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NCJ Number: 162002 Find in a Library
Title: Taking Wrongs Seriously: Public Perceptions of Crime Seriousness
Journal: British Journal of Criminology  Volume:36  Issue:2  Dated:(Spring 1996)  Pages:299-318
Author(s): M O'Connell; A Whelan
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 20
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This study investigated three issues central to the study of the public perception of crime seriousness, based on data from a survey of a representative sample of Irish (Dublin) citizens.
Abstract: A total of 1,000 names were selected at random from the 1992 electoral register (the most recent available) for the greater Dublin area. Systematic random sampling was used. A total of 623 completed questionnaires were received during the 6-week period of the survey. The respondents were presented with 10 specific instances of offending, the seriousness of which they had to rate by circling a number from 1 to 11 on a Likert scale. The respondents also supplied demographic information on themselves. Findings show that overall, the direction of the means in nine of the offenses, with the differences between punitiveness groups generally significant, apparently show that seriousness perceptions and choice of appropriate penalties do seem to match. A comparison between 10 mean offense ratings from the Levi and Jones (1985) sample for England and Wales and the current survey in Ireland shows a similarity in the ratings for the top five offenses, which were murder, police corruption, mugging, assault on a police officer, and fraud against the public. Variations occurred in the offenses that were rated as less serious. Class did not apparently have a significant impact on seriousness scores, and education only had an effect on the marijuana sale item. Gender had a significant effect on the perceptions of underage sex, marijuana sale, and fraud against both the public and a company, with females perceiving all of these as more serious than did males. The methodological debate over rating and ranking offense seriousness is also considered. 3 tables, 4 figures, and 29 references
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Crime seriousness measures; England; Foreign criminal justice research; Ireland; Public Opinion of Crime; Wales
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