Outline and assess the usefulness of official statistics in measuring crime and deviance
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'Outline and assess the usefulness of official statistics in measuring crime and deviance'. The term deviance cover a wide range of behaviour which digresses from the norms and values of society; but an act doesn't have to break the law for it to be labelled as deviant. Whereas a crime is an act of behaviour or action that break the laws of a society; and covers all activities from trivial to serious. There are many methods for the measuring and collection of data on crime and deviance level within the British Society. The main one is Official Crime Statistics (OCS) - these government statistics that cover a wide range of topics. There are two major soruces of which official statistics are based on; these are crimes recorded by the police (which form the majority of the Statistics) and statistics about those who have been convicted of offences. The basic process for the collection of official statistics is: witness (es) discover(s)
Firstly there is the definition of crime is relative this can lead to crimes not being recognised by victims and not being reported. Some crimes are not thought to be crimes and depend on the victims' definition of crime. An example of a situation this would come into play is would be when a fair fight turns into assault; this is entirely dependent on the definitions of the people involved in the situation. Also considering the Dark Figure of crime (this is term employed by criminologists and sociologists to describe the amount of unreported or undiscovered crime) which is a very important factor in the evaluating of OCS. As the dark figure shows the incompetence of the official statistics process; it causes people to believe that the official picture that is created by these statistics is not complete and therefore inaccurate. Another drawback of the official statistics is the recording of crime - while the police have a statutory obligation to record all crime reported to them.
In conclusion, it can be summarised that Official Statistics are useful in measuring crime and deviance because they are already available. Their use saves time, effort and money. They give a wide- ranging picture of social observable fact in terms of crime and deviance. Also they have excellent comparative value in that they allow the examination of trend over time. However it is very simple to be critical of statistics because of the many defects; a solution would be to choose an alternative measure of crime and deviance. An example would be Self-reported Studies, are studies that attempt discover the characteristics of the criminals. They are interviews or questionnaire where individuals admit what types and numbers of crimes they have committed. Never the less these they are flawed; individuals might want to conceal their crimes. However, it can still be argued that self-report studies are more likely to identify more criminals, as it eliminates the problems; with the reporting and recording of crime and the dark figure.
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