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Crime Statistics or Criminal Statistics?

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Introduction

Crime Statistics or Criminal Statistics? We have all seen shocking, and it must be said compelling headlines in the tabloid newspapers of crime figures soaring out of control, violence and robbery spiraling away as if there was no order left in society and anarchy ruled. The Police Federation constantly reports shortfalls in funding to combat the rise in crime and the shortage of officers in relation to crime figures (Police Federation, 2002). It would appear to be a bit of a contradiction that the Government of the day would have us believe that their new offensive on crime is working and crime figures are falling. Whatever political party is in power will say Operation "Whatever it is this time" is going well and crime levels are being reduced. The opposition will always quote statistics indicating crime is out of control (Cohen, 1995). As with almost everything these days the level of crime is measured with statistics. Who records these, what are they based on and how accurate can they be with such a wide range of interpretation? In this essay I will look briefly into these questions and show, in relation to drug offences in particular how statistics can be used to support what some times can be two completely opposite opinions. ...read more.

Middle

This use of statistics shows how one problem in society impacts on other areas giving a broader, more informed perception as to how to deal with all of these issues in a coordinated and efficient way. By looking at the statistics in relation to age, gender and cultural background it is possible to see which drug is more prevalent within a certain area of society (Mathews, 2001). With this knowledge it is possible to educate and inform that area of society on specific drug risks. There is a popular misconception for instance that minority groups commit most drug offences (Garland, 2002; Bowling & Phillips, 2002). We have all seen drug dealers portrayed in the cinema and on television as large Black Afro-Caribbean men dripping in gold jewellery surrounded by black minders. In reality according to the British Crime Survey (2000), white people score significantly higher in drug use than any other ethnic group. This could go some way to dispel popular misconceptions in culture and help inform the right people in society of the dangers of these drugs. Another popular misconception is that youth and drug offences seem to go hand in hand, when in actual fact in 1999 only 33% of offences were committed by people under 21 years of age with the average age being 25 year old (Drug Seizures and Offender Statistics, 2001). ...read more.

Conclusion

More importantly are the range of tax and fraud benefit cases known to the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise, which are excluded unless they are brought to court (Muncie 2001, p 23). They are rendered as 'invisible crime'. Such crime is also highly underestimated and more often than not seen as less serious than 'street crime', even though they are probably far more numerous and far more costly than recorded crime. Once a crime is reported there is no guarantee that it will find its way into the official statistics. The BCS found that this happens to approximately a 40 per cent of all reported crime. This 'grey figure' of crime is mainly attributed to police discretion. They may chose not to record it, for example, a family dispute may be classified as 'domestic- advice given' (Muncie 2001, p. 27) or if recorded may be 'no crimed' or 'NFA' (no further action), in each case they do not make their way into the statistics. This selective 1 Crimes such as corporate & commercial offences (shop lifting, burglary & vandalism), fraud, motoring offences and victimless crime such as drug offences are not included in the survey (Maguire, 2002). 2 This is not to say the decriminalization of cannabis is strictly a bad thing, but for the purpose of this essay demonstrates abuse of statistics. 1 ...read more.

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