Outline and Assess the View That Official Crime Statistics Are Not Useful to the Sociologist

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Official crime statistics are quantitive date and come from different sources such as The British Crime Survey, Official Government Statistics and Self-report Studies. The Official Government Statistics are accumulated from police and count records; these include convictions, cautions and Crown prosecution service. Whereas, the British crime survey is a victim study which takes place every year. It shows a representative sample of over 16s living in private residents in England and Wales. It is untaken by face to face interviews where respondents are asked about their experiences with crime incidents in the last 12 months. In 2004/5 over 45,000 people took part in the survey. It helps to identify those people most at risk of different types of crime which helps them to plan prevention programmes. The British Crime survey looks at people’s attitude toward crime and the Criminal Justice system. Self report studies ask people if they have committed a series of offences over a period time, which they haven’t got caught or haven’t reported to the police. Most people don’t know that they have committed a crime or even know the penalties for the crimes which they have done. For example, using the company phone to make a personal call can result in £5,000 or 6 months on prison. The prison population is illustrated in the Official Government Statistics. Nearly three-quarters of prisoners were in receipt of benefits immediately before entering prison. This displays that lower classes such as under class and working class are more likely to commit a crime. This can be explained by Millers study of working class males. Millers said that this anti social behaviour is just an extreme development of normal, working class male values. He says that these working class males have six ‘focal concerns’ which lead to deviance; trouble, toughness, smartness, excitement, fate and autonomy. They claim that they don’t look for trouble it just finds them while being physically strong and not being pushed around by others. They seek thrill and have a sharp wit that gets them in more trouble with the law for being out spoken. One half of males and one third of female sentenced prisoners were excluded from school. One half of males and seven out of ten female prisoners have no qualifications. Becker explains this by using labelling theory. While these criminals were in school they got labelled by those in authority such as their teachers. This then creates a label which they wear and other start to treat them in that way. The individual starts to live up to the label because they can’t seem to get rib of it. This is known as a master status and the label become dominant and affects the individual for life and takes over their sense of identity. This is because the label results in others thinking and treating them differently. Furthermore, after master status is reached, the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy occurs which is where the individual goes on to fulfil the expectations of the label. Two thirds of prisoners were unemployed in the four weeks before imprisonment. Merton’s strain theory is one reason why this is the case. Society states that unemployed people are low working class and underclass because they are on benefits and don’t have the intension of getting a job. This could be due to a lack of qualifications. Merton says that people offend as a result of poor fit between the socially accepted goals and values of society and the socially approved norm of achieving these desired goals. He argues that not every person can achieve these values by the normal way. Therefore people break the law to get what they want. For example, a socially approved goal is to have money and the approved means of achieving this is to work hard at school to get a good job, to have money to buy things that they want. However, for the people who don’t gain the qualifications to do this because of labelling or unable to attend school due to family issues, have...
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