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Is it safe to make international comparisons of crime data?

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Introduction

Is it safe to make international comparisons of crime data? The use of official statistics to measure the level of crime in today's society is currently a popular area of debate both within the criminological and sociological domains. These 'official' figures, which are collected by the police and published annually by the Home Office in 'Crime Statistics, England, and Wales', provide a foundation for comparisons to take place within societies. An importance for the statistics to be accurate and a true indicator of the number of crimes committed is vital as it acts as a method to measure the pattern and correlation of criminal behaviours in Britain for international comparisons. Criminologists, sociologists, and politicians together unite in raising a crucial question over whether these statistics are a reliable and valid means of measurement. Therefore I feel that it is necessary for data to be correct to the exact number before it can be compared with other statistical data from around the world. It is highly important for every country, around the globe, that crime data (also known as statistics) are accurate and act as a true representation to the extent and nature of crimes committed, as these figures are used to construct pictures of what the patterning of criminal behaviour actually looks like. ...read more.

Middle

In making any comparison it is necessary to be aware that such data will be the outcome of different legal and administrative systems and may also be derived from different statistical data collection process. It is seen impossible to measure the true extent of crime in any country, however if one does try to do so there are two main measures: The first is of the offence recorded by police. The second being, measures of crime from the results of victimisation surveys carried out on a sample of the public.1 However this still can be weak; although most countries collect information on the number of crimes recorded or reported by the police, absolute measures are misleading. This is due to the facts, some of which are mentioned above: > Different legal and criminal justice system > Rates of which crimes are reported to police and recorded by them! > Differences in the points that crimes are measured-some measure it as soon as it is reported to the police others wait until a suspect is identified. > Differences in the rules of measurement > Differences of the list of offences that are included in the overall crime figures. > Changed in data quality Therefore, it goes to say, that until we have a similar law and order for each and every country comparisons can not be made at an international level, worldwide. ...read more.

Conclusion

So far efforts to standardise statistics has been put behind/into other areas. As Gordon Barclay explained (in the lecture on 13th February) also carries out a survey of crime data worldwide, however it also fails to get complete and accurate information-common definitions are used and countries are expected to reconfigure their statistics as best as they can to fit the definition; Only to find that no country fits meets these definitions and there has been little quality control. The most recent development has been the initiative of the European Union which has set up a new committee under the European Union Crime Prevention Network3. It is carrying out an audit of what data is available on crime in EU countries and is initially focussing on three crimes: street robbery, domestic burglary and car theft. I feel that is this step is split up through the continents, like Asia and Africa and they take the same steps as carried out by the European Union Crime Prevention Network, we may then see a change in the way we look at crime data at an international level. 1 www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs/hosb601.pdf -the two ways of trying to measure extent of crime in any country. 2 Gordon quoted from the report of the committee appointed to revise the criminal proportion of Judicial statistics 12th December 1892 3 Home office statistical bulletin 05/02 ...read more.

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