Week 3: Who is the victim and how do we know?

This week we examine the sources of information about victimisation, and debate the issue of bias in criminal justice statistics.

Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending March 2014 - ONS (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/crime-stats/crime-statistics/period-ending-march-2014/stb-crime-stats.html)
Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending March 2014 – ONS (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/crime-stats/crime-statistics/period-ending-march-2014/stb-crime-stats.html)

Counting victimisations

  • When is a crime a crime? When it is…
    • Recognised
    • Reported
    • Recorded

Relies disproportionately on public perceptions and co-operation – as well as accurate memory of events

In England and Wales there are two main sources of information on victimisation:

  • Police recorded crime statistics
  • Crime Survey for England and Wales (formerly British Crime Survey)

How reliable are the different statistics?

  • In 2000, roughly three times as many crimes were estimated by the British Crime Survey as the police recorded statistics
  • Reveals the ‘dark figure’ of crime
  • Crime Survey for England and Wales is widely regarded as one of the best sources of victimisation data in the world, but only for the crimes it examines
  • Police figures pick up some crimes not recorded by crime survey (e.g. ‘victimless’ crimes, commercial crimes, crimes against people not living in private households)
  • There are some victims we know very little about (hidden victims, which there is a separate lecture about)

Other sources of information

  • National Crime Victimization Survey (US)
  • International Crime Victims Survey (Europe)
  • We also use
    • Commercial victimisation survey
    • Offender interviews
    • Small scale surveys/projects

Victimisation surveys aren’t able to tell us everything we need to know about victims of crime – it is important to understand other concepts, such as fear of crime and the impact of the victimisation

Being careful with statistics

It can be tricky to interpret statistics. Think about:

  • What is being measured?
  • Who was asked?
  • How were the questions phrased?
  • Where are you getting the information from?
  • Who commissioned the research?

Be particularly cautious if a number seems unusually large, or small, or if the reporting seems very one sided. Don’t rely on statistics directly from the media – always go to the original source.

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1HYW70cNc3JVun9O3FQLtkadq1YqkyX_WgVd3b5c1iYw/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000″ size=”medium”]

You can also access the slides directly here

Relevant links:
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