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The Nature and Extent of Crime. Crime Data. Surveys and official records are the primary source of crime date Different techniques are used by criminologist to measure the nature and extent of criminal behavior in addition to personality, attitudes, and background of offenders.

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crime data
Crime Data
  • Surveys and official records are the primary source of crime date
  • Different techniques are used by criminologist to measure the nature and extent of criminal behavior in addition to personality, attitudes, and background of offenders
primary sources of crime data
Primary Sources of Crime Data
  • Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)
  • National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
  • Survey research
  • National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
  • Self-report surveys
uniform crime reports ucr
Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)
  • A large database compiled by the FBI of crimes reported and arrests made each year throughout the U.S.
  • Accuracy is somewhat suspect as research indicates less than half of all crime victims report incidents to police
  • FBI publishes reported offenses by city, county, metropolitan area, and geographical divisions of the U.S. for the most serious crimes (Part I crimes) see page 25
  • The UCR also includes data characteristics of the arrested indivduals (age, race, gender)
compiling the ucr
Compiling the UCR
  • Complex methods
  • Agencies report number of Part I (Index) crimes
    • Reported by victims
    • Officer discovery
    • Other sources
  • If further investigation finds false claims, data is eliminated from count
  • Still reported to the FBI if no one is arrested
  • Cleared crimes reported
    • Arrest, charge, or turned over to courts for prosecution
    • Exceptional means (beyond police control – leaves country)
ucr validity
UCR Validity
  • Less than half of crime victims report crimes
  • What are some reasons a victim might not report a crime?
    • Private matter
    • Not important
    • Their own fault
    • Don’t trust the police
    • Retaliation
    • Insurance
  • Agency error
    • Define crime loosely
    • Assault, but reported attempted rape
  • Methodology
    • If there are multiple crimes in one incident the most serious is the one recorded
national incident based reporting system nibrs
National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
  • A program that began in 1982 that requires local police agencies to provide a brief account of each incident and arrest, including incident, victim, and offender information
  • Has expanded crime categories
  • Includes federal crimes
  • Includes hate crimes
  • Once it is adopted across the nation

it should improve the accuracy of official crime data

survey research
Survey Research
  • A survey that asks people about their attitudes, beliefs, values, characteristics, and experiences with crime and victimization
  • Includes sampling the population
national crime victimization survey ncvs
National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)
  • The UCR cannot measure ALL crimes since many victims don’t report the crimes – as a result the fed. gov. sponsored NCVS
  • The federal government sponsors this comprehensive, nationwide survey of victims about their experiences with law violation
  • Victims seem to report only crimes that have considerable loss or injury
  • NCVS may also have methodology problems
    • Overreporting – lost wallet reported stolen
    • Underreporting – fear of embarrassment or trouble – or forgetting
    • Inability to record – inability to record personal criminal activity
    • Sampling errors – not a good representation
    • Inadequate question format – produce responses
self report surveys
Self-Report Surveys
  • A research approach that asks subjects to describe, in detail, their recent and lifetime participation in criminal activity
  • Most focus on juvenile delinquency and youth crimes
  • Critics say that people are not likely to openly admit illegal acts
  • Some people might exaggerate their activities
evaluating crime data
Evaluating Crime Data
  • Each source of crime data has strengths and weaknesses
  • All sources record similar trends regarding personal characteristics of serious offenders, and when and where the crime occurs
  • Sources are reliable indicators of changes and fluctuations in yearly crime rates
trends in violent crime
Trends in Violent Crime
  • Violent crimes include murder, rape, assault, and robbery
  • Between 1995 and 2005, violence in the U.S. decreased more than 20%
  • Between 2004 and 2005, murder, assault, and robbery increased, though are still much lower than in the past
trends in property crime
Trends in Property Crime
  • Property crimes include larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson
  • Between 1995 and 2005, the total number of property crimes declined about 15%, and the property crime rate declined almost 25%
trends in victimization data
Trends in Victimization Data
  • Reported victimizations have declined significantly during the past 30 years
  • Between 1993 and 2004, both the violent crime victimization rate and the property crime victimization rate decreased approximately 50%
explaining crime trends
Explaining Crime Trends

Crime experts have identified a number of social, economic, personal, and demographic factors that influence crime rate trends:

  • age
  • economy/job
  • social malaise
  • abortion
  • guns
  • gangs
  • drug use
  • media
  • justice policy
crime patterns
Crime Patterns
  • Most reported crimes occur during July and August
  • Large urban areas have the highest violence rates
  • Western and Southern states have higher crime rates than the Midwest and Northeast
  • Age is inversely related to criminality (one increases the other decreases)
  • Male crime rates are much higher than those of females
chronic offenders
Chronic Offenders
  • Data shows that most offenders commit a single criminal act, and on arrest, discontinue their criminal involvement
  • A small group of offenders, called chronic offenders or career criminals, are responsible for a majority of all criminal offenses
  • Punishment is inversely related to chronic offending
in class activities
In Class Activities
  • Would you answer honestly if you were involved in a national crime survey about your own behavior? Why or why not? Based on the class responses what do you think about the survey accuracy?
  • Explain gender differences in crime rates?
  • What social and environmental factors influence crime rates in your opinion?
  • Do you think a national emergency would increase or decrease crime rates?
  • Campus crime rates map.
  • Create a crime survey and go interview a sample population