by other law enforcers such as those by British Transport Police (Maguire 2007). The statistics rarely provide information about the seriousness or circumstances of offences, how are they categorised and counted and many factors may affect how offences and offenders are counted (Maguire 2007) (Croall, 2011).

Perhaps crime statistics provide more of an insight into official definitions of crime, crime recording and policing practice than into actual levels of unlawful activity (Carrabine et al. 2009, p.39). Tierney (2006) argues that crime is behaviour that breaks criminal law and 'it is impossible to give any accurate answers as to how much crime exists and how many criminals and victims there are.'

(Carrabine et al, 2002, p. 57) state that technologies in communication have allowed for new forms of law breaking such as software piracy, sales frauds and hate crime. These forms of cyber-crime remain under represented in the official statistics and under policed by law enforcement agencies (Wall, 1997, 2001).