Crime Statistics Are Unrealiable For Criminologists

1666 words - 7 pages

Crime Statistics are unreliable and not useful for criminologists
Throughout criminology there is a great debate about the reliability and usefulness of crime statistics. I will attempt to look at the realist view which states that they provide an accurate reflection of the extent of crime and the constructionist view which sees crime statistics as a clear objective for crime as it is socially constructed. Social factors such as policing discretion, laws changing and whether or not crimes will be reported have a huge influence on crime statistic. Therefore to understand if crime statistics are reliable and useful for criminologists we need to understand the relation between social factors ...view middle of the document...

’ Another reason why victimisation surveys are seen as more reliable is because it gives a higher quality of data in relation to domestic crimes that police reports may not include, because victims of these crimes may be too scared or embarrassed to come forward and report the crime to the police. Walby et al highlights the 2001 British Crime Survey which included a detailed self-completion questionnaire which gave the most accurate estimates of the extent and nature of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking for England and Wales. The big reason why victimisation survey is seen to be more reliable and useful than official police records is because it is from a victims point of view , crimes that may have happened but were not reported or recorded by the police are included within the survey. Therefore according to these criminologists crime surveys would be more reliable and useful for criminologists to use rather than crime statistics as there may be crime that was committed but not recorded to the police. Nevertheless, the reliability of statistics on offending remains questionable. There are myths within society that deal with the crime problem as well as corporate interests which drive political activities, which in turn work to mould public perceptions. These are completed by the media who tend to sensationalize street crime, for instance, in order to attract the readership (Chambliss , 2001; Reiner, 1997; Slapper & Tombs, 1999). Realist criminologists believe they paint an accurate picture of the different crimes that are more often committed. Although the reliability of the crime statistics are still under scrutiny because in almost all cases of a crime the focus of the survey is on the crime experienced by the household or an individual which leaves gaps in the statistics given for corporate or state crime, they also arguably define ‘victim’, ‘criminal’ and ‘crime’ in limited terms and highlight ‘conventional’ crime over others
( Carrabine et al 2004). One criticism of the victimisation surveys are that they are assessed on the victims household such as vandalism or theft (Dodd et al., 2004), which leaves a gap for homeless offenders or victims who, will not be represented within the survey figures leading to this then be reflected in the dark figure or crime. Due to the fact that victimisation surveys are sent to households and not collected personally by researchers there is the problem of people not understanding what may be categorized as a crime such as a mobile phone theft or they may also lie in their response exaggerating or lying on their experiences of crime. This then leads to an unrepresentive figure of those crimes and those who have been victimized (Hale et al 2005) . The view of constructionist sociologists is therefore supported with this argument because crime statistics would be unreliable and useless.

Criminologists generate their own data in the course of their research using crime statistics....

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