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Flashcards on Statistics and Patterns of Crime (1.5)


Sociology A2 - Crime and Deviance (Statistics and Patterns of Crime) Flashcards on Flashcards on Statistics and Patterns of Crime (1.5), created by Em Maskrey on 04/30/2018.
Em Maskrey
Flashcards by Em Maskrey, updated more than 1 year ago
Em Maskrey
Created by Em Maskrey over 4 years ago

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Question Answer
What are the three methods used by sociologists to build up a picture of crime patterns? 1. Police recorded statistics. 2. Victim studies. 3. Self-report studies.
What are police-recorded statistics? Statistics taken from the records kept by the police and other official agencies. These are published every 6 months by the Home Office and date back to 1857.
What are victim studies? Studies based on surveys asking a sample of people about their experiences (if any) as victims of crime. These are useful in estimating unrecorded crime and for identifying trends but don't cover victimless crimes. The most important victim study is the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW).
What are self-report studies? These involve conducting surveys to ask people if they have committed crimes. They rely on the truthfulness of respondents but are useful for revealing the sorts of people who commit different types of crime.
How are police-recorded statistics sometimes seen? As socially constructed - a product of society, rather than objective facts. As such, they cannot be taken at face value.
Police-recorded statistics are based on information collected by criminal justice agencies. However, what problem arises here? Some crimes go unreported and therefore are not recorded.
According to the CSEW, why might an individual be less likely to report a crime? They might consider it to be too trivial to bother the police with, be too embarrassed to report it, regard it as a private matter between those involved, have no opportunity to report it, or may fear the consequences of reporting it.
On the other hand, what might persuade a person to report a crime? They are more likely to report a crime if they see some sort of benefit to doing so and/or if they have faith in the police's ability to achieve a positive result.
How many crimes reported to the police in 2014 that should have been recorded were not included in the statistics? 19%.
There are large numbers of crimes of which people believe they have been victims but that are not reported or recorded. How is the total number of unrecorded crimes referred to? As the 'dark figure'.
The dark figure can be estimated but cannot be measured precisely. What discrepancy does the existence of the dark figure cause? The discrepancy between the statistics given by victim surveys and the police-recorded statistics.
Both victim survey statistics and police-recorded statistics indicate that, in the very long term, crime has increased. They also agree that crime rates have recently dropped somewhat. However, what do they disagree on? When the drop in crime rates occurred - the CSEW argues that it was the mid-1990s while police figures indicate that it was the early 2000s.
Although the general trends revealed are similar in the police figures and the CSEW, numbers of violent crimes recorded by the police have increased in recent years, while they have declined according to the CSEW. What may be the reason for this, according to Tim Newburn? This may be the result of changes in police counting rules, which have led to more incidents being counted as separate offences, resulting in an apparent increase in offending.
It can be argued that the police filter the information supplied to them by the public according to factors that they deem important. What are the four factors they refer to? 1. Seriousness. 2. Classification. 3, Social status. 4. Discretion.
What is meant by 'seriousness'? Whether the police regard the offence as trivial or simply not criminal at all.
What is meant by 'classification'? When a report is made, the police must decide what category it falls into. This classification will determine its seriousness. The officer's opinion therefore determines whether a crime is regarded as serious and how (if at all) it should be handled.
What is meant by 'social status'? Officers may not view the social status of the person reporting the matter as high enough to make the matter one of importance. Likewise, the social status of the offend may determine whether they are charged and punished.
What is meant by 'discretion'? The chances of being arrested increase significantly depending on the demeanour of the suspected offender. Youths who cooperate and are polite to officers are less likely to be arrested than those regarded as disrespectful.
Official statistics of crimes committed and punished also reflect what? The decisions and sentences of the courts.
British courts work on the assumption that people will plead guilty. What percentage of people do enter a guilty plea? About 75%.
Why do so many people plead guilty? This is often the result of an informal and largely unspoken agreement in which the defence will attempt to have their client charged with the offence carrying the lightest possible punishment in exchange for a guilty plea (and thus a guaranteed sentence).
While plea bargaining results in an overwhelming majority of guilty pleas, what are these pleas sometimes for? Crimes that are less serious than those actually committed.
What impact will this have on the statistics? They will reflect this downgrading of seriousness.
What is considered to be a crime changes over time, as a result of governments changing the law in response to cultural changes and the influence of powerful groups. What impact does this have on the exploration of crime over a period of time? It becomes very difficult, because any rise or fall in the levels of crime may reflect changes in the law as much as changes in crime.
What are statistics also influenced by? The views held by particular police constables - some chief constables may pursue drug users more than others, for example.
Additionally, changing social attitudes can influence the behaviour of the police too. Give a case example: The Jimmy Saville case - concern for child welfare became heightened and more and more instances of potential abuse were reported and investigated as a result.
Another way of estimating the extent and patterns of crime is by using victim surveys. How are these conducted? A sample of the population, either locally or nationally, is asked which offences they have been victims of over a certain period of time.
What are the strengths of using victim surveys? - They overcome the fact that a significant proportion of offences are never recorded by the police. - They give a good picture of the extent and patterns of victimisation.
However, there are several disadvantages to victim surveys. Give examples: - Victims' memories and recollections are often faulty and biased. - The victims are responsible for categorising the crimes they have been victim to, resulting in inaccuracy. - Surveys often omit a range of crimes. - Despite being anonymous, people seem to underreport sexual offences. - Sometimes a person may not yet know that they have been victim to a crime.
Despite their limitations, victim surveys have produced some interesting findings on the victims of crime. For example, the CSEW found that which group of individuals are most likely to be victims of violence? Young males on a low income.
Although victim surveys show that there is much more crime committed than that reported to the police, how can much of this crime be described? As of a comparatively trivial nature.
The third way in which data may be collected is through self-report studies. Why are these particularly useful? Because they reveal much about the kind of offenders who are not caught or processed by the police. This is the best way to find out about victimless crime.
However, self-report studies have been criticised for lacking validity. Why? Respondents may lie or exaggerate when answering. Even when they intend to be honest, they may give the wrong answers, resulting in incorrect data.
Self-report surveys also have a problem of representativeness. Discuss: Because of the ease at which they can be studied, most self-report surveys are on young people and students. However, this is not a representative sample of our population as a whole.
Finally, there is a problem of relevance when using self-report surveys. What is meant by this? Because of the issue of representativeness, the majority of crimes uncovered tend to be trivial.
Despite their weaknesses, self-report surveys have one significant strength. What is it? The only information that is available about offenders, other than that coming from official statistics, comes from self-report surveys.
Self-report surveys are very useful in proving the existence of what? Systematic bias in the criminal justice system.
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