Outline and assess the usefulness of official statistics in measuring crime

676 Words Dec 26th, 2013 3 Pages
Sociology: Outline and assess the usefulness of official statistics in measuring crime.
Crime is basically any sort of behaviour or an act which breaks laws of a society and is punished by the legal system. What is considered criminal or deviant is culturally determined. This means that what is considered criminal or deviant changes with time and place, as the values, norms and expectations change. What may not be acceptable in one society at a particular time may be acceptable in another country or acceptable at another time, for example drug cafes in Amsterdam.

Police Crime Figures have been recorded and published annually by the Home Office since the year 1857. Crime statistics are compiled in the basis of “offences notified to
…show more content…
Another source of survey data on crime and deviance is self-report studies, where people are asked if they have committed any crime. Self-report studies are similar to victim surveys except that they ask respondents to admit to crimes they have committed. This type of survey data are less widely used than BCS, but are also anonymous and representative of the population. Steven Box, a Marxist, analysed 40 self-report studies and concluded that juvenile crime was not a working-class problem but rather that the middle-class were less likely to get caught. I believe respondents may not tell the truth because they may feel embarrassed, may exaggerate or they may have forgotten the offence.

To conclude, I believe the official statistics are very useful to us as they help to inform us about the rates of crime as well as government policy. They are annually published and anyone with internet access can view/download the data. These statistics cover a large part of the population and as they are collected by the state they are seen to have a great deal of validity. They can easily be compared to the previous statistics and their quantative nature allows trends and patterns to be established. The ability to go back and check the findings means that the data are reliable. However, there are some disadvantages of official statistics. It is reported Official Crime Statistics only show 30% of crimes committed. The…