Crime statistics endeavour to provide statistical measures of crime in societies. They provide a point of analysis and comparison, allow countries to form long-term patterns and trends and can help to develop and reform criminal justice policies as well as being more meaningful than raw numbers. Using the countries of Bahrain and the United States as a comparison point for the following issues which surround crime statistics such as biases, agendas and general influences like education and religion; this essay will be focused around analysing the statistical factors and wider influences which can allow a country to have low or high crime rates.
Definitions of what exactly constitutes being a crime differ not only across countries but even across states. This can be an issue with statistics as in order to measure and compare crime consistently crimes need to be classified and placed into groups of similar offences. While murder is a crime recognized and agreed upon by most nations, what makes up a homicide may be more challenging and then even simply just a ‘crime against the person’ can vary widely. This often means that what makes up a crime for many offences can vary throughout jurisdictions. This is a problem when categorizing offences for international statistical comparison. An example of this is the way that laws differ state to state within the United States, while ‘offences known to police’ is a statistic seen as quite a high representative figure of the offences, a lot of researches see that no official measure can ever come close to the actual amount of criminality that exists in any form in society (Archer, 1984) Definitional problems are concerned with whether or not crimes have equivalent meanings between nations, which in most cases a lot of crimes seem not to have. Countries most often vary in behaviours which can sometimes be seen as coming within the space of the law. So for any kind of comparison of crime rates to work at all, it is crucial that the definitions of crimes and the categories they are placed in are similar. The next issue with definitions is that even the different organizations that compile crime statistics differ within their own definitions. INTERPOL for example defines murder as: Any act performed with the purpose of taking human life, excluding abortion but including infanticide (and including attempts).(Kalish, 1988) While the World Health Organization (WHO) does not distinguish between intentional or unintentional homicides but does not include attempts under this organization attempts fall under a separate legal distinction(Kalish, 1988). And again, the United Nations have a different definition for homicide:
Death purposely inflicted by another person, including infanticide. (Kalish, 1988) Due to major issues with the above topics across all countries, due to definitional and categorical differences, crime statistics can differ significantly. In Bahrain, crimes against the individual are ranked in relation to the seriousness of the offence, murder, attempted murder, murder by error, assault, threatening and others. In the United States, offences are not classed separately, but into broad categories which are homicides, robberies and assaults. Bahrain does not report rape as a single category and in response, no reports of rape have been sent to their criminal investigation unit (Ministry of Information, 1985).
The quality of the way crime is reported is likely to be influenced by a wide range of practices and techniques in different jurisdictions. For example in Bahrain, individual police departments participation in reporting crime rates is compulsory, but neither the numbers of convictions or the final outcome of cases are reported, whereas, local police departments in the United States are under no obligation to report back crime rates from their areas as participation is voluntary (Newman, 1993)....