Crime and Deviance

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Understanding Crime Statistics

1. The level of recorded crime may decrease due to the enormous pressure and expectations put on police departments by society to keep crime down. Increased and improved police resources and harsher custodial sentences is what Police departments claim to be the reason for the reduction in crime.

However this being said it has been suggested that Police departments may have altered crime statistic figures, in order to meet new Home Office efficiency targets.

“Crime experts say that at least 2220,000 crimes, including burglary, assault, theft and car crimes, vanished from the official statistics last year as a result of police manipulation of the figures” The Sunday Times, 16th October 1994.

This evidence suggests that not only are crime statistics inaccurate, but also that Police departments are concealing the true situation and real number of criminal incidences. Additionally not only have crimes disappeared off record but also serious crimes such as violent attacks, burglaries and car theft are being recorded as less serious crimes which do not appear on the official crime statistics. All of this evidence contributes to the idea that the ‘so called fall in recorded crime’ is misleading to say the least.

2. The reason why the levels of conviction may increase for any type of offence can be a result of many different factors. Some of which include, more crimes being reported to the Police, therefore leading to more possible convictions. Increased and improved police resources, for example number plate recognition (identifying drives without insurance and tax). Increase in CCTV and security systems. The courts may decide to increase the consequences for different types of crime by making an example of a number of offenders.

Another reason for an increase could be due to a crack down on a specific sort of crime. For example in 2008 police in Nottinghamshire decided to launch a campaign in order to crack down on the number of drink drivers over the Christmas period.

“Figures showed 164 of 1,820 people breathalysed from 1 December 2008 to 1 January 2009 were found to be over the legal limit and subsequently arrested”. BBC News UK 2009

This type of campaign showed an obvious increase in the amount of people arrested for drink driving offences and therefore increased the conviction level for this type of offence over that period.

3. The iceberg analogy in relation to crime statistics is an important reminder of the reality surrounding its accuracy. Many social historians have suggested there is a ‘dark figure’ of crime whilst some people use the iceberg as a metaphor to explain crime statistics. The tip of the iceberg represents recorded crime whilst what’s hidden beneath the surface represents unrecorded crime (dark figure), in comparison only around 10% of the iceberg makes up recorded crime.

The tip of the iceberg is made up of prisoner statistics, court statistics and police statistics. However this source is only able to reflect a minority of ‘actual crime’ that corresponds to the legal definitions of crime. For a considerable number of crimes, victimisation surveys and studies of self-reported criminal behaviour are able to provide a much fuller picture, however none of these measure the whole of the iceberg

This criticism can lead to one questioning the reliability and validity of crime statistics because these statistics are only based on reported crime and disregards the idea of unreported crime, police manipulation of figures and any crimes that go undetected. For these statistics to be taken more seriously they need to be interpreted much more carefully and the ‘dark figure’ needs to be taken into account when putting together the statistics.

4. Crime is a term used to describe a breach of rules or laws, it relates to what is enforced by the law and may result in certain consequences (prosecution and punishment in court)....
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