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Describe and Evaluate the Use of Victim Surveys as a Measurement of Criminal Activity

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Describe and Evaluate the Use of Victim Surveys as a Measurement of Criminal Activity Background Information The first victim surveys were carried out in the USA during the late 1960's (Biederman et al 1967, Ennis 1967 and Reiss 1967). There is a wide range of methodologies available for victim research but the most important means of data collection can be offered by household surveys. Description The British Crime Survey (M.Hough and Mayhew 1983) selected 16,000 households and interviewed at least one member who was 16 years or older from each household. The aim of the interviews was to see what sort of attitudes people had about crime, if they had been a victim of crime and to give details of the crime if they had encountered any. This survey agreed with Sparks (1981) who noted that 'criminal victimization is an extremely rare event... crimes of violence are extremely uncommon'. ...read more.


They said it was because They had an obligation to report the crime The crime was serious enough to report Reporting stops repetition of crime to others Reporting stops re-victimization by the same criminal They desperately needed police assistance The police would then catch the offender and punish them A demographic profile was produced by the 1998 BCS, which acknowledged who were most at risk from various crimes. For example: The Risk factors in victims of burglary Young unemployed head of household Living in rented accommodation Home is empty for three hours or more a day Living up north Low income Lone adults Multi-ethnic area Flat/end of terrace houses Dwelling in inner city/council house The Risk factors for repeated victims of burglary Single parents Living in inner city area Living in rented accommodation Living in area with high physical chaos The risk factors in victims of violence Single and living alone Living in rented accommodation Living in London/Northern England Low income or unemployed Living in a flat or ...read more.


a few problems with these surveys, for instance: The figures produced will tend to miscalculate the amount of crime committed They tend to focus on offences against a person and their property Overlooking the whole section of 'white- collar crime' i.e. fraud and embezzlement The responses given may not be accurate The amount of crime reported may be linked to the respondent's level of educational achievement. Even so, the figures produced by the surveys can help influence social and political policies towards supervising and controlling crime. Farrell and Pease (1995) suggested that by analysing repeat victimisation, we would be able to provide tactics for crime prevention. These tactics will not only help to reduce crime but they will also be able to help protect the most vulnerable groups of people. Therefore, surveys are a good thing to use to measure criminal activity but the problem is that people may not always be honest when answering questions which could make the results unreliable. Word Count: 996 Amritpal Saund Psychology ...read more.

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