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Chapter Four: An Introduction to Alternative Data-Gathering and the Special Case of Uniform Crime Reports. Alternative Data-Gathering Strategies. The experiment as a method of data gathering is by no means the best strategy, despite its obvious strengths.

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Alternative data gathering strategies

Chapter Four: An Introduction to Alternative Data-Gathering and the Special Case of Uniform Crime Reports


Alternative data gathering strategies

Alternative Data-Gathering Strategies

  • The experiment as a method of data gathering is by no means the best strategy, despite its obvious strengths.

  • No all topics lend themselves to experiments.

  • Experiments have weaknesses that other data gathering strategies do not have.


Alternative data gathering strategies1

Alternative Data-Gathering Strategies

  • There are other types of data gathering strategies which have better external validity and are NOT characterized by their artificiality.

  • Examples of alternative data-gathering strategies: social surveys, participant observation, case studies, unobtrusive measures.


Social surveys

Social surveys

  • A means of data gathering in which a segment of the population reports their attitudes and/or behavior.

  • IE: (questionnaires, interviews, telephone contact)

  • Can be powerful tools for obtaining quantitative data for statistical analysis; Statistics can control for RCF’s


Participant observation

Participant Observation

  • Occurs when a researcher observes a group by participating, to varying degrees, in the activities of the group.

  • Favorite tool of anthropologists.

  • For some subjects participant observation may be the only visible data-gathering strategy.


Case studies

Case Studies

  • Case studies- In-depth analysis of one or a few cases.

  • Represent a commitment to a qualitative or sensitizing strategy.

  • Provide a micro-criminological or in-depth close-up of only a few subjects

  • IE: Edwin Sutherland’s The Professional Thief (1937), Clifford Shaw’s “Brothers in Crime”


Life histories

Life Histories

  • Generally involve the analysis of diaries, letters, biographies, and autobiographies.

  • IE: Clifford Shaw’s “The Jack-roller” (1930)

  • Oral histories are “recounts of events by participants.”


Unobtrusive measures

Unobtrusive Measures

  • Non-reactive methods of data gathering.

  • Any methods of gathering data in which the subjects are NOT aware of being analyzed.

  • IE: Analysis of existing data, UCR data, trace analysis

  • Usually an inexpensive alternative to data gathering.


The special case of uniform crime reports

The Special Case of Uniform Crime Reports

  • Traditionally the most widely used measure of crime in the United States.

  • Began in 1930 by U.S. Department of Justice.

  • Compilation of national crime statistics. Law enforcement agencies send statistics to DOJ.


The special case of uniform crime reports1

The Special Case of Uniform Crime Reports

  • The UCR comprises crimes known to, and recorded by, local police departments.

  • These statistics do not take into account the “dark figure of crime.”

  • In the 1980’s about 98% of metropolitan police agencies reported its crimes to the FBI.


The crime index

The Crime Index

  • The UCR is divided into Part 1 and Part 2 crimes.

  • Part 1 consists of index crimes which are MAJOR felonies reported to the police:

  • Murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson


The crime index1

The Crime Index

  • Part 2 crimes are non-index crimes:

  • Includes minor offenses, such as, simple assault, vandalism, gambling, and drunkenness

  • The FBI can not vouch for the validity of reports, but it examines them for accuracy, eliminates and makes special inquiries for crass errors


Crime rate

Crime Rate

  • The crime rate is expressed as the number of crimes per unit of population size.

  • Permits a fair comparison of different size units.

  • Crime rate = # of index crimes X 100.000

    Population


Calculating the crime rate

Calculating the Crime Rate

  • This is very important. Newspapers are sold and jobs are won and lost depending on what the crime rate is.

  • Question: If the City of Houston has a population of 4,900,000 with 506 homicides a year. How would you calculate the homicide rate?


Limitations of ucr data

Limitations of UCR Data

  • Recorded statistics represent only a portion of the true crime rate. (Probably 2x as much).

  • Citizens’ tendency to report crime may change because of a general change in public morality(barroom brawls)


Limitations of ucr data1

Limitations of UCR Data

  • Most victimless crimes and white collar crimes are not contained in the UCR

  • Changes in a police department’s statistical tabulating process may affect how the crime rate is recorded.

  • Political pressure to lie.


Limitations of ucr data2

Limitations of UCR Data

  • Hierarchy rule - Only the most serious crime is reported in any single incident.

  • The crime index is an un-weighted index - all crimes count the same; IE: A murder counts the same as a bicycle theft.


Limitations of ucr data3

Limitations of UCR Data

  • Crime index may cause police agencies to concentrate on these crimes at the expense of other crimes.

  • Larceny and arson should not be included as an index crime.

  • In cases of arson it can be hard to tell whether or not intentional.


Crime dip

Crime dip

  • Stabilization or decline in crime.

  • Demographic shifts may provide some explanation for rapidly rising or falling crime rates.

  • Criminologists using UCR data were able to forecast the crime dip in the 1980’s.


Ucr redesign

UCR Redesign

  • Beginning in 1977, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriffs Association called for a major redesign of the UCR system

  • Today the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) is replacing the UCR.


National incident based reporting system

National Incident-Based Reporting System

  • NIBRS uses fifty-two data elements to describe: victims, offenders, offenders, and circumstances of crimes.

  • 1st overhaul of UCR in 50 yrs

  • NIBRS includes many different types of crimes, such as, bribery, pornography, fraud, and non-forcible sex offenses.


National incident based reporting system1

National Incident-Based Reporting System

  • NIBRS will eventually replace the UCR as the official source of crimes reported to law enforcement agencies.

  • Represents a new way of thinking about crime.

  • Illustrates close partnership among BJS, FBI, and over 17,000 law enforcement agencies


Nibrs versus ucr

NIBRS versus UCR

  • 1.) Incident-Based v. Summary Reporting: NIBRS reports include fifty-two data elements describing victims, offenders, and circumstances of the crime.

  • 2.) NIBRS includes more possible types of crimes: UCR has 8 Part I Crimes, NIBRS has 46 Group A


Nibrs versus ucr1

NIBRS versus UCR

  • 3.) NIBRS, unlike UCR, makes a distinction between attempted and completed crimes.

  • 4.) Elimination of the “hierarchy rule” (under UCR). Cites all offenses within the same incident.

  • 5.) Designation of “Computer Crimes”


Nibrs versus ucr2

NIBRS versus UCR

  • 6.) Better statistical analysis: Greater opportunities for examining interrelationships between many variables such as offenses, property, victims, offenders, and arrestees.

  • 7.) NIBRS includes “Crimes Against Society” - ie: prostitution, drug offenses, gambling, pornography.


Nibrs versus ucr3

NIBRS versus UCR

  • 8.) Greater specificity of data: Because NIBRS collects more specific information, which can lead to better criminal profiling. IE: NIBRS tells a researcher whether or not drugs/alcohol were involved; injuries sustained; types of weapons; relationship between victim and offender; location. A plethora of information.


Interpol united nations world health organizations

Interpol, United Nations, World Health Organizations

  • The above organizations represent an international effort with respect to crime statistics.

  • IE: Interpol puts out its crime statistics.

  • This type of data may give insight into crimes in other countries and provide a basis for comparison.


Interpol united nations world health organizations1

Interpol, United Nations, World Health Organizations

  • CAUTION: Some of the same problems in analyzing international data are the same as those affecting the UCR.

  • Problems: Varying definitions of crime across countries, differences in law, differences in recording practices, different urban/rural, economic structures, political factors


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