Why Might the Figures for Recorded Crime Underestimate the Actual Amount of Crime That Takes Place?

Topics: Crime, Police, Criminology Pages: 3 (956 words) Published: July 8, 2008
Why might the figures for recorded crime underestimate the actual amount of crime that takes place?

Brief definition of crime and the process from committed crime to prosecution. An overview of recorded crime numbers between the years 1876-2000. Given statistics of the actual amount of recorded and unrecorded crime. Possible reasons and examples for crimes not being recorded based on BCS surveys.

To define crime we have to look at it from two different perspectives, one is based on the legal point of view and the other one will be normative, viewed from the society’s or the individual’s perspective. Crime defined by the Law means actions that violate the exact word of a law whereas the normative definition of crime says that crimes are acts which go against certain rules and norms or morals in a given society. Before an act can be called a crime, it needs to be legally recognized as such. It involves sometimes long and complicated processes as there are many aspects to consider. Here is an example: An incident happens that could be classed as crime, if it was unnoticed or not defined as crime it might be not reported or reported but not as crime. If the event was observed and defined as crime by the victim or the witnesses it might be reported to the police. From this point the police decide if further action will be taken or not. If an action is taken it usually leads to arrest and prosecution. The offender can be either only cautioned, found not guilty if prosecuted or convicted (DD121 Introductory Chapter, Croall, 1998, p.16).

According to Maguire, figures of recorded crime changed drastically between the years 1945-2000. Less than 100,000 offences a year were recorded by the police before the 1930s, after that the number rose slightly until the 1940s where it levelled off up to the early 1950s. A rapid growth was to observe from the mid 1950s, the numbers doubled between 1955 and 1964, then doubled again till 1977 and again up to 1991. This...
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