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SOC 1500 (173)
Chapter 3

Chapter 3 Notes

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SOC 1500
Mavis Morton

Chapter 3: The Nature and Extent of Crimes The study of criminology asks and analyzes questions such as patterns in crime in order to gain knowledge. This knowledge develops theories and eventually predictions leading to crime control. Crime rates change for 5 reasons: 1) Some crimes a report-sensitive meaning that the crimes are still occurring but are not reported on so the public is never aware 2) Policing-sensitive crimes affect the level of policing. Example: without proactive policing, drug crimes would not come to attention of police 3) Definition crimes: a change in the law means a change in crime rates 4) Media senstitive crimes 5) An actual real change in rate The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) - Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics collects data and statistics about crimes committed - The data is first represented as raw numbers - It is then showed in percentages and compared against previous years - Thirdly, the data is shown as crime per 100,000 people - Crimes that are cleared are also recorded in the UCR  A crime is cleared when someone is arrested/charged/prosecuted or if the accused dies Accuracy of the UCR 5 main limitations: Reporting practices: many people choose not to report crimes for various reasons Law enforcement practices: police forces are different – they treat certain crimes differently. Studies have shown that the way a police department runs affect crime rates in the community. Legal definitions: change in the definitions and wording of laws that either increases crime rates or decreases them Media practices: the media has the ability to give off impressions that crime rates are “out of control” leading to changes in legislation and police enforcement. For example: the Youth Justice Acct was changed when the public believed that youth crime rates were getting out of hand. The crimes rates then increase from 7 percent to 30 percent when police started charging youth with crimes that had not previously required charging. Methodological processes: method issues; definitions of crimes can change, some crimes go underreported, reports can vary in accuracy Self Reports  Used as an alternate way to record data  Official data does not consider personality, attitude, and behaviours of the individual criminal  Used as a mechanism to produce rough/approximate figures of crime rates that are missed by official statistics  Self-reports can estimate the number of offenders that are unknown to police  There are problems with accuracy: many will not admit easily to committing a crime (even if it is anonymous) because they have nothing to gain from doing so; some may also exaggerate a crime they committed, forget or be confused at the question; the kids who are absent from school or refuse to participate in the survey might make up a significant portion of the results  However, the results are quite accurate and compliment official statistics Victim Surveys  Many victims do not report their experiences to police  They examine the victim’s experience, why they did not report it and their perception of the crime  Victims may fear retaliation or think reporting it will change nothing  Inaccuracy due to: victims mistaking accident from crime (lost wallet becomes stolen), underreport due to embarrassment or forgetfulness, telescoping (thinking the event happened more recently than it really did) OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION Commissions of Inquiry  Appointed by federal or provincial governments  They cannot establish individual liability  The information revealed might have gone undiscovered or not investigated by police Crisis Index for Justice  Mennonite Central Committee established that: “ a system responds to crime primarily by punishing offenders, yet virtually ignores the victims and communities hurt by crime”  Crime rate index measures 4 main areas: - crime
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