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"What can be learned about crime by studying theofficial statistics?"

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Introduction

"What can be learned about crime by studying the official statistics?" 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. It is highly important the 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

Therefore, it is essential for sociologists to never take statistics at their face value, as the levels of recorded crime may differ dramatically from the true levels of criminal activities. One possibility, which may cause this, is social inequalities present in our society i.e. a systematic bias. From a variety of records, there is a clear trend that young working class men are over-represented in the figures particularly young black men. Women tend to also be treated in a highly gendered way in the criminal justice system. The chivalry thesis suggests that female offenders are treated more leniently than their males. Feminist theorists have suggested that women are treated base on ideas about their 'proper' behaviour. However, white-collar crime and corporate crime are both under recorded and certainly do not fit the popular image of crime as a working class phenomenon. Official crime figures tend to represent the product of a long chain of social practices that entice together the social inequalities of class, gender, and race. ...read more.

Conclusion

Recently, the Home Office have made proposals that will inevitably have long-term benefits. These proposals include the combining of data from a wider range of sources and more information being collected on other factors such as the locations of the offences enabling the production of a more practical picture of crime. However, the main improvement will be that 'calls for service' rather than 'offences recorded by the police' will act as the basic building blocks of official statistics. To conclude, I believe it is important to understand that although many issues have been raised as to whether the crime statistics provide us with accurate data, we do not have to totally adopt the view, that the statistics tell us nothing about the levels of crime. If we ignore the assumption that the statistics are used without the consideration of all of the assumptions made, and approach them critically with a full understanding how data is constructed and for what purpose, they can tell us a great deal. Farah Nathani 1 U card no: 020147608 ...read more.

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