THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF CRIME
o Is the public willing to call police?
o What are police looking for?
o Has the law changed?
o What is the media publicizing?
• Real change
o Is behaviour changing?
UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS (UCR)
• Collected by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics
o 1962: aggregate (summary) data collected each month from all police
o 1984: revised UCR2 collects information about each crime, more
detail, 148 police forces participate (about 90% of all crime)
Incident based data: Data n specifics like where is happened and
o CCJS also conducts Homicide Survey (since 1961)
• When collecting the UCR you have to look at
o The incidence of crime
• Actual (reported) and founded (through investigation)
o Percentage change from year to year
o Broken down into violent, property, and other
o Crime rate is # of crimes / population x 100,000
o Clearance rate (by charge or otherwise)
• Can the police identify a suspect?
• Varies for different offences
ACCURACY OF UCR
• Reporting practices
o Will people call the police?
o Ex. sexual assault
• Law enforcement practices
o Are police enforcing some crimes, not others?
o Ex. zero tolerance policies, effect of forfeiture laws
• Legal Definitions
o Have the laws changed? Ex. Prostitution, sexual assault, ar
• Media practices
o Do news stories encourage citizens to report more incidents? When a
crime is committed, the victim reports it to the police, the media picks
up on it, the public finds out and politicians feel the need to do
something. Almost a cycle that repeats itself
o Do news reports encourage police to crack down?
• Methodological practices o How are the crimes counted?
o How do police decide if a crime is founded
SELF REPORT SURVEYS
• People report their own criminal activities anonymously
• Usually quite accurate
• But not always the case. Problems include
• People not wanting to admit their crime. Not feeling the need
to do so
• Used with captive audience (ex. Students, prisoners)
• Emphasis is on minor offences
o Ex. drug and alcohol use
• Are the most deviant least likely to respond?
o Ex. Truants (kids who skip school and ish)
“Missing cases” are people who can make up a significant portion of the
population. They may be crime prone.
This is the third source of crime data used and surveys people if they have
ever been victims in a crime
US since 1966; Canada since 1988
Some surveys include:
o Mainly through telephone interviews
o Canadian Urban Victimization Survey (CUVS)
o General Social Survey (GSS)
o Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS)
Problems with this include:
o Over reporting
Loss is reported as theft
Identifying past victimization as recent
Forgetting, embarrassment, fear
o Doesn’t include personal criminal activity
Excludes people without phones, underage victims
o Question format
Poor format may invalidate answers
HOW SIMILAR ARE THESE
UCR tallies and contains data on list of crimes
Self-report provide information on personal characteristics
Victim survey provides information on unreported crimes
o Measure different things o Survey rates are higher than reported rates
o Self-report depends on honesty, accuracy, and integrity of criminals
o Are complementary
o Often show similar trends and patterns
o Agree on personal characteristics of serious crime and criminals
o Agree on location and time of crime
ATLERNATIVE SOURCES OF INFORMATION
Crisis index for justice
o Critical in system that “responds to crime primarily by punishing
o Virtually ignores the victims and communities hurt by crime.
o This show the differences in provinces by:
Overall and violent crime rate
Spending on prisons
Spending on community corrections
Commissions of Inquiry
o Appointed by both federal and provincial for investigations.
o Not normally publicized by media and not investigated by police.
Sexual abuse in religious and government institutions
Doping in sports
The federal sponsorship program
Attracts a lot of attention because (as told by Steven Levitt):
o Increase in police
o Increase in prison incarcerations