Reviewing The Usefulness Of Official Information Criminology Essay

Official information give home elevators the number of crimes commit that are collected immediately from each police force. They assert to provide answers to two questions; the degree of criminal offense, and who commits it. Criminologists have determined the situation of official information giving a wrong picture of the level and kind of crime that truly exists. As a result, other styles of information are turned to including victim research, longitudinal research and self-report studies. This essay will commence by checking out the uses of public statistics then continue to explore the problems with the info. The other styles of data available will then be discussed and the usefulness of these will be examined.

Offical reports are figures that contain been gathered by the police and are publicized by the Home Office yearly and contain data on crimes recognized to by the police. Official figures have the utilization of showing tendencies in crime that may easily be compared as time passes. For example, any office for National Reports (2008) published a report saying "In Great britain and Wales, 4, 060 Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) were granted in 2005, over 18 % more than the prior year". In addition they plainly show which interpersonal group is much more likely to commit certain types of offense. This may be the person's age, ethnicity, social school. They allow law enforcement to know where their priorities should be and aid governments in establishing their regulations on crime. Into a criminologists viewpoint, they are a free of charge, secondary source of data that are going to be useful even if it is merely to identify how much of a 'dark-figure' there is.

The term 'Dark-figure' is ultimately the complete problem with using public statistics to review criminal offenses. The dark body is thought as the amount of crime which is unreported or mysterious about. The total amount of crime is made up of those that are known of and noted, and the dark number of offense (Online Dictionary ON THE Sociable Sciences 2008). The dark body is said to exist due to the social development of crime. This is the idea that what is seen as criminal behaviour to 1 person might not be to another. The effect there are crimes that the public to do not report to the police, and there are crimes that the police to not track record. These make up a large volume of crimes that aren't recorded by the authorities, and constitute the dark physique.

Unreported crimes happen for a range of reasons, and are an enormous contributor to the dark body, which removes usefulness from official reports. The police rely on the public to see them about criminal offenses, they do not generally learn about crimes themselves. As Maguire et. Al (2002:322) said; "whether people perceive a particular action or event as crime, let alone whether they report it as such to anyone elsecan range according with their own knowledge, awareness, or emotions about crime, which may be inspired by the general public 'ambiance' or the preoccupations of politicians and the media". Offences is only going to generally go reported where there's a victim, therefore there may be a large quantity of 'victimless' crimes that your police are not getting told about. Typical crimes of this nature included traffic offences and violations of laws regarding general population decency such as general population drunkenness. These crimes will all contribute to the dark number. Crimes may well not be reported to the police if it's not perceived to be serious. The sufferer may consider the offence as trivial and believe reporting it to the police is more effort than it is worth.

A major source of unreported crime originates from 'white-collar crimes'. Edwin Sutherland came up with the concept in 1945 which, at that time, was a very different idea of criminal offense from anything before (Coleman and Moyniham 1996:9). Sutherland (1940 cited in Coleman and Moyniham 1996:9) described the idea as 'offences committed by persons of respectability and high social status throughout their occupations'. Offences of this character could include bribery and corruption in business and politics, the breaking of trade legislation and breaking food and drug laws. Some crimes may be determined by organizations or companies themselves, somewhat than a person, and are often known as commercial offences. Sutherland (1940 cited in Coleman and Moyniham 1996:9) explains how these kind of crimes are very popular, yet a way of measuring them doesn't appear in police information. Prosecutions are unlikely due to the apparent trivial nature of the crime, and often it is difficult to get sufficient facts. Generally, other strategies are used to deal with these criminals, such as civil actions or those of special companies. Firms are unlikely to prosecute employees over inner crime to the company such as stealing property, as they consider the effect will be their company looking bad. He continues on to explain that white-collar criminals are the most damaging of most because of the results. These crimes will therefore constitute a large percentage of all offences committed, the most them are not included in recognized statistics, so contributing to making them useful to study.

Another major contributor to recognized statistics not giving a genuine picture on criminal offenses is offences that go unrecorded by the authorities. Simmons and Dodd (2003) explain that the authorities have a legal responsibility to record all criminal offense, however over 30% of all offences reported to the police in 2002/3 weren't recorded. Conditions where offences aren't documented include cases where in fact the crime is seen by the police as being trivial and the offence minor. The police may see that enough time taken to complete the paper work on a minor crime or one where catching the sufferer is unlikely is simply a misuse of time. A process known as 'cuffing' is where authorities 'downgrade' crimes to be able to meet OFFICE AT HOME efficiency targets. They may even make a crime disappear all together so it does not arrive in information, for example robbery can be downgraded to 'lost property', which is not really a crime. This may be done in cases where law enforcement officials pay is partly dependant on clean-up rates, so it is their interest to have a low range of crimes recorded. A good example of this is in a recent media article where Alan Travis (2008) said, "the house Office disclosed that up to 17 police force causes have been under-recording some types of the very most serious violent criminal offense. "

There is further dispute in the usefulness of official figures from the situation that certain offences appear more frequently than others. A key reason behind this is media amplification. This is where certain offences are concentrated on by the media and made out to be big problems (often when they aren't), known as moral panics. The effect is that the police will concentrate more of their time in areas where these folks are. This may imply that the propensity of the police to concentrate in low income areas may suggest higher arrests of the working class, which might distort the characters. It could also be argued that authorities resources are devoted to patrolling general public places, which is where most young men spend their social life, so leading to higher arrest rates among them and distortion to the figures.

As a reply to the issues of the data in official information, a number of choice ways are also used to study crime. The most popular solution if the Uk Crime Survey, which really is a victimization research. 'The British Criminal offense Survey' was initially conducted in 1981 and has become an total annual event since 2000. THE HOUSE Office holds out the victim study so they don't have to simply rely on using authorities statistics to review crime, and view it as being more reliable than police statistics for certain types of criminal offense. The survey itself involves asking an example of 47, 000 people if they have been the victim of crime in the previous year. It also asks individuals if indeed they reported the criminal offense, and if the police ultimately saved it. Data from the English Crime Review may reveal that we now have either more or less offences specifically categories, implying an offence has been either under reported or that it is being reported accurately. Overall then, the BCS data appears to indicate that official statistics on crime do not give a valid picture of the amount of crime, and overall they may underestimate the style. However, we can not say that the British Crime Survey is giving a true picture, as there are also many limitations with the review. Maguire (2002) clarifies how there are categories of crime that are not included in the British Crime Survey that are contained in police statistics. This may include instances where there's a commercial or corporate sufferer (such as shop-lifting), or if it's a victimless crime. He also noted that intimate offences have been reported so hardly ever that it is not possible to put forward reliable statistics. Another major flaw with the review is the fact it excludes offences against victims under sixteen years old. He goes on to explain that national surveys are therefore much less useful at obtaining information about certain occurrences of criminal offenses than others. He helps it be clear that "the BCS, therefore, it cannot be too heavily pressured, provides an solution, rather than a directly equivalent, overall picture of criminal offenses to that proposed by police information: it is 'fuller' than the latter in a few respects, but 'narrower' in others. " (Maguire 2002).

Another form of information on criminal offense is Self-report studies. These are where questionnaires or interviews are conducted in self-assurance to gather information about individuals, and ask them to acknowledge to the number of crimes they have committed, including those which they were not caught. The data may then be weighed against recognized conviction rates to find out which offences are most likely to be committed. Maguire (2002) concluded that

On the main one hand, these claim that crime is dedicated by a much larger proportion of the populace than is officially kept responsible for it. On the other hand, survey respondents who've previously experienced trouble with the law tend to acknowledge to more serious and more regular offending behavior than people who have never been convicted

The studies are of help as people generally do not fear getting in trouble for admitting to the offences, so a more valid picture of the number and magnitude of criminal offenses is given.

Self-report studies do however come with fundamental problems. Unreliable answers are thought to be obtained as; respondents may exaggerate when responding to questions, respondents may be embarrassed so either not admit to a crime or give an unreliable bill of computer, respondents may have ignored the full information on a crime they committed. Nearly all self-reported studies study are conducted on examples of university and college or university students, and are almost never used on adults. This therefore doesn't make them a good technique in studying the general level of crime in world. The studies are also likely to undercover small and trivial offences, but not find out about the major and less common more serious crimes. Because of this, the self-report study cannot be said to be an effective way of looking into crime.

Overall, it would appear that there isn't sole method effective in learning crime, and while the official statistics do support the 'dark-figure', they certainly provide a very useful starting place. When found in mixture with the British Crime Study, the inaccuracy from the 'dark physique' becomes less problematic, and a truer picture of criminal offenses is given. Neither is a powerful way to obtain information on its own, and only give part of the picture.

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