The advantages and disadvantages of official crime statistics in the Uk
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Throughout this essay I am going to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of official crime statistics in the Uk. How they are generated and compare and contrast on the different methods and records and how they demonstrate different conclusions to each other, which overall will show how crime statistics do not measure crime accurately.
There are two main resources for crime statistics in the Uk, which are the British crime survey and police statistics. The British crime survey generate their statistics by conducting a household survey of individuals experience of crime. The British Crime Survey was first carried out in 1982, collecting information about individuals experience of crime in 1981. These figures are also compiled by putting together the offences recorded by forty-three police areas in England and Wales, there are pitfalls for the unwary, and opportunities for the official statistics and police statistics to carry an undercount of the crime that actually occurs, because statistics are no more than a reflection of crimes actually reported and which the police think are serious enough to record (Koffman, N.D.).
Policing statistics were first conducted in 1990-1992, consisting of data relating to offences, clear-ups, arrests and victims input during that year, ‘No Crime’ extract file (YTDNOCREXT) holding data on allegations classed as ‘No Crime’, also input during the year in question being 1990 (gov.uk, 2017).
Crime statistics contrast quiet differently mainly due to how they are produced, with the British crime statistics being a house hold survey, many of the crimes have not been reported to the police due to many different factors such as fear of not being taken seriously or a case not being taken to court from the fear of there not being enough evidence , policing statistics are generated by the crimes recorded and reported to the police but with there being, More than 800,000 – or one in five – of all crimes reported to the police each year are not being recorded by officers (may, 2017). This makes both sources unable to measure crime accurately.
Criminologists call the ‘dark figure’ of hidden crime, which is the discrepancy between the amount of crime that is officially recorded by the police and which is actually experienced by the victim. The Crime Survey for England and Wales is a hugely important means for the Government to understand the truer level of crime. The crucial value of the survey is its ability to find out about crimes which do not get reported to, or recorded by, the police. Although within the British crime survey certain crimes known as White collar crimes, such as fraud, shoplifting and commercial burglary, bank fraud does not get recorded, the survey will also pick up some incidents which are not notable offences (Aye Maung and Mayhew, 1992). Both sources of statistics leave gaps of crimes being unrecorded or unreported, so although they give us an idea it still leaves you unable to measure crime accurately.
Crime statistics seem to relate to different criminologist’s theories, Marxists theory essentially sees crime and deviance as defined by the ruling class and used as a means of social control, if you do not conform then you will be punished. Institutions such as the police, the justice system, prisons and schools, the family and religion are there to encourage you to conform. They argue that white collar crimes (which tend to be committed by the more powerful in society) are ignored, while crimes committed by the less powerful in society such as burglary and street crime are focussed on and seen as more serious.
Marxists would also argue that different social classes are policed differently, with the working class heavily policed in the expectation that they will be more criminal and therefore raising the chances of their crimes being detected (Trueman, 2018). Also the Mertons stain theory, which was first developed by Robert Merton in the 1940s to explain the rising crime rates experienced in the USA at that time, but also relates highly to the U.k. People were expected to pursue goals in life, through legitimate means such as education and work. Merton pointed out that these goals were not attainable by all, Innovation is a way of using socially unapproved or unconventional means to obtain culturally approved goals, such as dealing drugs or stealing to achieve financial security (Thompson, 2018)