• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Evaluate the accuracy of official statistics of crime.

Extracts from this document...


Evaluate the accuracy of official statistics of crime. Official statistics of crime are collected by the home office which means that patterns and trends can easily be found. Positivists favour this as they believe them to be social facts. Durkheim used them in his study of suicide, he felt that society was not reducible to individuals. And he found out that there was a significant variation in rates of suicide of different populations and that they stayed remarkably consistent over time. From this he found four different types of suicide which showed why a person may have committed suicide. He concluded that suicide is not an individual act but has its roots in society. However, Interpretivists would question the usefulness of official statistics, Douglas suggested that statistical approaches into suicides like Durkheim's ignore meanings that individuals have for committing suicide. Douglas believed that to interpret why a person had committed suicide you had to get into the 'inner world' of the suicide person, i.e. read their diaries and suicide notes. Positivists argue that official statistics are useful in gaining an insight into crime as they show who, what and where. Another key strength is that patterns and trends can easily be identified and so therefore analysis is easy which allows correlations to be made. ...read more.


Many crimes such as corporate crime and victimless crimes are excluded and crimes against under 16 year olds are also excluded. Despite victim surveys being anonymous it seems that people it seems that people still seem to under-report sexual offences, and also basing statistics on victims memories can be biased. There are also problems of accuracy as the BCS often chooses the sample used, also as the participants are given a computer to key in offences committed against them the BCS can get away with not putting official or legal categories into the computer, further effecting the validity of ant crime statistics. Figures like these do not appear in official statistics so its validity could be questioned. The police play a large part in official statistics as it is left to them to decide what is considered to be or not to be a crime; only 40 % of crime that is reported to the police is actually recorded. Many police departments want their area to look like its crime statistics are under the nation's average. There are many ways for them to do this one of which is 'cuffing' this is where a current prisoner will be asked to admit to crimes he/she did not commit, they will not be prosecuted for this. ...read more.


Only about 30% of crime is solved therefore we cannot tell to what extent convicted criminals resemble un-convicted ones. Offences are cleared up by either primary means or secondary means which can be unreliable as secondary means involve a prisoner admitting to a crime which due to cuffing they may not have done. New counting rules saw the clear up rates for England and Wales go down from 38% in 1981 to 29% in 1998-99. Crime statistics in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can't be directly compared as the legal systems differ. Also the counting rules differ as in Scotland each individual offence occurring within an incident is recorded whereas in the other countries only the main offence is counted. Institutionalists reject the objectivity of official figures and attempt to show how they are neither valid nor reliable. They say that statistics do not show the real picture as most crime is out of sight out of mind. However, Realists would argue that the figures are objective indicators of the social phenomenon they are supposed to reflect, they deny that the problems arising are a result of power but are instead the product of technical incompetence. Marxists believe that law and its enforcement reflects the interests of the ruling class. The crimes of the poor are strictly enforced and the immoral activities of the rich are either ignored or not defined as criminal, statistics well reflect these inequalities and scapegoating. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Crime & Deviance section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Crime & Deviance essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Assess the Usefulness of Official Crime Statistics to a Sociological Understanding of Crime

    4 star(s)

    Official statistics are often influenced or socially constructed by those compiling the statistics. This can be seen by the perception that ethnic minorities are perceived to be responsible for a high incidence of crime but the police often target areas where large numbers of ethnic minorities live.

  2. Outline and assess the usefulness of official statistics in measuring crime and deviance

    the fact the majority of the public believe that the police will not think their crime is a priority therefore doesn't matter. However it is believe this is made ineffective by the growth of the insurance industry and companies needing a crime number before they handle people cases.

  1. Describe the meaning of official statistics, victim surveys and self-reported studies as ways of ...

    mean the working classes are more prone than other groups to crime. These studies also suggest that the is a considerable amount of police bias against some sections of society. However, participants may not be truthful about the crimes they have committed or may not perceive some acts as crimes.

  2. Critically evaluate Marxists contributions to the study of crime and deviance.

    Chambliss interviewed a wide range of different people and the results came out as that power in the form of money and influence is the key factor which determines who gets arrested and who does not. It is Marxs argument that as the system grows, the cycle of booms and slumps in production will get longer and longer.

  1. Does the media heighten fear of crime?

    (Cited in McQuail and Windahl, 1993). Not only are there arguments against concepts such as the cultivation fear of crime, but also argument that the very statistics researchers use to compile these argument are in fact, often inaccurate. Although it would appear women have a higher fear of crime than men, the statistics are problematic: Robbie and Sutton (2005)

  2. A critique of policy or a piece of research - The British Crime Survey.

    However, this option has some disadvantages. It is likely to be the most expensive option, owing to the need to trace movers and follow them up to new addresses, with Lynn and Eliot noting that '...the sample will become less geographically clustered than it was originally'.

  1. 'Evaluate the use and importance of official crime statistics both in the tracking of ...

    Therefore, if we do not have a clear picture from true and accurate statistics, it would appear to be futile to rely on these for the purposes of tracking crime or, indeed, in applying the measures taken against it. The 'dark figure' of crime (unrecorded crimes)

  2. Outline and evaluate Durkheims theory of suicide.

    He points that whether a sudden death is in the coroner's eyes suicide. The family and friends of the deceased often sway his decision. People who live in close-knit communities would deny a suicide, simply because they feel or do not want to believe that the person would not take their own life.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work