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Critically Discuss Some of the Problems Associated With the Measurement of Crime.

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Introduction

John Heath Return to Study: Introduction To The Study Of Crime With Dawn. Critically Discuss Some of the Problems Associated With the Measurement of Crime. There are several factors that need to be considered when looking at and using official crime statistics. One of the main things to consider is who is producing the statistics? Who ever it is they have a purpose for the production and the results will almost inevitably show a bias towards their ideals. The most realistic form of crime statistic is derived from victim surveys. This is individuals are contacted either by phone or post and their experiences of crime recorded. The Home Office produces the most extensive victim survey. It is called the British Crime Report (BCS) and is produced approximately every two years. The report indicates one of the faults with crime figures released by the police service. A prime example is that between 1981 and 1987 the police figures indicated that crime had increased by 30% but the BCS survey shows an actual increase of 41%. There are a vast number of crimes that remain unreported. I will discuss this in more detail later in the essay. As mentioned above one of the reasons that any crime figure may be inaccurate is that many crimes are simply not reported. ...read more.

Middle

The crimes may not be reported to prevent a negative image of the company and a scaring of potential investors. For these reasons it is often very difficult to prosecute in these cases. 'In 1990 Ernest Saunders (ex-chairman of Guinness) was found guilty of theft (one theft amounted to �2.6m, a second to �5.2m) false accounting and conspiracy.' (The Sociology of Crime and Deviance: Interpreting the figures.) There are also reasons that the police do not report crimes. A policeman may not report that he has moved a person on for breach of peace if he is called to another crime. He may see it as unnecessary due to it being a minor offence. Another form of crime that is not represented within official figures is crime that has not been detected. It is very hard to say to what extent this affects the figures, as it is impossible to say how many crimes have been committed without detection. An undetected crime in an extreme case may be that a missing person report would remain as such until a body is recovered. The manner of death would need to be suspicious before it may become a murder case. So an undiscovered or undetected crime would be unable to be indicated. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are other factors to consider such as the representation within the figures themselves. The Home Office figures from 1999 show that between 1998 and 1999 there was a 6% drop in violent crimes. This breaks down to a 9.9%decrease of violence against the person, a 2.2% increase in sexual offences and a 5.6% increase in robbery. So from this it fair to say that there was an overall decrease in violent crime. To do this would be correct but should it be scrutinised further it is clear that the reduction was only in one area of that type of crime. There may be reasons for that decline which would invalidate it. There may have been less cases of violence against a person reported due to a lack of confidence in the police or the idea that it can be resolved without their involvement. The figure for robbery may have increased because there was a police targeting campaign against those offences. The sexual offences may have increased as suggested by the police because they are making more efforts to gain women's confidences. So it would not indicate that the crime was being committed more just that it is being reported more. So as we can see though I have not used a complete list of reasons. Those mentioned clearly indicate that the figures will be inaccurate. ...read more.

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