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Describe 3 methods used to compile data on crime.

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Introduction

A) Describe 3 methods used to compile data on crime There are lots of ways to measure crime. In 1700's statistics came from courts, but this meant that only the cases that reached court were recorded. Crime statistics have their uses that have been identified by Wolfgang (1971). Their main use is that they measure the volume of crime in a certain area and also measures how effective a preventative measure has been in reducing crime. Statistics also can detect changes in rates of crime and provide valuable evidence for backing up ideas for policy decisions. There are methods of collecting data from different agents of a crime to provide more information and data. The police is the most obvious agent of collecting data on crime. The statistics the police gather are published in the Home Office. This gives an overall number of crimes and types of crimes recorded in England and Wales. When a crime is reported the police record it on their files. Offender surveys are the second method of collecting data, the most common method is that a sample is selected based usually on age or the geographical area. The sample is asked if they have committed detected or undetected crimes. ...read more.

Middle

Hough and Mayhew (1985), identified that a reported crime may be unreported due to a mistake or lack of evidence available to charge someone. When an offence is committed an offender is not necessarily always charged. In some cases the police may issue an informal caution, therefore this does not appear in the official statistics. Even though crimes are reported the victim may drop the charges later on, the crime then becomes a 'no crime. A reported crime does not mean a recorded crime. It was discovered that 'no crime' cases account for 18-28% of initially recorded crimes (Sparks et al, 1977). This is one of the reasons for distorted figures in the official statistics. Also the media highlights the fact that there has been an increase of crime in a certain area or of a criminal group, but it is usually because the police have cracked down on them, this increases the amount of those types of crimes recorded as statistics. Victims of crimes have a major effect on the crime statistics as they are selective in the types of crimes they report. E.g. there was a high rate of reporting of theft of motor vehicles and a low rate of reporting of theft in a dwelling as if in a home the offender maybe a guest in their home. ...read more.

Conclusion

The figures produced from these surveys underestimate the amount of crime as its main focus is on offences against the person and property. So it ignores the area of crimes such as fraud. There is a problem of respondent accuracy which also occurs in offender surveys. Whether the interview is carried out face to face or over the telephone effects the interviewees' responses. This is because the interviewee may not feel comfortable with the interviewer, so the interviewer needs to form a rapport between him and the interviewee to help the interviewee open up more. The characteristics of the interviewer such as their age and sex have an important effect as a woman may not feel comfortable talking to an old man about her experiences of being raped. Sparks et al (1977) found the amount of crimes reported were related to the respondent's educational achievement. Although the three main agents of collecting data on crime have their problems especially with reliability, they still do provide a lot of insight and information about crimes. Offender and victim surveys show overall that the figures gained from these surveys are a lot higher than what actually appears in the official statistics. The figures that the crime surveys produce have potential to shape theories of crime and also they influence political and social policies on managing and controlling crime. MANDEEP .K. POONIA ...read more.

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