The sample essay on Why Are Crime Statistics Important deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches, and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
This paper will consider which activities are officially counted as crime and feature in the official crime statistics, opening with a view as to why some activities do, whilst others, quite clearly and equally criminal, do not figure amongst these official statistics. This approach acknowledges that not all crimes, for whatever reasons, are reported to or acted upon by the police.
We will consider serious and dangerous activities that some may deem equally criminal but which never find their way into the official statistics as a result of what Steven Box identifies as ‘ideological mystification.
Having examined this paradoxical situation, we will consider the futility of using crime statistics in the tracking of crimes, and in the implementation of measures against them. Before addressing this question, it would be helpful to be aware of what official criminal statistics represent in reality, and what they can actually tell us.
Given this understanding, it seems that we can never be completely sure that the data, which represent certain activities as crime, fully reflects the true extent to which crime is being committed.
There are many variables that need to be taken account of, such as the number of pursuits legally counted as crimes that are actually being reported to, and recorded by, the police. The most important issue here is the requirement for consistency in recording; yet the discretion that we know to be open to, and exercised by, the police affords them the freedom to manipulate the records in order to suit some hidden agenda or ulterior motive (e.
g. he need for the police to meet Key Performance Indicators; or attempts to show crime as being higher or lower than the figures would in actual fact suggest), thus allowing the statistics to be constructed in such a way as to mislead and misinform politicians and the general public about the level of crime in our society.
Therefore, if we do not have a clear picture from true and accurate statistics, it would appear to be futile to rely on these for the purposes of tracking crime or, indeed, in applying the measures taken against it. The ‘dark figure’ of crime (unrecorded crimes) is not represented within the official criminal statistics. These unrecorded crimes can include anything from the pilfering of property in the workplace, to vandalism and the violent abuse of women and children within the home, (Muncie, J. 1998). These are crimes more usually picked up in self-reports or victimisation studies conducted by the British Crime Study (BCS) and which can be said to illustrate something of the disparity existent between the official statistics and peoples life experience of crimes.
In 1982 and 1984, the BCS suggested that only about half of known crime is reported to the police. Since this is the case, and given the fact that very little is known about the bulk of criminal activity in Britain, the official crime statistics are far from representative of the reality of crime in Britain and so are of very little use in informing policy measures taken against it; although it could be argued that they may be of some use to certain politicians wishing to embark upon a law and order campaign.
It could also be argued that these statistics may be used to “point the finger” at certain sections of the populace for purely political reasons. Steven Box (1981), poses the powerful argument, for example, that criminal laws are little more than ideological constructions representing the interests of an influential ‘ruling elite’. Box argues that laws tend to focus on those victimizing behaviours that are considered more serious and given greater prominence in the public perception, as constituting the most serious of social problems and deserving of no less serious responses.
Crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and burglary are clearly reflected within the official crime statistics as perpetrated by predominantly young men of low socio-economic status. Amongst these, the uneducated, unemployed and ethnic minorities are over-represented and form the bulk of the prison population. This apparently tells us that particular sections of the populace are the most likely perpetrators of crime and criminal activity within society.
However, statistics such as these do not tell us that, as Box indicates, far more serious crimes and criminality occur on a regular basis yet go unnoticed. A large number of these offences are crimes committed by the rich and powerful, which are carried out on the relatively powerless; real people who suffer avoidable death and serious injury for want of the proper implementation of current health and safety regulations at work and elsewhere.
Criminal law also excludes from protection consumers who have been sold faulty products through the malpractices of manufacturers, or shareholders that incur losses resulting from the deliberate mismanagement of a company by its directors or senior management. (Box, 1981). Thus, the official criminal statistics would appear actually to hide the crimes of the more powerful, wealthy and privileged individuals within society whilst simultaneously serving to overemphasize and overstate those criminal activities of the weak.
This effectively distorts and renders unreliable the “official” picture of crime as portrayed by the state. In relation to our question, it would appear then that the official crime statistics are far from representative of the true extent and reality of crime in our society, and although the vast majority of people wish to be protected from the very real crimes featured in the official statistics, they are notoriously unreliable indicators of the incidence of crime or, indeed, of the types of crime being committed in contemporary Britain.
Therefore, the remainder of the question seems to be a fruitless pursuit unless we wish to advocate various conspiracy theories and speak in terms of the official crime statistics serving purposes such as controlling targeted sections of the populace by tracking their particular activities and informing the measures taken in combating these, whilst simultaneously serving to cover up the crimes of the rich and powerful elite and distract attention from their activities. In point of fact, that line of argument would result in the assertion that the official crime statistics actually serve to help maintain this particular, current, status quo.