Assess the Usefulness of Crime Statistics to a Sociological Understanding of Crime?

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Assess the usefulness of crime statistics to a sociological understanding of crime?

Criminal statistics are usually quoted as 'hard facts'; are often used to support the view that there is a rapidly increasing rate of serious crime in modern society. It is on the basis of these statistics that important decisions are made by governments in relation to their policies towards crime and its treatment. However the positivistic reliance on such statistics as the basis of their sociology has been brought into question by constructivist approaches - interpretive sociology and critical sociology both of which refuse to take the statistics at face value. The former raised questions about the scientific claims of positivism; demonstrated that the crime statistics were social constructs; and raised awareness of the dark figure. A critical sociology developed this understanding in relationship to questions of power and ideology and focused on the state production of such figures, but was prepared to use the statistics in a reflexive manner.

The trends in crime suggest that the young rather than the old, people living in urban areas rather than rural, working class rather than middle class and lastly males rather than females. In terms of age, both sexes, criminal activity appears to peak in adolescence and early adulthood. C.Coleman & J.Moynihan suggests that the Official Statistics are biased in such a way as to over-represent young offenders and under-represent the older offender. In terms of sex criminal statistics in all countries have consistently shown that more males than females appear before the courts and are convicted for criminal activities. Official statistics suggest that women tend to commit a relatively narrow band of offences in comparison to men. The difference can be in part explained by differing socialisation and social expectations. There is the difference of opportunities as men are more likely to occupy public spaces as against the private...
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