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Crime statistics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There are several methods for the measuring of crime. Public surveys are occasionally conducted to estimate the amount of crime that has not been reported to police. Such surveys are usually more reliable for assessing trends. However, they also have their limitations and generally don't procure statistics useful for local crime prevention, often ignore offenses against children and do not count offenders brought before the criminal justice system.

Law enforcement agencies in some countries offer compilations of statistics for various types of crime.

Two major methods for collecting crime data are law enforcement reports, which only reflect crimes that are reported, recorded, and not subsequently canceled; and victim study (victimization statistical surveys), which rely on individual memory and honesty. For less frequent crimes such as intentional homicide and armed robbery, reported incidences are generally more reliable, but suffer from under-recording; for example, no criming in the United Kingdom sees over one third of reported violent crimes being not recorded by the police.[1] Because laws and practices vary between jurisdictions, comparing crime statistics between and even within countries can be difficult: typically only violent deaths (homicide or manslaughter) can reliably be compared, due to consistent and high reporting and relative clear definition.

The U.S. has two major data collection programs, the Uniform Crime Reports from the FBI and the National Crime Victimization Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. However, the U.S. has no comprehensive infrastructure to monitor crime trends and report the information to related parties such as law enforcement.[2]

Research using a series of victim surveys in 18 countries of the European Union, funded by the European Commission, has reported (2005) that the level of crime in Europe has fallen back to the levels of 1990, and notes that levels of common crime have shown declining trends in the U.S., Canada, Australia and other industrialized countries as well. The European researchers say a general consensus identifies demographic change as the leading cause for this international trend. Although homicide and robbery rates rose in the U.S. in the 1980s, by the end of the century they had declined by 40%.[2]

However, the European research suggests that "increased use of crime prevention measures may indeed be the common factor behind the near universal decrease in overall levels of crime in the Western world", since decreases have been most pronounced in property crime and less so, if at all, in contact crimes.[3][4][5]

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  • ✪ Why Can't Anyone Agree On The Crime Rate?
  • ✪ USA FBI Crime Statistics: Arrests by Race in 2015


(high-pitched electronic tones) - Crime dips to historic lows. (bell rings) Grisly murders skyrocketing. (scary orchestral hit echoes) America enters golden age of safety. (bell rings) You're going to die, (groans) c'mon. (dramatic orchestral music) Look, last year's presidential election was bewildering for everyone involved, but if you followed the news, you might have come away a little confused about one issue in particular. (static blaring) - Crime has continued to drop, including murders, so-- - You're wrong, you're wrong. - There is, no, I'm not. - Murders are up. (static blaring) - Thankfully, election season is behind us, but this question about the crime rate, it's not going anywhere, in fact, if you do a quick Google search for news about crime, you get headlines that are just as contradictory. So what's the deal? Is violent crime up or down? And why can't anyone agree? Do we even keep track of this stuff? Well first of all, yeah, we do. The FBI has been collecting crime statistics from law enforcement agencies since 1930 and every year they put out a document called Crime in the United States. It's like a Bible for crime stats, and it's used by anyone reporting on these issues. So if reporters are using the same source, how are they getting totally different answers? Well, the key here is that what's up with the crime rate is a very simple question with a very complicated answer. You can break down crime stats by time period, place, percentage of population, and each of those filters will give you a different answer. Take the murder rate, if you look at the last couple decades you can see that the murder rate in the US has been declining pretty steadily since the mid 90s with little bumps along the way. And if you're thinking, wait, what's your source for that chart, well, A, way to be a savvy media consumer, and B, we literally downloaded the FBI's raw data and plugged it into Excel. (group clapping) Ta-da, anyway, the murder rate is way down since the early 90s, like, cut in half way down. But remember all those little bumps along the way? We're in the middle of one right now. According to the FBI, there were 10% more murders in 2015 than in the year before, and that upward trend appeared to continue last year too. So it is correct to say both murder was at historic lows in 2015 and murders rose 10% in 2015. You just have to keep this chart in mind. That 10% spike is troubling, especially if you live in a city like Chicago where a sharp increase in murders is helping drive up the national average. But even with cities like Chicago in the mix, the murder rate is still lower than 10, 20, or even 30 years ago, in other words, it comes down to which data sets you're comparing. Criminologists argue that a one or two-year change in crime is not nearly long enough to determine a meaningful trend. But, tell that to the news media. Last year, the New York Times announced that homicides had doubled in Las Vegas even though they were only comparing murders in the first quarter of 2016 to the first quarter of 2015. That's a tiny time period to evaluate. Look, the point here is that asking, has crime gone up or down is a little like asking are humans happier? Which humans, where, compared to when? It's just too broad a question, and you have to dig into the data to really learn anything. Unfortunately, most Americans haven't gotten that memo. According to national opinion pollster Gallup, for the past 25 years Americans have mostly thought of violent crime as rising. Even though, again, basically, the opposite is true. So what's going on here? Well, as with many other things, it may come down to brain wiring. Psychology studies dating back to the 1960s have pointed to a mere exposure effect showing that repeated exposure to information makes you like it more. Now pair that with the news media's obsession with crime stories, and you might end up with a pretty dark view of safety in America. And true to form, a number of studies have shown very convincing links between consuming news media and fear of crime regardless of actual crime rates. (machine gun shots resounding) (man screaming) - Gosh. - Now pair that with the fact that for all our statistics and criminologists, no one really knows what caused the great crime drop. In the end, a bunch of stats and uncertainty just might not be a match for good old-fashioned fear-mongering. So here's a question, if murders were up 10% in 2015, but also at 30-year lows, how do you write a headline that's not misleading in either direction? Why don't you give it a shot. Give us your best and most fair headline in the comments below, and make sure to subscribe. (upbeat easy listening music)


Counting rules

Relatively few standards exist and none that permit international comparability beyond a very limited range of offences. However, many jurisdictions accept the following:

  • There must be a prima facie case that an offence has been committed before it is recorded. That is either police find evidence of an offence or receive a believable allegation of an offense being committed. Some jurisdictions count offending only when certain processes happen, such as an arrest is made, ticket issued, charges laid in Court or only upon securing a conviction.
  • Multiple reports of the same offence usually count as one offence. Some jurisdictions count each report separately, others count each victim of offending separately.
  • Where several offences are committed at the same time, in one act of offending, only the most serious offense is counted. Some jurisdictions record and count each and every offense separately, others count cases, or offenders, that can be prosecuted.
  • Where multiple offenders are involved in the same act of offending only one act is counted when counting offenses but each offender is counted when apprehended.
  • Offending is counted at the time it comes to the attention of a law enforcement officer. Some jurisdictions record and count offending at the time it occurs.
  • As "only causing pain" is counted as assault in some countries, it let higher assault rates except in Austria, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden. But there are exceptions, like Czech Republic and Latvia. France was the contrasting exception having a high assault ration without counting minor assaults.[6]

Offending that is a breach of the law but for which no punishment exists is often not counted. For example: Suicide, which is technically illegal in most countries, may not be counted as a crime, although attempted suicide and assisting suicide are.

Also traffic offending and other minor offending that might be dealt with by using fines, rather than imprisonment, is often not counted as crime. However separate statistics may be kept for this sort of offending.


Because of the difficulties in quantifying how much crime actually occurs, researchers generally take two approaches to gathering statistics about crime.

However, as officers can only record crime that comes to their attention and might not record a matter as a crime if the matter is considered minor and is not perceived as a crime by the officer concerned.

For example, when faced with a domestic violence dispute between a couple, a law enforcement officer may decide it is far less trouble to arrest the male party to the dispute, because the female may have children to care for, despite both parties being equally culpable for the dispute. This sort of pragmatic decisionmaking asked if they are victims of crime, without needing to provide any supporting evidence. In these surveys it is the participant's perception, or opinion, that a crime occurred, or even their understanding about what constitutes a crime that is being measured.

As a consequence differing methodologies may make comparisons with other surveys difficult.

One way in which, while other types of crime are under reported. These surveys also give insights as to why crime is reported, or not. The surveys show that the need to make an insurance claim, seek medical assistance, and the seriousness of an offence tend to increase the level of reporting, while the inconvenience of reporting, the involvement of intimate partners and the nature of the offending tend to decrease reporting.

This allows degrees of confidence to be assigned to various crime statistics. For example: Motor vehicle thefts are generally well reported because the victim may need to make the report for an insurance claim, while domestic violence, domestic child abuse and sexual offences are frequently significantly under-reported because of the intimate relationships involved, embarrassment and other factors that make it difficult for the victim to make a report.

Attempts to use victimisation surveys from different countries for international comparison had failed in the past. A standardised survey project called the International Crime Victims Survey[7] Results from this project have been briefly discussed earlier in this article.


While most jurisdictions could probably agree about what constitutes a murder, what constitutes a homicide may be more problematic, while a crime against the person could vary widely. Legislation differences often means the ingredients of offences vary between jurisdictions.

The International Crime victims Survey has been done in over 70 countries to date and has become the 'de facto' standard for defining common crimes. Complete list of countries[8] participating and the 11 defined crimes[9] can be found at the project web site.[10]


More complex measures involve measuring the numbers of discrete victims and offenders as well as repeat victimisation rates and recidivism. Repeat victimisation involves measuring how often the same victim is subjected to a repeat occurrence of an offence, often by the same offender. Repetition rate measures are often used to assess the effectiveness of interventions.

See also


  1. ^ Victims let down by poor crime-recording Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "Understanding Crime Trends: Workshop Report". Committee on Understanding Crime Trends, U.S. National Research Council. National Academies Press. 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-02-19.
  3. ^ Van Dijk, J. J. M., van Kesteren, J. N. & Smit, P. (2008). Criminal Victimisation in International Perspective, Key findings from the 2004-2005 ICVS and EU ICS (PDF). The Hague: Boom Legal Publishers. pp. 99–104. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 20, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Van Dijk, J. J. M.; Manchin, R.; Van Kesteren, J.; Nevala, S.; Hideg, G. (2005). The Burden of Crime in the EU. Research Report: A Comparative Analysis of the European Crime and Safety Survey (EU ICS) 2005 (PDF). pp. 21–23. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2007. Retrieved May 5, 2008.
  5. ^ Kesteren, J. n. van; Mayhew, P.; Nieuwbeerta, P. (2000). "Criminal victimization in seventeen industrialized countries: key findings from the 2000 International Crime Victims Survey". pp. 98–99. Retrieved April 12, 2007.[dead link]
  6. ^ European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics – 2010 Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, fourth edition, p30.
  7. ^ "The 5th round of International Crime Victims Surveys". Archived from the original on 2013-02-01.
  8. ^ UNCRI ICVS participating countries Archived April 18, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ UNCRI ICVS overview Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "ICVS website". Archived from the original on 2016-03-14.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 26 January 2019, at 00:45
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