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Chapter 5

CRIM 210 Chapter 3: Crim 210 – Chapter 3 Notes David Macalister


Department
Criminology
Course Code
CRIM 210
Professor
David Mac Alister
Chapter
5

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1
Crim 210 Chapter 3
Introduction
What is youth crime?
o No consistent definition
o Varies through acts and provinces
Concept general or abstract term that refers to a class or group of more
specific terms
o Example crime refers to any number of specific behaviours
Measuring Youth Crime
Need to know both strength and weaknesses of each source due to
misunderstanding and misrepresentation
Sources:
o Example media and statistics provided by social control agencies
o Social control agencies usually government agencies mandated to
perform various functions in the justice system
Example police, courts, and various correctional institutions
Two most common types of surveys:
1. Victimization surveys
2. Self-report surveys
Field research method in which research is conducted outside of
laboratory, in the setting where the behaviour of interest is occurring
Survey and field information on youth crime provides valid measure of what
we would consider to be actual amount and character of youth crime
Sources And What They Tell Us About Youth Crime
1. The Media
Can be misleading and contributes to public fears about youth crime
wave
Example of media sources newspaper and television news reports
Criminologists view of youth crime different than politicians and general
public
2. Police Statistics
Crimes known to police crimes which police have been provided
information through complaints or from own observations
Crimes cleared by police crimes which police are satisfied they have
a suspect and are prepared to process case
Proportion of youth formally charged by police consistently declined
since introduction of YCJA
Individual police departments produce majority of statistics on criminal
activity in Canada
Standardized reports are sent to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics
in Ottawa where they are aggregated and made available to the public
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2
o Aggregated statistics on crime and other social behaviour are
deemed aggregated when they are grouped into categories that
make it impossible to match individuals on other characteristics
Police statistics are often reported as general indexes
o Crime index statistics Canada categorization scheme for
classifying police crime statistics as property, violent, and other
index crimes
o Crime severity index - an index that assigns a weight to each
offence based on the seriousness of the average sentence for that
offence and the proportion of prison sentences
After the YCJA was implemented, UCR statistics for youth crime reported:
o Youth charged
o Youth cleared otherwise
What Police Statistics Tell Us about Youth Crime
UCR statistics comparing offences since the full implementation of the
YOA indicate that the number of youth charged with Criminal Code
offences has both increased and decreased on a year-to-year basis over
time period (1986-2008)
Youth violent crime rate showed minor fluctuations for last 10 years
o Exception 2000 and 2001, slight increase
o In 2007 went back to 2000 levels
¾ of young people charged or cleared for violent crimes have been
involved in minor assault incidents
o Behaviour includes: pushing/shoving and did NOT result in
physical injury
Most serious offence (homicide) consistently low for youth
o Rate fluctuated from 2% to 3% per 100,000 youth since
introduction of YOA
o Number of youth accused in 2012 is the lowest number for last 10
years
Despite youth crime rate almost half of what it was in 1986, the violent
crime rate for 2008 is almost double what it was in 1986
3. Court Statistics
Kept by individual courts and yield smaller numbers than police statistics
Can provide detailed information
o Example whether person involved in the offence or who the
victims might be; information such as school records, prior
criminal activity
Youth court records are NOT accessible to the public in every province
Advantage of police and court statistics is that they are usually available
for the entire country
What Court Statistics Tell Us about Youth Crime
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3
By 2011-2012 property offence cases going to court had decreased to
35.8%
All other types of offences showed continual increase between 1986 and
2012
Violent offences increased to 29% then decreased to 27.2% in 2011/2012
Drug offences increased to 8.3%
Most dramatic increased occurred for YOA/YCJA and administrative
offences
o 3% of court cases in 1986-1987
o 21% of court cases in 2003-2004
o 21.9% of court cases in 2011-2012
With index crime categories, other offences include only Criminal Code
charges, whereas in court statistics the other category also includes
administrative charges
o Administrative charges charges laid for behaviours that are not
generally considered to be criminal
o Example failure to appear in court
Youth court statistics measure only cases going to court and therefore not
valid measure of youth criminal activity
Self-Report Surveys
Self-report survey a criminology questionnaire survey in which
individuals are asked to report on their involvement in criminal or
delinquent activities
What Self-Report Surveys Tell Us about Youth Crime
Results from self-report studies indicate that delinquent and criminal
behaviour is far more widespread than one would ever think from looking at
official statistics
Self-report measures of delinquency result in estimates that range from four
to ten times the amount reported by official statistics
Victimization Survey
Victimization survey a survey questionnaire that asks individuals
whether they have been victimized over a particular time period, and in what
ways
Focus on crimes against individuals and households and thus do NOT
measure other common offences
o Example shoplifting or drug offences
What Victimization Surveys Tell Us about Youth Crime
Comparisons between the five GSS survey periods (1988, 1993, 1999, 2004,
2009) show relatively flat trend with respect to victimization rate
The 2004 GSS confirms that official crime rates are underreported and that
the level of underreporting varies by offence
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