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Crime, Deviance and Society: Measuring Crime

Seminar 3
by

Najeehah Hamid

on 22 November 2013

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Transcript of Crime, Deviance and Society: Measuring Crime

Dark Figure of Crime
Official Statistics
A crime statistic is a crime rate, i.e. a "measure that gives us an index of crime occuring in a particular location for a specific period of time." (Hope, 2005)
Public Reporting
About 80% of crime known to police is reported by police.
Insurance leads to reporting of theft and damage.
Telephones, cell phones and neighbourhood watch.
Ease of complaint process
Views of the police
Views of the victim
Views of public towards particular crime categories
People do not always know that they have been a victim of crime
Victimless crime
Intimidation and fear.
Victim Surveys
Asks people what crimes have been committed against them and whether they have reported those incidents to the police.
eg. Crime Survey of England and Scotland (CSEW)

Crimes not recorded by police.
Use victim surveys to estimate.

Issues with Recording Crime
There is a long legal process that a "crime" goes through to become part of the statistics.
Whether a crime gets recorded depends on the:
PUBLIC REPORTING
POLICE
COURTS
GOVERNMENT
C
rime
W
ave
A sudden increase in the (recorded) number committed in a country or area.
W
H
O
B
E
N
E
F
I
T
S
?
Media benefits from viewership;
Academics benefit as authors, TV show guests, lecturers;
Police pass off as valiantly struggling to serve public;
Politicians
benefit from promoting crime related policies;
Offenders can benefit when they are perceived as being part of a larger group; and
May be increased focus on victims who are then offered compensation or emotional support.
"Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling has been accused of misleading the public in his use of crime statistic." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8498095.stm
David Cameron's "Broken Britain."
"David Cameron and Chris Grayling should apologise for continually misleading the British people about crime." - Boris Johnson, then Home Secretary, now Mayor of London http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/lies-damn-lies-and-tory-crime-statistics-1889927.html
The police act as a "filtering system" for recording crime.
Recording practices of the police depend on
:
Which category of offence;
Reactive policing (responding to incidents vs proactive policing (policies); and
Police forces set priorities targetting particular types of offence.
Factors that affects the amount of recorded crime
:
Number of officers and expenditure
Increased technology
Efficient systems of administration
Cop Culture and Police Discretion
How officers see the world and their role in it.
Social status of victim and offender (Zimmerman vs Marissa Alexander)
Develop theories about individuals and groups, morality and immorality, good and bad people, institutions, practices, typifications of community settings.
eg. Respectable (working, suburban middle class) vs Non-respectable (poor, homeless, homosexuals, hippies, punks, other youth subcultures, etc.)
What is legally considered a crime changes over time. The government makes that decision.

New laws and legislative acts are introduced and implemented.
Some acts are vetoed/decriminalized.
eg. Homosexuality, Gay Marriage, Gay Adoption, Marital Rape, Domestic Abuse, the debate on rape and abortion.
The courts decide who is guilty of an offence and what an offender should be prosecuted for.
THINK!
What type of people are more likely to be professionals in the court setting. (The judges, the jury, prosecutors, lawyers, etc.) How might this affect the outcome of court proceedings?
advantages
Overcomes the problem of non-reporting and non-recording of crime.
Provides a more accurate measurement of crime, thereby revealing some of the hidden figure of crime.



Disadvantages
Not all crimes are included
People may not be aware that they are victims of crime.
People may still be reluctant to reveal victimisation.
Excludes those under 16 and not in households.
Depends on people’s memories; retrospective.

C
a
s
e
s
t
u
d
y
:
rape statistics
If Mittens won the 2012 US Elections.
Conclusion
“When examining our [crime] statistics it must be remembered that not every crime is reported to the police, not every crime that is reported is recorded, not every crime that is recorded is investigated, and not every crime that is investigated is cleared (solved), not every crime that is investigated yields a suspect, not every suspect is apprehended, not every apprehended person is charged, not every charged person is brought before the courts, not every person brought before the courts is convicted, and not every convicted person is imprisoned.”

- Graycar, A. and Grabosky, P. (2002) Trends in Australian Crime and Criminal Justice, in Graycar, A. and Grabosky, P. (eds)
Distortion of Statistics
"Police fix crime statistics to meet targets, MPs told"
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25002927
Full transcript