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How useful are the official statistic as a source of information as offending behaviour?

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Introduction

How useful are the official statistic as a source of information as offending behaviour? The official statistics are crimes recorded (under guidelines form the government) by the police, and the probation service (to an extent). "The crime contained in these volumes are of great significances, not only for those who study crime or work in the criminal justice system, but also for politicians, the mass media and the general public, for whom these are the major source of authorized information about the extent and trends in crime." (J.Moynihan. Understanding crime data: Haunted by the dark figure.) The official statistic are gathered from a number of different sources, these include; Criminal statistics (HMSO), Judicial statistics (HMSO), Probation statistics (home office), Prison statistics (HMSO). All of these are published by their respective departments yearly and when used together create the official statistics for Great Britain. Other countries have similar systems, for example Scotland has the Recorded Crime in Scotland and the Prison statistics both published by the Scottish office. As the quote from J.Moynihan shows us one of the uses for the official statistics is for the public and the media to see what the crime is lie within the country. ...read more.

Middle

Self-report studies are where criminologists ask people directly about their involvement in criminal activity through questionnaires etc. These are a way of finding those people involved in crime who where not in the BCS. This type of report is good for confessions to lesser crimes, but generally people do not admit to involvement in violent/unacceptable crimes (e.g. those crimes which truly out rage society), these types of studies also miss out corporate and governmental crimes. Also this type of study is often carried out during the evening, when younger people etc are more likely to be out. This is important to remember when assessing the usefulness of these studies, as they are likely missing out young people who are more likely to be involved in certain criminal activities e.g. drug abuse. These studies are very useful in illuminating sum, but not all, of the dark figure. Victimisation studies are questionnaires sent out to the population trying to target those people who have been a victim of crime but not shown up in the official statistics because they where failed to be reported. The sample is proportionally representative of the population. These once again wish to quantify the dark figure, aiming to pick upon unreported crime. ...read more.

Conclusion

Pollak said that women where less likely to be caught, and if caught then they where less likely to be reported, and if reported he said that women where dwelt with more leniently than men. His premise rested around 2 main things, the first being a women's ability to fake or conceal their true intentions etc he specifically sited sexual arousal. The second was that men had a bias towards treating women more easily because of the social stereotype of women. Both have merit but neither seems wholly accurate the dark figure isn't going to be a specific group of unidentified criminals. So how useful are the official statistics? Well on their own they have only specific use such as helping legislation. However they can be put to much better use when combined with various sources of other data as mentioned above. Though even then we have no idea of the dark figure which, due to the way in which the BCS are recorded and reported we do not see all crimes. There is very little way that this dark figure can be uncovered through the official statistics. Though they could be improved to include more crimes and handle the classification and recording of reports more accurately the official statistics are still useful. J.Moynihan. Understanding crime data: Haunted by the dark figure. Open university press. 1996. 1 ...read more.

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