Measuring crime rates differently Criminology By serial respondents in England and Wales about their personal experiences of crime over the previous 12 months. It is therefore sometimes referred to as a visitation survey. Respondents provide answers to a set of questions, the individual details of which are confidential, which means they cannot be passed on to other organizations, for example, the police. The British Crime Survey is considered by many experts to be more comprehensive and consistent than the police figures and thus a better indicator of the true level of crime in England and Wales.
For the offences it covers, and the victims within its scope, the BCC gives a more complete estimate of crime in England and Wales since it covers both unreported and unrecorded crime and provides more reliable data on trends. ” (Simmons and Dodd, Home Office Statistical Bulletin, 2003, p. L) “The BCC measures the amount of crime in England and Wales by asking people about crimes they have experienced in the last year. The BCC includes crimes which are not reported to the police, so it is an important alternative to police records. Victims do not report crime for various reasons.
Without the BCC the government would have no information on these unreported crimes. ” (Home Office web site, The British Crime Survey) Remember, the British Crime Survey asks adult respondents whether they themselves have been a victim of crime in the last 12 months. However, not all crimes are recorded. Box 2. 1 sets out what are and what are not counted. Comparing the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime To compare BCC and police recorded crime figures it is necessary to limit both to a set of offences that are covered by both series, the comparable subset.
This is cause: The BCC excludes so-called victimless crimes (e. G. Drug dealing), crimes such as murder, where a victim is no longer available for interview and fraud. BCC estimates also exclude sexual offences (due to the small number reported to the survey and concerns about willingness of respondents to disclose such offences). BCC thefts involving household and personal property also cannot be compared because while they might be included in police figures they would fall into a miscellaneous category of thefts, which will also include thefts of business property, shoplifting and other crimes.
The Glossary gives definitions of the various offence categories, and highlights those where comparisons can be made. In 1998/99 there were changes to the police counting rules and extensions to the offences covered that influenced comparisons (e. G. Common assault only became a police recorded crime in 1998/99 and so is not in the comparable subset for longer-term comparisons). The BCC does not cover offences against non-domestic targets (e. G. Businesses), those living in institutions and those under 16.
Full details of the adjustments are posted at: http://www. Homophone. Gob. UK/rods/BPCS . HTML The latest BCC figures published here relate to interviews conducted throughout 2002/03, with a recall period for crime incidents in the 12 months preceding the interview. Averaging over this moving recall period generates estimates that are most closely comparable with police recorded crime figures for the 12 months up to the end of September 2002, about six months behind the recorded crime figures for 2002/03 in this volume.
There are some more general points to note in making comparisons between the two series: The police have recorded crime figures since 1857 and the BCC started in 1982. The BCC measures both reported and unreported crime. As such the BCC provides a measure of trends in crime that is not affected by changes in public reporting to the police or police recording. BCC measures are based on estimates from a sample of the population. The estimates are therefore subject to sampling error, though the move too larger annual sample from 2001 has reduced sampling variation.
Police recorded crime provides data at the level of 43 police force areas and for their Basic Command Units (as well as Local Authorities). The BCC can now provide limited information at the police force area level, but not for smaller geographical units. Simmons and Dodd, Home Office Statistical Bulletin, 2003, p. 10 Box 2. 1 : Comparison of BCC and Police crime IQ Read the extract in Box 2. 1, and tick whether or not these crimes are recorded by the BCC. A. Burglary Yes No b. Murder (Explanation: The victim cannot report the crime) c. Robbery (e. G. Mugging) d.
Rape and other sexual offences (Explanation: Individuals are unlikely to volunteer this information) Yes e. Thefts f. Vandalism g. Crimes against business (e. G shoplifting and fraud) (Explanation: This crime is not omitted against an individual, but against a corporation) Yes h. Crimes committed against individuals under 16 years of age (Explanation: BCC only surveys adults) Yes I. Drug Dealing (Explanation: A purportedly victimless crime) Yes SECTION a: Trends came 1981-2003 The graph in Figure 2. 2 sets out the number of crimes reported in the BCC.
Source: Simmons and Dodd, Home Office Statistical Bulletin, 2003, p. 27 Source: British Crime Survey Let us contrast these with the figures that we saw in Module 1 which were crimes recorded by the police over the same period, which are set out again in Figure 2. 1 . Comparing the two graphs, answer the following multiple choice questions Q In 1981, how many more crimes were recorded by the British Crime Survey than by the Police figures? A none B 8 million C 3 million D 11 million Chat was the proportion of crime recorded by the British Crime Survey compared to the police figures in 1991?
A about 10 percent B about a quarter C about a third D about a half Colloq at the trends shown in the BCC and in the Recorded Crime figures. Are they: A. Broadly similar? B. Significantly different? What do you think? What might be the main reasons for the difference between the BCC and Recorded Crime Figures? SECTION C: perceptions Of came Rates Version 1: Moral panic that ‘In spite of the significant falls in the main volume crimes in recent years, almost three-quarters of the public still believe that the national crime rate has been rising’. (Introduction).
Source : Simmons and Dodd, 2003 This statement involves two claims: 1. The level of crime has indeed been falling 2. The public hold mistaken views about crime levels. This module will use data to examine these claims. However, it will also be seen that the use of data cannot be separated from theories and concepts about how crime effects society; data analysis is not ‘neutral’ in this sense. Let’s begin by returning to figure 2. 1, which shows the trend of crime as reported in the British Crime Survey. This has dropped for the last two years of measurement.
Now compare this with the data in figure 2. 3, which shows the beliefs respondents had about the change in crime: 73 per cent thought crime had increased, with 38 per cent thinking it had increased a lot. Source: Simmons and Dodd, 2003 It would seem that there is a clear discrepancy between the public perception of crime rates and the trends in actual crime. However, the picture is actually far from clear-cut. Figures 2. AAA and 2. B compare time indices of worry about theft to the levels of crime as reported in the British Crime Survey.
To create a time index: pick a base year call this value 100 compare all other years to this year This helps in comparing different trends with each other Q In figure 2. AAA, what is the change in the index numbers of concern about burglary in the British Crime Survey between the years 2002-3 and 2001-2? A zero Quinn figure 2. B, what was the change between 2002-3 and 2001-2 in the index of the umber of burglaries as reported in the British Crime Survey? A Zero Is there much difference in the two trends?
What does this answer tell you about the association between crime change and changes in the concern about crime? If there is a difference between the perceptions of the public and the actual change in crime then we may well ask why. A common answer is to do with the media. ‘Do tabloids feed on crime fear? BBC News web site, 17 July 2003 news. BBC. Co. UK/l /hi/UK/3074411 . SST http:// ‘Missing the chance of a good scary headline really would be a crime’, The Independent, 22 July 2003 It is often said that the media exaggerate the level of crime to make better stories and boost circulation.
The Home Office report cross-tabulates the fear of individual crimes against newspaper readership. As can be seen from figure 2. 5, of the people in the survey very worried about all the forms of crime, the numbers who read tabloid newspapers were about double those who read broadsheet newspapers. Source: adapted from Simmons and Dodd (des. ), Home Office Statistical Bulletin, 2003 This table suggests that there is a correlation between readership of tabloid swappers and perception of crime rates.
Do you think it is a causal relationship (reading tabloids causes people to perceive more crime than there actually is)? If newspaper choice does not cause fear of crime, why should newspaper choice be correlated or associated with fear of crime? Q Why might tabloid readers fear crime more than readers of broadsheet newspapers? In two paragraphs discuss other factors that may impact on people’s fear of crime (e. G. Age) Fletcher and Allen 4 list a number of factors they believe affect the fear of crime: gender health age locality previous visitation perception of disorder
It is possible that some of these also affect choice of newspaper. These are known as prior variables. So, for example, age could affect both choice of newspaper and fear of crimes. What are the main factors influencing the fear of crime? Version 2: Class differences striking resemblance to the concept of ‘moral panic’. This concept was developed by the sociologist Stanley Cohen, originally to describe what he called the ‘amplification’ of the perception of disorder between the ‘Moods’ and ‘Rockers’ in the assess.
Panties and Gordon suggest that the reason for the apparent discrepancy between fear of crime and its risk is that crime has a larger effect on poor people. They point to the apparent effects of insurance on the fear of crime. In figure 2. 8, what is the difference between the percentage of people who Gila experienced crime and had insurance and those who were uninsured. A None B 3 per cent C 14 per cent D 15 per cent Gill In figure. 2. 8, what is the difference between the percentage of people who felt unsafe about crime and had insurance and those who were uninsured? A None C 16 per cent The difference between the levels of crime experienced by the insured and the uninsured was only 3 per cent, but the difference between those who report they feel unsafe is much higher.
Panties and Gordon suggest that what counts is the differing effect of household crime on lower income households, which are more likely to be So we now have two views about the perception of crime: 1 . Crime is falling, but people are misled by the tabloids into thinking it is going up; 2. Crime makes a bigger difference to poor people than rich people, so it is hardly surprising that they are more worried about it. Which – if either – of the two views do you think is right? What data could you use to back up your opinion? It would seem that social data analysis is never completely value neutral but actually requires a theory to allow for investigation.
For example, there may be many social factors that affect an individual’s experience of crime. In later modules you will find UT how to investigate such theories and hypotheses yourself. SUMMARY Data analysis cannot be separated from theory Different theories will lead to different questions being asked In this module we compared two approaches to perceptions of crime, the ‘moral panic’ approach and a class-based approach. Both used different analysis of the same data to back up their viewpoint. NEXT UP…. You may have trouble deciding which, if any, of the approaches you think is correct. In the next modules you will find out how you can investigate data yourself and test out your own theories.