Methods of Measuring Crime

Introduction

Crime may simply be defined as unlawful act liable to a judicial punishment. Criminal activities are committed by criminals in the society. However, some people commit criminal acts unknowingly while others perpetrate crime knowingly. The fear of crime in communities pushes government agencies to measure crime rates in public. There are different methods used for crime measurement. Crime measurement is one aspect that is most importantly considered by the experts as a tool to determine the levels of crime in the society. While measurement of crime has not attracted widespread attention, numerous great overviews are currently discussing the ideas revolving around measuring crime and sources of data alike, (King and Wincup, 2000). I will discuss the criminology matters that arise from the Mail Online Article “Crime rates Lowest for 20 years” whose link is http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-80465/Crime-rates-lowest-20-years.html

Victim Survey Method

The article above addresses the crime rate in England and Wales. The findings shown in the article reflects the fall in the rates of crimes for the past two decades. While there are more than methods of crime measurement, the type of method of crime measurement that has been employed in collecting the data presented in this article is Victim Survey Method. Survey was done by the government agencies by asking sampled groups of citizens about the crimes they have fallen victims. Record of crimes given did not originate from the police, (Groves, et. al., 2009). Adults in private households were interviewed leaving out children below the age of sixteen years. The sampling was effectively done with evenly distributed respondents throughout the countries.

Key Findings

The survey was carried out in Wales and England. The aim was to determine the rate of crime after approximately two decades. While overall findings of the survey show that there has been a drop in the crime rates in English and Wales, the key findings that support this claim are presented in this article. According to Smith (2010) the rate of criminal activities dropped by approximately twenty-two percent since 1997. Consequently, domestic burglary fell by 17%, violent crime by 19%, vehicle-oriented crime by 11%, and household-related thefts by sixteen percent. This is according to the research done by Vito Kunselman and Tewksbury (2008) which analyzed the information provided by a group of nine thousand people in Wales and England in 2000.

However, the statistics did not include the figures for the victims under the age of 16. In 1997, there were 39% of adult victims compared to the twenty-seven percent in 2000. Moreover, the majority were victims of vandalism or theft. According to a research done by Bulmer, et. al. (2010), there was a drop in crime by thirteen percent in the last two decades; however, a quarter of the people interviewed insisted that crime rates had risen in the preceding two years.
Advantages of Using Victim Survey Method to Measure Crime

The Victim Survey Method is very helpful to the sociologists. They depend on such information from the respondents. The information serves as an accurate picture of crime in the society. Some of the advantages of the Victim Survey include:

The statistics may unearth the statistics that may not be found from other methods of survey.
The statistics from the survey helps us comprehend the extent and nature of crime activity.
The information provides a better understanding of the offenders and offenses distribution. The trend of crime may be seen over time.
It serves as the barometer for a “nation’s moral heath.”
The statistics may be employed in many aspects of the public domain.
Consequently, the government may use the data to implement some of the security policies for a better society.
Disadvantages of Using Victim Survey Method to Measure Crime
There are several issues that are connected to Victim Survey Method. These issues include validity, representativeness, and relevance. The problem involved is whether the people sampled for interview tell the truth. As indicated by Kraska and Neuman (2008) in their book, many experts may over-express the prevalence of criminal activities. Whereas others may play-down, some interviewee may tell the truth about the crimes of which they have fallen victims. Most importantly, the respondents may fail to give the exact information about the crimes in which they got involved. Also, the memories of interviewee may be biased and incorrect. This leads to false information that may be biased and incorrect. A research done by Smyth and Carleton, (2011) indicates that most people may bare the fear of providing the information about such criminal activities thus considering these crimes as ‘victimless’. These kinds of crimes may entail smuggling and drug abuse which people may fail revealing due to fear of being incriminated by the authority or government agency. The violence against the family member that encompasses domestic violence is one of the crimes whose details are hard to find through the victim survey. Contrary, these kinds of crimes are included in the British Crime Survey. Sexual crimes are under-reported by the respondents irrespective of the survey being considered anonymous. Many of the people being interviewed may fail to provide the information concerning the sexual crimes they were once involved in. The fact that giving this information may make them face the law invokes the fear of revealing such details to the government agency. According to MacDonald (2011), the British Crime Survey does not gather information pertaining crimes from children under the age of sixteen. Hence, all forms of crimes vomited against juvenile or under-age children are not part of the statistics of crimes released by the British Crime Survey.

Some of the criminological issues discussed in this article entail how the public domain reacts to crime; the anti-crime effectiveness policies and crime victims. From Dalton and Appleby’s (2009) point of view, it is clear that crime rate has fallen in Wales and England since 1990s due to the effect of anti-crime policies implemented by the government. The people interviewed fall under the category of victims of a criminal act. The perpetrators of the crimes are referred as the criminals.

In conclusion, while the use of Victim Survey has been employed by British Crime Survey, the method may be having a lot of loopholes with regards to its disadvantages. However, it is a method that can produce information for the government to make policies concerning security in Wales and England. Considerably, statistics in the article above are substantial because of the precision in methods of collecting data.

References

Bulmer, M., Gibbs, J. and Hyman, L. (2010). Social measurement through social surveys. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.
Dalton, P. and Appleby, J. (2009). Outlaws in medieval and early modern England. Farnham, England: Ashgate.
Groves, R. M., Fowler, F. J., Couper, M., Lepkowski, J. M., Singer, E., & Tourangeau, R. (2009). Survey methodology. Hoboken, N.J., Wiley. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=819140
Gadd, D., Karstedt, S. and Messner, S. (2011). The SAGE Handbook of Criminological Research Methods. London: SAGE Publications.
King, R. and Wincup, E. (2000). Doing research on crime and justice. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kraska, P. and Neuman, W. (2008). Criminal justice and criminology research methods. Boston: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.
MacDonald, J. M. (2011). Measuring crime & criminality. New Brunswick, N.J., Transaction Publishers. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10535800.
Smith, D. (2010). A new response to youth crime. Cullompton, UK: Willan Pub.
Smyth, S. and Carleton, R. (2011). Measuring the extent of cyber-fraud in Canada. [Ottawa, Ont.]: Public Safety Canada.
Vito, G., Kunselman, J. and Tewksbury, R. (2008). Introduction to Criminal Justice Research Methods. Springfield: Charles C Thomas Publisher, LTD.