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January 10, 2009 / C H Thompson

Hidden or dark figures of crime

crimestats2006This whole unit is going to focus on crime and deviance but how do we know how much crime there is in the UK?

There is a range of statistics used to record the amount of crime in the UK. However before we examine the different statistical methods in more detail, the first thing we have to appreciate is the fact not all crimes are recorded or reported.

This might come as a shock, but there is a significant amount of crimes which go unrecorded. Unrecorded crimes are known as either ‘dark figures’ or ‘hidden crimes’, because the crimes did occur, it is just they were never recorded for example elder abuse.

The document below presents a more detailed account of the main reasons why these ‘dark figures’ exist. And the second page of the document has a small task which needs to be completed.

The problem with crime statistics is they give a distorted picture. A county like Dorset might have 300 recorded burglaries each month, but 299 of these recorded burglaries were of a small monetary value. burglary350Whereas the 300th was a massive fraud undertaken by one person who stole £100m. So how would you assess the seriousness of Dorset’s burglary figures? On the basis of numbers (which are low) or on the basis of monetary value (which was low, except for the 300th)!

Each county’s crime figures are available for public scrutiny each month, so the public can make certain their police force is meeting government targets. The problem with crime statistics is creating a context in which to understand what the figures tell the reader. Look at Dorset’s crime figures here. Also it is important to recognise the media’s role in our perception of crime. This Bournemouth Echo article shows how police forces employ PR people to manage the publics knowledge of crime. Maybe the police know more people will read the local paper than visit their website!

Crime rates are seen to rise and yet this could be due to the fact more crimes are reported than in the past. This could be due to:

  1. The rise in the number of mobile phones means it’s easier to report incidents
  2. The increase in people carrying expensive iPods, mobile phones, laptops on their persons increases the likelihood of spontaneous crime and insurance claims for the loss of these items which need aapple-ipod-nano-8gb-3g1 crime number
  3. The increase in expensive household electrical goods and car ownership, means more claims to insurance companies who now insist on a crime number when claims are made, so all these incidents now tend to be reported   
  4. The growth of internet shopping has seen a massive increase in credit and debit card fraud
  5. Since New Labour came to power, legislative changes have created over 700 new crimes

Task 1 Crime & Deviance: Please go to task 1 and complete questions 3 to 6

Next lesson

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