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Context B, Crime and Deviance, Measuring Crime and Research Statistics


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Title: Context B, Crime and Deviance, Measuring Crime and Research Statistics

Context B, Crime and Deviance, Measuring Crime
andResearch Statistics
How to navigate this Slide Show Either Click
the screen icon below far right for the Slide
Show option. Use the left mouse button to enter
each new bullet point and to move on to the next
page Press Esc to exit Slide Show at any
time. Or use the arrows below to navigate from
one screen to the next Or click on the words on
the left to go to the appropriate slide of your
  • Following this slide show you should be aware
  • That crime statistics are a social construction.
  • That the official crime rate rose steadily for
    the past 100 years and peaked in mid-1990s.
  • That the official rate significantly
    underestimates the real rate of crime.
  • That victim and self-report studies show that
    there is significant under-reporting and
    under-recording of crime.
  • A fear of crime is disproportionate to the
    likelihood of being a victim of crime.

Crime Trend in the UK Over Time
This growth in crime is generally reflected
However, rates are still low in Japan, Singapore,
and Scandinavian countries.
Totalitarian states tend to have lower crime
Reasons For The Rise in Crime
More state action as policing gets better more
crimes are detected.
More laws Because of more legislation on the
statute book, there are more possible crimes
(traffic offences, financial fraud, computer
related crimes, etc.)
More sensitivity People are more sensitive to
reporting crimes physical and sexual violence to
the police.
More victims Because of increased affluence
there are more things to steal. As opportunities
have risen, so have crimes.
The Official Crime Rate (OCR)
In 1998, common assault, possession of a weapon,
assault on a constable and harassment, were added
to recorded crime.
British Crime Survey (BCS)
The BCS measures the amount of crime in England
and Wales by asking people about crimes they have
experienced in the last year.
The BCS includes crimes which are not reported to
the police, so it is an important alternative to
the Official Crime Rate.
Victims do not report crime for various reasons.
Without the BCS the government would have no
information on these unreported crimes.
How crime is measured
  • A large survey of a representative sample of
    people aged 16 and over
  • living in private households in England and Wales
  • Asks about peoples experiences and perceptions
    of crime
  • Includes questions on peoples attitudes
    towards crime-related topics
  • (e.g. anti-social behaviour, the police, and
    criminal justice system)
  • Asks about peoples use of illicit drugs
  • Provides the most reliable measure of the
    extent of victimisation and of
  • national trends over time
  • Not affected by whether the public report crime
    or by changes to the way
  • in which the police record crime

How crime is measures (2)
  • Based on figures supplied by the police to the
    Home Office
  • Covers crimes which are reported to and
    recorded by the police
  • A good measure of trends in well-reported
    crimes and also the less
  • common but more serious crimes
  • An important indicator of police workload
  • Provides data for small geographic areas

How do crimes included in the BCS and police
recorded crime differ?
  • Differences in the profile of offences between
    the two sources are influenced by the different
    coverage of the BCS and police recorded crime
    for example, recorded crime includes crime
    experienced by under 16s and commercial premises,
    and the BCS does not.
  • Some crimes are more likely to be reported and
    recorded than others, overall less than half of
    BCS crime is reported to the police.

Police recorded crime
The majority of crimes are property related.
  • Vandalism accounts for 27 of all BCS crime
    (two-thirds of which is vehicle vandalism)
    criminal damage accounts for one in five (21) of
    crimes recorded by the police.
  • Vehicle-related theft accounts for 15 of all BCS
    crime and offences against vehicles for 13 of
    recorded crime.
  • Burglary accounts for 7 of all BCS crime and 12
    of recorded crime.
  • Violent crime represents around a fifth (21) of
    BCS crime.
  • Violence against the person and sexual offences
    account for 19 and 1 respectively of police
    recorded crime.

British Crime Survey Crime Trend
Trends of Reported Crime, Recorded Crime and the
Crime Rates in the last 5 years
In 2004/05 the British Crime Survey (BCS)
recorded 10.9 million crimes on adults in private
households in England and Wales.
In 2004/05 the Official Crime Rate (OCR) (crimes
recorded by the police) was 5,6 million offences
in England and Wales.
This represents a fall of 6 over the previous
In 2004/05 nearly 24 of the population were the
victim of some type of crime compared to 44 in
Is there more crime than last year?2007 - 2008
  • ? All BCS crime down 10 to 10.1 million crimes
  • ? Violent crime down 12
  • ? Domestic burglary stable
  • ? Vehicle-related theft down 11
  • ? Personal theft stable
  • ? Other household theft down 12
  • ? Vandalism down 10
  • ? Risk of being a victim of crime down from 24
    to 22
  • ? All police recorded crime down 9 to almost 5.0
    million crimes
  • ? Violence against the person down 8
  • ? Most serious violence against the person down
  • ? Sexual offences down 7
  • ? Robbery down 16
  • ? Domestic burglary down 4
  • ? Offences against vehicles down 14
  • ? Criminal damage down 13
  • ? Drugs offences up 18

Official Crime Rate Figures By Crime 2004-05
Criminal Characteristics
The Official Crime Rate (OCR) is compiled
annually by the police for the Home Office.
  • They show criminals are typically
  • Male
  • Working-class
  • Youthful
  • Disproportionately black.

In addition they are likely to have a poor
educational record, and come from a broken home.
Dark Figure of Crime Statistics
Sociologists argue that the Official Crime Rate
of crime seriously underestimates the real or
true rate of crime.
The British Crime Survey suggests that the true
level of crime is at least twice the Official
Crime Rate.
The difference between the official crime rate
and the real crime rate is referred to as the
dark-side of crime statistics
Social Construction of Official Crime Statistics
Criminal statistics are a social construction
because they are the product of social processes.
They involve not only offenders but reporting and
the behaviour of the police.
It is estimated by the BCS that only 31 of
crimes are reported and recorded.
Functionalist View on Statistics
Functionalists share the view of positivists and
tend to accept crime statistics uncritically.
The functionalist-inspired subcultural theory for
example started with the view that crime is a
young, working-class, male phenomenon.
Marxist View on Statistics
Marxists recognise the systematic bias in favour
of the powerful in the application of the law.
As a general rule, the higher people are in the
social system the less likely they are to be
arrested, charged, prosecuted and found guilty.
Marxists stress the significant dark-side of
white-collar and corporate crime that is largely
invisible and absent from crime statistics.
Interactionist/Labelling Theory View of Statistics
This interpretive approach sees crime statistics
as largely useless and a distortion of reality.
They argue statistics are a social construction
and tell us nothing about the real level of
crime, only who compiled them and how.
Labelling theory is more interested in questions
such as why some acts are viewed as more deviant
than others and why some groups become labelled
as deviant.
Left Realist View on Statistics
Left Realists are almost unique (apart from
Functionalists) in accepting that official
statistics have some value and should not be
rejected out of hand.
They accept the statistical view that typical
offenders are young, male, working-class and
disproportionately black.
Using victim studies, they highlight how people
(especially the poor and vulnerable) have real
fears of crime.
Feminist View on Statistics
Feminists argue that crime statistic underplay
the extent of females as victims personal
attack domestic violence, etc.
Until recently the police viewed attacks in the
home as domestics and were reluctant to get
Many female victims of physical and sexual attack
are reluctant to report offences. (See Chapter 8
for more detail).
Underreporting of Crime
The British Crime Survey found that
44 of crime victims felt the incident was not
sufficiently serious to report.
33 claimed the police would be unsuccessful in
solving the crime, so felt it was not worth
reporting it.
22 did not report the crime as they felt the
police would not be interested.
4 did not report crimes because they were
fearful of reprisals. 4 did not report crimes
because of inconvenience.
Underreporting (Continued)
Some crimes are not reported because they are
victimless, e.g. drug-taking, smuggling,
prostitution, etc.
Some crimes are not reported because of the
humiliation felt by the victim such as rape,
domestic violence, etc.
Corporate and white-collar crime is extremely
difficult to detect and thus report.
Under-recording Police as Filters
Moore, Aiken and Chapman (2000) see the police as
filters, only recording some of crimes reported
to them.
Seriousness the offence may be regarded as too
Social status of the victim important people
tend to get a more favoured response than the
poor, down and outs and homeless.
Classifying the crime (minor assaults may not
be investigated but aggravated assaults usually
Police as Filters (continued)
Discretion each police officer has the
discretion to press charges or let the individual
off even if they are known to be guilty.
(Those whose demeanour is deferential,
co-operative and polite are more likely to be let
off for minor offences. Consider here Aaron
Ciçourels negotiation, Howard Beckers
labelling theory and Skolnicks canteen
Promotion and relations at work Police officers
have to tread a tightrope between trying to
impress senior officers and not appearing too
keen (as this makes more work for their
The Cuffing of Crime
The dishonest practice of not recording crimes is
known inside the police as cuffing or Spanish
It is suggested by some that the fall in crime in
the 1990s was manipulated by police cuffing
rather than a real fall in crime rates.
Victim Studies
These are surveys of people who are asked to
report all cases where they have been a victim of
crime recently.
Examples can be local like the Islington Crime
Survey (1986 and 1995) or national like the
British Crime Survey (annually).
Victim surveys give a clearer idea of the extent
of crime, who is likely to be a victim and
peoples fears about crime.
They also highlight the risk of repeat
victimisation of victims.
British Crime Survey
An annual survey conducted by the Home Office of
40,000 households with data fed into laptops.
Now includes a section on domestic violence, but
interviews are usually with male head of
Does not include corporate or workplace crime,
victimless crime or crimes against people under
age of 16.
So it still underestimates the real rate of crime.
Weaknesses of Victim Studies
Relying on people's memory is a problem as
recollections may be incorrect or biased.
Sometimes people put crimes into the wrong
Surveys exclude white-collar crimes such as fraud
and corporate crime these become effectively
'invisible crimes'.
People will not report 'victimless crimes' such
as drug taking, or prostitution.
There is an under-reporting of personal attack,
domestic violence and sexual crimes, despite
anonymity. (Note the media sensitising issues
can encourage people to report).
Self-Report Studies
These ask people to honestly confess to crimes
they have committed over a period of time.
They can be an important way of getting a better
picture of some crimes like drug-use.
Anne Campbell gave a self-report study to young
females and found they had almost as high a crime
rate as young males.
However, Steven Box argued that if petty crime
was removed then the male-female ratio was closer
to the official one 51.
Weaknesses of Self-Report Studies
Steven Box (1971) argues self-report studies
suffer from issues of validity,
representativeness and relevance
Validity are they true to life? Respondents
can forget, play-down or exaggerate the extent of
criminal activity they have been involved in.
Representativeness. Since most self-report
studies are on young people, they rarely include
professional or managerial adults.
Relevance' the majority of crimes reported are
Statistical Explosion in a Risk Society
Ulrich Beck (1995, pictured left) coined the term
risk society to refer to the shared knowledge
of contemporary risks, including rising crime.
Mike Maguire (2002) notes how we are bombarded
with data not just from the Home Office but
researchers, agencies and even victims. This adds
to our knowledge and fear of crime.
Garland (2001) argues in late modernity we have
lost confidence in governments. This explains why
when officially the crime rate is falling, many
people believe it is still rising.
The Causes of Crime
  • The 2007/08 BCS showed that drugs and lack of
    discipline from parents were the two factors most
    commonly selected as one of the major causes of
    crime in Britain today (71 and 69
  • When people were asked which single factor they
    believed was the main cause of crime in Britain
    today, three out of ten (30) said drugs, while a
    further three out of ten (29) people thought
    lack of discipline from parents was the main
    cause (Table 5d).
  • More than half of people (52) also thought that
    alcohol was one of the major causes of crime,
    although a much smaller proportion (7) thought
    it was the main cause of crime in Britain today.

Factors considered to be causes of crime in
Britain today, 2006/07 and 2007/08BCS
  • Refer to table 5d on page 131of
  • Crime in England and Wales 2007/08
  • Findings from the British Crime Survey and police
    recorded crime. (see web link below)
  • http//

Fear of Crime
Fear of Crime
Age Not only do elderly people fear crime but
both males and females under 25 report the
highest levels of fear for most types of crime.
Gender Women are almost 3 times as likely to
fear physical attack than men.
Ethnicity People from minority ethnic
backgrounds fear crime more than the majority
White population.
Risk of being a victim of violent crime, 2007/08
Fear of Crime of the Over-60s
Percentage aged 60 or over feeling 'very' unsafe
when walking alone at night, 2004/05 (Source ONS
Fear of Crime
Finding by the Islington Crime Survey (1995) and
shared by Left Realism is that there is a real
fear of crime amongst the public.
The group most likely to be a victim of violence
is young males. In 88 of cases they know their
Ironically, deprived inner-city areas and sink
housing estates have the highest levels of crime.
Such people who are victims of burglary stand a
high risk of repeat victimisation.
Reflective Questions
In Chapter 1 we saw how crime is a social
construction stemming from Governments changing
laws in response to cultural changes and
influence of powerful groups.
1. Why does this make comparing crime rates and
trends difficult over time?
Most judicial systems reward people if they plead
guilty. In the USA this is quite open and known
as plea bargaining.
2. What impact might this have on the seriousness
of crimes admitted to and solved?
End of Presentation