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CRIM 101 - Lecture #3

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Simon Fraser University
CRIM 101
Adrienne Peters

WEEK 3: Researching Criminal Events September 21, 2012 Approaches  Direct observation o Not efficient research method o Criminal events occur w/ relative infrequency o Criminals spend a lot of time doing non-criminal activities o Criminals secretive in nature o Try to avoid observation or detection o Researchers may end up being victims (hang out in high crime areas) o Or be seen by offenders  Experimental observations o “informed consent” – subjects may refuse or alter behavior o Encourage subjects to break law – breaking law yourself  Police reports o Wide variations in reporting practices across the country o Professionalism and degree of organization of particular police department may be a factor o Crime funnel (see textbook)*** o Canada’s policy on collection of race-crime information o Criminologists look at the General Social Actual Level of Crime Survey  Victimization surveys Detected Crime  Offender reports & self-report surveys Reported Crime Arrests o Like the GSS, usually conducted over phone Convictions o Ask whether people have ever Non-custodial committed a criminal act o Confirm that large amount of undetected Custodial or unreported crime Problems  Offenders who have most to hide are least likely to participate  Tend to uncover petty crime  Over-reporting ***The Crime Funnel  Describes attrition rate as reported crimes make their way through the CJS  For most crimes known to police – no arrests made  Arrests usually doesn’t lead to trial or guilty plea *The General Social Survey  Victimization survey that interviews people by telephone (random-digit dialing)  2009, sample 19 000+ ppl age of 15+ in Canada  Asked about their victimization experiences, and their perception of crime and the criminal justice system  GSS instrumental in revealing the “dark figure of crime” (around 2/3 of all crimes)  Contrast to UCR because UCR only includes cases where people report crimes to police and/or police feel the complaint justifies writing up a report Problems  Interviews only those respondents who have a telephone  Marginalized people with no phone being excluded from survey
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