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The Measurement of Crime: Official Crime Data

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1 The Measurement of Crime: Official Crime Data

2 Police Statistics on Crime (UCR)
Uniform Crime Reports Begun in 1930’s

3 UCR FBI receives data from more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies (voluntarily reporting) For the most part, agencies submit monthly crime reports to a centralized repository within their state. The state UCR Program then forwards the data to the FBI's national UCR Program. Coverage: 90% in cities, 87% in rural areas

4 UCR includes Crimes reported to local law enforcement agencies
The number of arrests made by police agencies

5 Clearance Crimes are cleared in two ways:
1. When at least one person is arrested, charged, and turned over to the court for prosecution 2. When some element beyond police control precludes the physical arrest of an offender (for example, the offender leaves the country)

6 Structure of UCR Index Crimes (“Part I”) Murder Forcible rape Robbery
Aggravated assault Burglary Larceny-theft Motor vehicle theft Arson (1979) Non-Index Crimes (“Part II”) Simple assault Forgery Fraud Embezzlement Buying, receiving, and possessing stolen property Carrying/possessing weapons Prostitution Sex offences Drug use violations Gambling Offense against family/children

7 Clearance (2005) Offence Frequency Clearance Rate 1. Larceny-Theft
7 million 18% 2. Burglary 2 million 13% 3. Motor Vehicle Theft 1.2 million 14% 4. Aggravated Assault 1 million 56% 5. Robbery 500,000 25% 6. Rape 100,000 46% 7. Arson 80,000 16% 8. Murder 16,000 63%

8 Murder: Definition The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another. The UCR Program does not include: suicide, or accident; justifiable homicides; and attempts to murder or assaults to murder, which are scored as aggravated assaults

9 Ambiguity with murder A victim of aggravated assault dies
Follow-up investigation are important for correcting multiple monthly reports Less reliable agencies fail to record subsequent death of the victim as murder

10 Killings that don’t count
Death by driving According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 16,694 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2004, down 2.4 percent from 17,105 in 2003

11 Killings that don’t count
Deaths in custody and During the Course of Arrests Issue of deaths in prison or police custody or at the hands of police in the course of arrests When police or prison officers cause the deaths of those they encounter (suspects or convicted criminals), these deaths are often not viewed as unlawful

12 Killings that don’t count
Hidden Bodies Missing Persons

13 Assessment of UCR data Unknown, probably massive amount of crime that goes unreported to the police (“dark figure” of crime) Participation in the UCR is voluntary, not all police departments send crime reports to the FBI UCR does not include white collar crimes

14 Assessment of UCR data ”Hierarchy rule”
Auto theft, a less serious crime, has a very high report-ability (artificially inflates the crime index rate)

15 Assessment of UCR data UCR data are more valid indicators of the behavior of the police than of offenders Decision whether to record Not always believe the victim’s account May be busy to do the paperwork (especially if the crime is not serious) If there is no record = there is no crime

16 Assessment of UCR data Police departments have a dilemma (more crime=more resources, less crime=good work) Poor, nonwhite males are more likely to be arrested Research suggests that police personnel and funds are concentrated in nonwhite poor neighborhoods (more arrests in these areas)

17 Assessment of UCR data Official number of crimes might change artificially (citizens become more or less likely to report offenses committed against them) Example: increased number of reported rapes in the last two decades partly reflect growing awareness by women and police

18 Assessment of UCR data Police in various communities have different understanding of crimes One study found that Los Angeles police recorded any attempted or completed sexual assault as rape, while Boston police recorded a sexual assault as a rape only if it involved completed sexual intercourse Result: Boston’s official rape rate was much lower than that for Los Angeles

19 National Incident-Based Reporting System, or NIBRS
The NIBRS collects data on each single incident and arrest within 22 crime categories For each offense known to police within these categories: incident, victim, property, offender, and arrestee information are gathered when available Use of alcohol immediately before the offense

20 The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
The NCVS is under the auspices of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)

21 The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
Begun in early 1970’s Provide more detailed information than UCR Context of crime such as time of day and physical setting in which it occurs Characteristics of crime victims Characteristics of the offenders Whether victimization has been reported to the police

22 The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
Every six months the Census Bureau interviews about 110,000 residents 50,000 randomly selected households Aggravated and simple assault, rape and sexual assault, robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft No homicide, arson, commercial crimes, white collar crimes, gambling


24 Forcible rape UCR: underreported crime
NCVS: around 30% of victims report rape to the police

25 Findings Males have higher victimization rates then females for all violent crimes except rape/sexual assault Young people have greater victimization risk than older people (victim risk diminishes rapidly after 25 years old) African Americans had higher violent victimization rates than whites or other races

26 Findings People in the lowest income categories are much more likely to become crime victims Females and African Americans were more likely to report a crime to police than were males and whites (Barkan, 1999)

27 Males victims of DV “I am larger than her. I was a one time amateur boxing champion. She never used weapons, so she never came close to hurting me physically. But she hit me whenever she got the notion to, she cut up my clothes and threw them in the yard, she destroyed the trophies I had accumulated in various sports competitions since childhood, and she destroyed a wedding album. Neither party was blameless, but the physical violence was all hers”

28 Males victims of DV “I was in a hellish marriage with a woman who had difficulty controlling her rage, which would frequently erupt with her hitting, verbal abuse, and screaming. If fighting with her did occur, it was self-defense; if she threw a punch or kicked, I defended myself. In one particular case, after she initiated a fight by kicking and throwing punches, she called the police to report me as the violent abuser! When they responded, I was seen as the bad guy, she was the victim! “

29 Males victims of DV “I was abused too many times and decided to end the relationship but I was unable to do so. The abuse intensified, she did not hesitate to hit me ... She also clawed me numerous time and even cut me with a knife. I was again failed to report the incidents to the authority. Many times she had threatened me that if I bring any charges against her, she would not hesitate to bring false charges against me ...”

30 Assessment of NCVS Document a massive amount of crime that goes unreported Underestimate crime rate (insignificant crimes tend to be forgotten) Victims of several crimes may also forget about all the crimes Females do not report victimization if her abuser live in the same household

31 Assessment of NCVS Reported victimization rates usually decease with each interview (awareness of victimization) Overestimation of some crimes Respondents might mistakenly interpret some noncriminal events as crimes “Telescoping “ effect

32 UCR and NCVS UCR data are based on reported criminal acts (offender characteristics) NCVS data based on individuals actually victimized (characteristics of victims)

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