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"Official statistics on crime give an account of crime as opposed to a count of crime." Evaluate this statement using examples to illustrate your answer.

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CRI101 Introduction to Criminology Assignment 2: Essay Tutor: Nicola Groves "Official statistics on crime give an account of crime as opposed to a count of crime." Evaluate this statement using examples to illustrate your answer. Student: Jennifer Gartland Student ID: 032805136 70% The Official statistics of crime have been compiled by the Home Office from police and court records since 1876 (Maguire 2002, p. 334). These statistics have for some time been the dominant measure of crime. They have been used by the media, politicians, policy makers and academics to make judgements about society (Jupp et al 2000, p.58). Crime trends have been identified and new legislations and practices have been put in place as a direct result of these statistics. The Official Statistics have shown a continual increase since they commenced, with around 100 thousand crimes recorded in its first year and with around 5.2 million recorded in recent years. The major increase occurring from the late 1950s to 1992 when the 'crime rate' hit its peak. Why has there been such a dramatic increase in crimes? Are the Official Statistics an accurate measure of crime? ...read more.


The police rely heavily on the general public to report crime. It has been identified that they are responsible for reporting 80 per cent of all recorded crime (Maguire 2002, p.335). But less than half of all known crime is reported to the police (Muncie 2001, p. 26). This 'dark figure' of crime has lead to the introduction of victim surveys, the most widely known being The British Crime Survey (BCS). It was introduced in 1982 and is now used alongside the official statistics. In 1992 the BCS were compared to the official statistics and it was found that only 40 per cent of robbery and theft from a person was reported and only 48 per cent of violent incidents were reported (Muncie 2001, p. 26). Muncie then determines that this under reporting is due to; ignorance that a crime has been committed, the crime is victimless (for example, prostitution), the victim is powerless (for example, child abuse), there is distrust of the police or protection from the police may not be given (Muncie 2001, p. 26). But the main reasons for not reporting a crime were identified as the crime not being deemed as serious by the victim or observer, or they thought that the police would not be able to take any action. ...read more.


(Safer Society Magazine 2001/2002, p.22; Home Office Statistical Bulletin) The essay has identified some of the factors that caused the massive increase in crime in the mid 1900s, which showed that it was not an increase in crime itself but an increase in the reports of crime. It also identified how police discretion could darken the accuracy of the Official Statistics and how the comparative BCS may give a 'truer' picture of crime. It has also identified how the measurement of crime is seen by many as 'unreliable'. The methods by which it is measured, the extent to which it can be altered and the amount that is 'left out' shows that it is not a true picture of crime. Is a true picture of crime possible? Even the BCS cannot accurately show the actual amount of crime due to the size of the sample and 'sampling error'. It would take the continuous monitoring of every person living in England and Wales, in which case no crime would be committed as you would know that you would be caught! Many people do not believe that the official statistics are a waste of time, but they should be viewed as what they are, a measurement of the activities of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) in particular the police. ...read more.

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