Crime Statistics (The social construction of crime statistics (Changes in…
The social construction of crime statistics
Too trivial, involved no loss, police not interested or cant do anything about it
A private matter which they deal with themselves
Inconvenient to report
Other reasons include: offence was a common occurrence; victims own fault; offender was not responsible for their actions; fear of reprisals, and dislike or fear of the police or previous bad experience; may harm the reputation of the institution where the crime occurs.
Has been satisfactorily resolved, or victim doesn't wish to continue with complaint
May regard the person complaining as unreliable
Police may interpret the law in such a way that what is reported is not regarded as an offence
Changes in reporting, and counting and recording crime
Changing police attitudes
People bringing up less important incidents
Changing social norms and public attitudes
Community policing and higher policing levels
Changing counting rules = more recorded, not more crime
More sophisticated training, equipment, and technology
Changes in the law
People have more to lose today
People may exaggerate
People may forget they were victimized
People may not realise they were victims of a crime
They often don't include all crime e.g. CSEW excludes commercial premises, and therefore business crime
Victims may feel embarrassed or guilt at admitting to being a victim
Consensual or victimless crime
The validity of findings
They may ignore respondents' own definition of crime
They rely on memory
Lack of representativeness
The use of crime statistics by sociologists
Statistics provide a biased view on crime, as they underrepresent crimes of the powerful and give the impression that crime is mainly a working-class phenomenon.
The pattern shown in stats further fuels these stereotypes, which generates a SFP, as they provide a guide to the police on the 'typical offender'.
Stats are social constructs, and useful only to reveal the stereotypes, labelling and assumptions of the public, and the institutional racism and sexism in the CJS.
Functionalism, New Right, Right Realism
Broadly accept stats as accurate and representative of most crime, and useful for establishing trends and patterns in crime, and as a base for forming hypotheses for building theories.
Stats under-represent the extent of female crime, and crimes by men against women
Stats are broadly correct, though the underrepresent white-collar and corporate crime, and exaggerate the extent of working class crime.
The source of crime statistics
Police recorded crime
Court and prison records, and records on police cautions
Trend in crime
1930s-50s: gradual rise
1950s-80s: steeper rise
1980s-90s: rapid increase
1990s-2015: gradual annual decline
The pattern of offending
Young people (1/3 of crime)