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Methods of Measuring Crime. Uniform Crime Reports. Self- Report Surveys. Victim Surveys. Based on Crimes Reported to the Police. Based on a population unit of 100,000 people. Divided into two representative categories: Indexed and non-Indexed. Reported for U.S., Cities, and SMSA’s.

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methods of measuring crime
Methods of Measuring Crime

Uniform Crime Reports

Self- Report Surveys

Victim Surveys

uniform crime reports

Based on Crimes Reported to the Police

Based on a population unit of 100,000 people

Divided into two representative

categories: Indexed and non-Indexed

Reported for U.S., Cities, and SMSA’s

Crimes known / Arrest = Clearance Rate

Uniform Crime Reports
uniform crime reports3
Part I “Index” Crimes

Criminal Homicide

Forcible Rape


Aggravated assault



Motor vehicle theft


Part II Crimes

All others except traffic





Uniform Crime Reports
criticisms and limitations of the ucr

Cannot capture the “dark figure” of crime

Methodological Hiccups

Criticisms and Limitations of the UCR
  • Counting Rule
  • Reporting Practices
  • Attempted vs. Completed Crimes
the future of the uniform crime reports
The Future of the Uniform Crime Reports
  • National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
  • Maintained by the F.B.I.
  • Twenty-two crime categories
  • More information on each crime in each category
  • Data compiled based on incidents, not arrests.

Self-Report Surveys

  • Participants (usually juveniles) reveal information about their violations of the law


    • Get at “Dark Figure of Crime”
    • “Victimless Crimes”
    • Compare to “official data”
    • Measure theoretical concepts and connect with criminal behavior
self report surveys
Self-Report Surveys
  • Disadvantages
    • May underestimate “chronic offenders”
    • People Can Lie
    • Survey Methodology Problems
      • Seriousness of Offense

National Crime



1. Asks victims about their encounters with criminals

2. Nationally representative sample

3. May also describe people most at risk 4. Limitations:

Little information about offenders

Cannot assess some crimes

Limitations of Survey Research

  • UCR
    • Aggregate Data, Crimes known to police
  • Self-report
    • Individual level data, links offender characteristics to criminal offending
  • NCVS
    • Aggregate Data, victimizations
crime trends and correlates of crime
Crime Trends and Correlates of Crime
  • Crime Trends
    • Is crime increasing, decreasing or stable?
    • Why?
  • Correlates of Crime
    • What factors are related to crime?
    • Geographic location, Age, Race, Gender, Social Class?
crime trends
Crime Trends
  • UCR and NCVS data reveal a recent steady decrease in violent crime.
    • The decrease is being driven by a sharp decline in violent crime among juveniles.
  • NCVS indicates a long term trend of decreasing property crime
explaining crime trends
Age Composition

The Economy

Social malaise


Justice Policy—Police or Prisons?

Explaining Crime Trends
social class and crime
Social Class and Crime
  • Official statistics reveal a strong class-crime relationship.
    • Lower Social Class more crime prone?
    • Criminal Justice System bias against the lower class? (More likely to arrest/prosecute?)
gender and crime
  • UCR, NCVS, and SR data all indicate that females are more likely than males to commit criminal acts
    • Chivalry hypothesis?
    • Socialization?
    • Biological differences?
    • Feminist explanations
race and crime
  • Similar dilemma as social class
      • SRweak if any relationship
      • Officialstrong relationship
      • BUT, NCVS data!
  • Is relationship due to bias?
      • How police patrol and interact with minorities
      • Disparity in how CJS processes minorities?
  • If relationship is “true,” why?
      • Relationship to class, neighborhood, culture.
age and crime

Problems with the age crime curve:

Arrests only

Aggregate data

longitudinal birth cohort research
Longitudinal Birth Cohort Research

Research that tracks an identifiable

group of individuals over a long period

of time.

the chronic 6
The “Chronic 6%”

After following a birth cohort of 9,945 boys

born in Philadelphia in 1945, Wolfgang and

his associates found that 6% of the total sample

were responsible for 51.9% of all offenses.

These were referred to as chronic offendersor

career criminals. Similar research has resulted

in similar findings.

continuity of crime
Continuity of Crime

The cohort follow-ups clearly show that

most chronic juvenile offenders continue

their law-violating careers as adults.

Then and ………….. NOW

implications of continuity
Implications of Continuity

If the “Onset” of offending occurs in childhood for some kids, you must start your explanation at that point.

Why do some kids begin their offending in adolescence?