Assess the Reliability of Crime Statistics

Assess the Reliability of Crime Statistics

Module: SO0752A Introduction to Crime and Deviance

To what extent should official statistics be relied upon to give an accurate picture of crime? Give examples of specific crimes to support your answer.

The Government publishes official statistics on crime in Britain annually. The term ‘official statistics’ normally refers to data collected by the state and its agencies. The research methods used can be both quantitative and qualitative. There are two primary sources of data used in order to assist the general public in learning about the extent of crime; these are generally termed ‘official’ and ‘unofficial statistics’. However, the objectives of these methods are similar but the findings from them are generally not. The main source of ‘official statistics’ is gathered from crime recorded by the Police and Courts, British Traffic Police, Customs & Excise. Another source of statistical information is The British Crime Survey (BCS), these statistics are unofficial and the procedures are entirely different. The BCS endeavours to provide a count of crime that consists of episodes not reported to the police, therefore examining the "dark figure" of crime, which is not recorded in official statistics. The British Crime Survey is a large scale victim survey conducted annually by the Home Office. Combined, these statistics should provide us with an accurate reading of the full extent of crime in Britain. However, this is not often the case as there are a number of factors influencing these figures, I will explore these factors further throughout this essay in order to assess whether official statistics should be relied upon to give an accurate picture of crime.

Attempting to assess the extent of crime is often difficult due to the amount that goes unreported. The most fundamental limitation of official crime statistics today is that they only include crimes recorded by the Police and a substantial amount of crime goes unreported. Statistics show that vehicle...

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