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NCJ Number: 64065 Find in a Library
Title: MAKING SENSE OF THE RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY OF OFFICIAL CRIME STATISTICS - REVIEW AND PROSPECT
Journal: CANADIAN CRIMINOLOGY FORUM  Volume:2  Issue:1  Dated:(FALL 1979)  Pages:7-19
Author(s): B DUNCAN; P EGLIN
Corporate Author: University of Toronto
Centre of Criminology
Canada
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: THE HISTORY OF THE DEVELOPMENT AND USE OF OFFICIAL CRIME STATISTICS IN EUROPE AND THE U.S. IS REVIEWED, AND THE RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY OF STATISTICS AS INDICATORS OF CRIME AND CRIME LEVELS IS QUESTIONED.
Abstract: GERMANY WAS THE FIRST HOME OF CRIMINAL STATISTICS IN EUROPE, WITH ALEXANDER VON OETTINGER COLLECTING DATA TO DOCUMENT CRIME IN HIS 1820 PUBLICATION. LATER, A BELGIAN SUGGESTED AN INVISIBLE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OFFENSES KNOWN ADJUDICATED AND THE TOTAL UNKNOWN SUM OF OFFENSES COMPLETED. THE STATISTICS WERE CONSIDERED USEFUL AS A REFLECTION OF THE SOCIAL NATURE OF CRIME. THE PERIOD 1820 TO 1900 SAW STATISTICS USED FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SOCIAL POLICY AND REFORM AND AS A BAROMETER OF SOCIAL STABILITY. IN 1897, AN ENGLISHMAN BEGAN TO SYSTEMATICALLY CLASSIFY THE KINDS OF STATISTICS BEING COLLECTED AND EVEN DIVIDED THEM ACCORDING TO COLLECTING AGENCY, AN INDICATION OF HIS CONCERN WITH VARYING AGENCIES' DEFINITIONS OF CRIMINALITY. IN THE U.S., WHERE THE MAJORITY OF WORK DONE ON CRIMINAL STATISTICS HAS OCCURRED, THE INTERNATIONAL CHIEFS OF POLICE IN 1927 APPOINTED A COMMITTEE TO ESTABLISH A UNIFORM CRIME REPORTING SYSTEM; THIS SYSTEM WAS TURNED OVER TO THE F.B.I. IN 1930. THE RESULTING F.B.I. UNIFORM CRIME REPORTS HAVE BEEN CRITICIZED FOR INCONSISTENCY IN DEFINITIONS OF CRIME, UNDERREPRESENTING THE REAL AMOUNT OF CRIME, AND OTHER METHODOLOGICAL PROBLEMS. A REVIEW OF LITERATURE SHOWS THAT THE CONCERN FOR THE VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF THE STATISTICS CONTINUES, WITH ARGUMENTS CHALLENGING SOCIETY'S ROLE IN DEFINING CERTAIN BEHAVIORS AS DEVIANT, THE LACK OF STANDARDIZATION AMONG POLICE DEPARTMENTS ON CRIME DEFINITIONS AND REPORTING PROCEDURES, SUSPICIOUSLY LOW NUMBERS FOR CERTAIN TYPES OF CRIME, MISMANAGEMENT OF THE STATISTICS, FAILURE TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT VICTIM'S MOTIVATION TO REPORT, AND MORE. REFERENCES AND NOTES ARE PROVIDED. (DAG)
Index Term(s): Canada; Crime Rate; Crime Statistics; Data collections; Data integrity; Uniform crime reporting
Note: PRESENTED AT THE ANNUAL MEETINGS OF THE CANADIAN SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY ASSOCIATION, SASKATOON, CANADA, JUNE, 1979
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64065

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