Presentation on theme: "1 Crime Statistics Consider quantitative method towards gaining knowledge of crime - study objects, like natural science; measure, predict Focus today:"— Presentation transcript:
1 Crime Statistics Consider quantitative method towards gaining knowledge of crime - study objects, like natural science; measure, predict Focus today: 1.Official Statistics 2.Problems 3.Alternative Approaches
2 1. Official Statistics Typically relate to crimes known to police Most are reported Then, police distribute resources, calculate clear up rates But various weaknesses re these figures
3 2a. Dark Figure of Crime Hidden crimes not known to police Unknown size Varies between crimes – murder to traffic offence
4 2a. Hidden Crime Many reasons for non- reporting: -No victim -Victim unaware of crime -Victim in weak position -Victim sees offence as trivial -Victim fears repercussions -Victim protecting offender -Victim has low faith in CJS -Victim opposes illegal status of offence
5 2b. Official Crime Statistics Problems and differences in police recording of crime: -More officers means more crime? -Reported crime not recorded -How crime is classified – change categories suggests big rise in offences -Historical change in status of crime e.g. domestic violence?
6 2c. Official Crime Statistics Crime as a social construct Different stages in the process Wealthier, more powerful classes better at negotiating way out at all stages (cf. Steven Box)
7 2c. Official Crime Statistics i) Deviant act occurs – e.g. store theft, pub disturbance ii) Reported – seriousness? victims social status? iii) Taken seriously – routine, privacy, likely suspects?
8 2c. Official Crime Statistics iv) Arrest – suspects status, behaviour, record; risks; organizational ties. v) Charge – ambiguity of offence; legal counsel; suspects social skills, status. vi) Court – legal counsel; suspects social skills, status. vii) Conviction – ditto. viii) Sentence – ditto. Then ix) – offender becomes a criminal stat!
9 2d. Official Crime Statistics Why worry re stats? Problems re: -Explaining crime -Knowing about victims -Knowing about offenders -Developing social policies
10 3. Beyond Official Statistics Self-report and victim surveys e.g. British Crime Survey: -Household surveys of individuals -Random samples -Questionnaires -Questions re whether victims of crime in past year -Questions re fear of crime -Personal details added -Everyday language
11 3. Surveys Tend to: - Point to higher levels of criminality - Focus on particular criminality e.g. youth and drug use - Point to huge differences in crimes reported e.g. vandalism rarely reported to police - Highlight at risk groups - Greater focus on victims, effectiveness of policing, etc - Comparisons over time/space
12 3. Surveys Some problems: -Household surveys often exclude high- risk groups -Family crime -People lying -People forgetting -Meaning of criminal act varies Do influence sociologists, policymakers. Fit crime management, not crime solution political agenda Lack focus on white-collar crime – massive frauds, insider dealing, etc
13 Recap -Official statistics hide dark figure -Underplay social construction of crime -Consider alternative surveys -Fit policy agenda; but still ignore crimes of powerful?