Are Official statistics on crime unreliable?
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Are Official statistics on crime unreliable? By Bethan Lind 10e The Home Office produces the official crime figures. But are they always reliable? That is the question that needs to be answered. Sociologists use these figures because they are cheap and readily available i.e. The Internet. We have to take into account detecting, reporting, recording and policing because these can all affect the figures in different ways. The first thing that can affect the figures is a crime that isn't even noticed such as a petty theft. For example If a woman is carrying a purse containing £45 and a £5 note or change was stolen she probably wouldn't have noticed unless she counted the money first so therefore the crime cannot be reported so it cannot appear in the official statistics.
Official statistics may also reflect police bias (notably leniency towards women, white people and middle class offenders). In order to get a better idea of actual rather then recorded crime, many nations initiated crime surveys in the 1960s and 1970's. One reliable crime survey is the British Crime Survey. The BCS is regarded as a more reliable measure of actual levels of crime because it includes experiences of crime that go unreported, its based on interviews with the public and last year it was the largest sample ever with 30,000 people taking part. Official statistics are generated from the records of the police whilst the British Crime Surveys are gleaned from interviews of a sample population.
Two very well known studies are those of the Merseyside and Islington surveys and it was found that the biggest difference between the national and local statistics were sexual and domestic assaults with only a small number from national surveys and many, many more coming from local surveys. A British crime survey found a level of 4.2% of women experienced domestic violence when the Islington survey claimed that 12% had experienced it. Dobash and Dobash found that a majority of the women who had experienced domestic violence didn't report the incident to the police because they thought it was getting more acceptable in the 21st century. To conclude there is enough evidence to suggest that the Official Statistics are unreliable and that although more expensive the British Crime Survey produces more accurate and reliable statistics.
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