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How Accurate are Official Crime Statistics?

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Introduction

How Accurate are Official Crime Statistics? Bex Lycett Official crime statistics are statistics released by the home office each year to show the amount of crime that has been committed. They are gathered from records kept as each individual police force in England and Wales and are widely accepted as a true and accurate measure of crime, however there are reasons why some people do not accept that this is the case. Apart from recording how many crimes have been committed in a year, crime statistics have other uses too; they are used to track patterns and rising/falling levels of crime over a number of years, and can highlight trends etc. Also they can be used to help with crime prevention measures, if for example there was an increase in street muggings, more police money and time would be dedicated to helping patrol the streets. Furthermore the statistics can show areas of high crime and will help the government see where more money is needed to establish a bigger or stronger police force. A final usage of official crime statistics is by academics, psychologists, sociologists and criminologists for example may find them useful, if they were investigating crime in the community, or investigating a certain type of crime. Many would argue however that official crime statistics are not the best resource for studying crime levels. ...read more.

Middle

"part of life", in the past for example many people simply accepted domestic violence as a common part of marriage, and something that could be resolved by the couple themselves. When the man is the victim of domestic violence too, or a child is being abused, the crimes often go unreported, due to the shame of telling, and fear of not being believed. Also minor crimes, n which the victim feels that due to the fact the police will not pursue the case, or they do not want the hassle of making a statement, the crime for example vandalism to a fence is seen as too minor and so people deal with the situation themselves. Gang crimes often go unreported due to the fact that they tend to "sort things" themselves, taking the law into their own hands, rather than seek retribution from the state, they go out and seek it directly from the perpetrator themselves, often reciprocating with a similar act of violence, which they had previously been a victim of, e.g.- you hurt my friend, I hurt you, this is because they see the method as more effective and brings with it a higher status than reporting the crime to the authorities does. Other reasons for not reporting the police include, being scared of the person who carried out the crime, a drug dealer beating up a drug addict who has not paid him would be an example of this, the crime may be reported to other authorities, like the council, medical boards etc. ...read more.

Conclusion

The most popular victim survey is the British crime survey, which has been carried out regularly since 1982. The problem with this method is that relying on victim's memory can often cause facts to become distorted therefore, statistics become confused. Also there is a problem in that victims are categorising the crimes themselves, and so it may exaggerate some forms of crime, making them out to be more or less serious. Studies found too that types of corporate crime tended to be ignored; due to there it is seen as "minor" compared to assault for example. Sexual crimes also tend not to be reported; due to the stigma's attached to them. Young people are too excluded from this survey, and so a large majority of the population is ignored, and this means that victims of on going child abuse cant report being a victim. To conclude, it seems that after looking the evidence, official crime statistics are not an accurate measure of crime, but whatever method of gathering crime statistics is used, all of them have major flaws, however based on the fact that a large majority of the official crime statistics flaws are based on police behaviour, it would seem easiest to improve police techniques and standards when it comes to recording crime, as opposed to bringing in new techniques, simply modify current ones. ...read more.

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