How can crime best be measured What is the general picture of crime that emerges from data on crimeHow can crime best be measures In my opinion I find that the best way we could measure crime is by official statistics and the British crime survey (BCS). Some crimes and offences may not be recorded for many reasons for example the victim may be unaware that a crime has been perpetrated. This is especially likely if the crime is one against a large corporation such as shop lifting also the victim may be worried about other consequences of reporting, such as court. There may also be a fear of reprisals.The police also have a statutory obligation to record crimes. There are a number of rules for the collecting of criminal statistics, by the police, but the basic criteria for recording an incident as a crime are:
There must be prima facie evidence, in the eyes of the police, that a notifiable offence has been committed.
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The case must be sufficiently serious to merit police attention-i.e.; any identified offender should in the normal course be prosecuted, cautioned or dealt with in some other formal way.
Here are some of the main police recorded crimes:
Violence against the person
Fraud and forgery
The British crime survey stabilises after long periods if reduction. They also represent an important means of countering some of these problems and also providing an additional authoritative source of crime statistics. If crime as indicated by the British crime survey is substantially greater than suggested by police statistics it is still far less than the actual figure, if that could be known.
A Further factor that appears to affect the level of recorded offences is the number of police officers. The fewer officers, the lower the officially recorded crime rates will be. This may be coincidence but may also account for some of the rise in recorded crime in the 1980??™s when police numbers were rising and might account for some of a later decline in recorded offences when police numbers have been declining. However the relationshipis not mechanical: since 2000 police numbers have been rising and recorded crime dropping. This may be due to a larger police work load through pro-active policing.
According to home office (1999), the results of all these factors are quite considerable:
Of every100offences committed:
Only 24.3are recorded,
Only 5.5are cleared up,
Only0.8result in police caution,
Only2.2result in conviction
Only0.3result in custodial sentence
The rate of victim reports stable since 1995 but police recording increased up to 2004 due to NCRS. 1% decrease in last year. Reporting rates vary by crime (e.g. vehicle thefts 94%; Burglary 81%; common assault 35%; theft from the person 33%).
BCS – 48% violent crime did not result in injury.
BCS ??“ Full time students and 16-24 yr old males most likely to be victim of violent crime
There were 756 homicides in 2005/06 (including 52 victims of July 7 bombings) (12.6%)!
How, then, can we summarize the similarities and differences between the pictures of
Crime that have emerged from the BCS and the recorded crime figures First, the central
Message sent out by the authors of the BCS during the initial passage of its results
Into the public domain was, in essence: the bad news is that there is a lot more crime
Than we thought, the good news is that most of it is not very serious. Their remark about
???The petty nature of most law-breaking??™ (Hough and Mayhew 1983: 33) was designed to
Deflect a possible moral panic in reaction to the huge amount of ???new??™ crime revealed by
The survey, but it also reflected the key finding??”supported by all surveys conducted
Since??”that unreported crimes generally involve much lower levels of financial loss,
Damage and injury than those reported to the police.
Secondly, aside from the much larger totals of offences, the BCS produces a basic picture
Of crime not wildly dissimilar to that projected by police records: for example,
???Auto crime??™ (theft of or from vehicles) is prominent in both sets of figures, and property
Crime is more frequent than violence. BCS crime, even more than the police figures, is
Dominated above all by offences committed by strangers: it has been much less successful
In identifying ???serial??™ offences such as frequent sexual or physical assaults by people
Known to the victim. Most incidents reported to the survey consist of discrete incidents
In which individuals suddenly and unexpectedly suffer an assault, the theft of or damage
To a piece of their property, or an illegal entry into their house. Crime in this mode
Takes on an appearance in many ways akin to an accident, or an ???act of God??™??”an almost
Random event which can strike anyone at any time, but which is relatively rare in the life
Of any individual.
Finally, the overall shape of trends in crime between the early 1980s and the late
1990s emerges as similar in each case, although the BCS suggests a less steep rise. The
Two sets of data also give similar messages about significant falls in certain offences over
The last ten years (notably burglary). However, not only are the overall falls in crime
Since 1995 less sharp in the recorded crime figures (even after adjustments for the
Changes in counting rules and the introduction of the NCRS), but in the case of violence
There appear to be contradictory trends, the police statistics suggesting considerable
Rises (again after adjustments) and the BCS considerable falls.
Despite these recent doubts, the BCS has gained the respect of most criminologists as
A useful tool for measuring trends in certain types of crime??”notably the clear-cut
???Stranger to stranger??™ incidents referred to above. One of its impacts has been that few
Still take the extreme line that the steady increases in crime indicated by official statistics
Between the late 1950s and early 1990s was entirely an artificial creation of data
Collection-processes. Most now agree, at least, that the incidence of visible predatory
Crimes such as burglary and vehicle theft did increase over this period. This may not
Seem a surprise now, but it was a major step for many radical criminologists to take, and
Writers such as Jock Young, who with others developed the ???Left Realist??™ movement in
The 1980s had to fight polemical battles with academics he dubbed ???Left Idealists??™ to
Establish his view that long-term increases in these kinds of crime not only were real,
But had created a serious social problem (Matthews and Young 1986; Young 1988a;
Crime data and statistics 275
Rock, this volume. Indeed, as we shall see in the next section, his argument with the
BCS was that it did not reveal the exceptional extent and range of crime suffered by particular
Kinds of victims, principally vulnerable people living in socially deprived areas.