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WDW101Y1 Lecture Notes - Uniform Crime Reports, Homicide, Main Source

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Scot Wortley

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Lec 2 Sept/17 Measuring Crime and Criminal Justice
Individual crimes comes almost entirely from the media
Interest should be shown in the long-term trends (larger pattern) - we must focus on different
types of data
There is a feeling that crime is getting worse/increasing, and communities are more
Despite this, most people feel safe in their own communities; and crime is instead
only increasing “out there”
Belief that Toronto is Canada’s most dangerous city (the media blows up crimes that
occur in major cities)
o Political element to tragic situations Eg. police using the Danzig shooting to
get more funding
Measurement Strategies for Criminologists
Official Crime Data (UCR main source)
Survey Data
Court Data (court process)
Corrections Data (number/reasons people are being admitted to correctional facilities)
Field Work/Observation (qualitative; observing gangs)
Historical Analysis (history behind narcotics laws)
Content Analysis (document analysis: comparing current newspaper crime sections to
1970, how language has changed through past decades)
Case Studies (serial killers)
Two of the most used methods of crime measurement:
1. Official Data
Uniform Crime Reports (UCR data)
Interpol Statistics police statistics are collected from all nations to provide
international comparisons
Coroner’s Reports: very important for homicides
o Provided by WHO Data
o Homicide is the most accurate set of reported data around the world
UCR Data
Complied by Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) and reported by police at
end of month, and the CCJA reports the findings once every year
Graph 2011: most homicides are in Nunavut
o Every year homicides and crime rates are highest in west and northern
provinces, and lower in east/Ontario/Quebec
Graph 2010: major metro cities
o Thunder bay has the highest homicide rate in Ontario
*Homicide is more likely to take place in rural areas than urban b/c:
o 1. More gun availability
o 2. Rural areas have a greater male population (demographic impact)
Graph: long terms trends (1986-2010) includes ALL violent crimes
o Definition of a violent crime changes that’s why we have a spike in 2007
(crime of uttering threats enabled = increased crime rate caused by a change in
Graph: Violent rate excluding threats
o Shows affects if the law wasn’t changed in 2007 – decline in violent crime
rate would continue to decrease
Graph: 1961-2010
o Ontario has a lower crime rate than Canada as a whole
o 3 times more likely to be murdered in 1970s (most dangerous period in
Canadian history) than now
o * homicide rate last year was the lowest since 1962
Graph: International comparisons
o development influences homicides:
Eg. Columbia is harder to get into than Jamaica so the drug trade
prospers there
o Toronto is one of the safest cities in the world
o Many us cities have homicide rates that are higher than developing nations
Graph: self reported victimization
o Young people are most likely to be the victims and offenders of crime
o 60 years or older are more afraid of crime but least victimized
Graph: violent crimes 2003 most violent crimes are minor crimes (minor assault to
2. Unofficial Crime Data
Victimization surveys: gives independent estimates on level of crime in society
Self-report survey
Combined Victimization self-report surveys
Public Opinion Surveys: gives us attitudes towards criminal justice system
The most reported crime that victim report is: auto theft (b/c insurance will allow
them to be subsidized)
Strengths of surveys
o Can measure crimes that are not recorded by the police
o Can establish reporting rates and reasons for non-reporting
o Can provide detailed info on victims/offenders (lifestyle impact on
o Establishes the relationship between offender and victim
o Excellent for testing theories, and measuring fear of crime
Weakness of surveys
o Sampling issues: must be random, sample size, response rate
o Under reporting
o Over-reporting (telescoping) people talk about things in the past as if they
happened yesterday
In surveys may only ask what happened in last 12 months, not life:
which can distort the findings b/c people tend to ignore the time
o Questioning issues: people don’t understand what is being asked
Males have higher crime victimization rates, but women are more worried about being victims
Only 3% surveyed are actually involved in gangs others exaggerate