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Official Statistics On Crime Are Often Likened To The ÐŽ§Tip Of An IcebergЎЁ. Critically Assess This Assertion In Light Of The ÐŽ§Dark FigureЎЁ Of Crime And Any New Forms Of Data That Can Provide A Clearer Picture Of The True Extent Of C

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Official Statistics on crime are often likened to the ÐŽ§tip of an IcebergЎЁ. Critically assess this assertion in light of the ÐŽ§dark figureЎЁ of crime and any new forms of data that can provide a clearer picture of the true extent of crime.

Crime is continuously changing in its definition in peopleÐŽ¦s perceptions with no complex classification being universally accepted. This forms the basis of the problems faced when attempting to count crime, who determines what crime is; the government of the day, the people, or the law? If crime cannot be defined then placing crimes into categories is even harder, how can statistics wholly represent ЎҐthe true extent of crimeÐŽ¦ when one can not successfully categorise all crimes. The ЎҐdark figureÐŽ¦ represents many types of crime and criminals, appearing for several reasons, to quantify this figure is impossible, however, an educated impression can be established when looking at various forms of data and information.

Official Statistics contain two parts; court statistics and offences known to the police. Crimes and the nature of punishment imposed on conviction are reported to the home office, by each police force (Jones 2000:14). Used as a starting point for investigating criminal offences, official statistics can be important for formulating policies and proving the effectiveness of them also as a social barometer where our society can be compared to other states or history. Recording the most serious crimes and which result in prison sentences. Official Statistics provide a, ÐŽ§perfectly adequate (means to) judge the size and shape of the ЎҐcrime problemÐŽ¦ÐŽÐ (Oxford Handbook1997:150). They are, however, greatly criticised and do not provide a complete picture when looking at crime for many reasons; court and police data are the only sources, providing a limited basis to draw educated conclusions. Many government agencies are not even consulted about their statistics ÐŽV transport police, environment, Inland Revenue and benefits have their own figures. Therefore official statistics can only begin to represent a very small amount of crime leaving way for a ЎҐdark figureÐŽ¦ to form most of the iceberg (Oxford Handbook1997:149).

Over time the methods for counting crime have changed, for example; criminals are no longer charged for the most serious offence but for every victim (Home Office 01/03/06); definitions of crimes have been expanded or re-defined ÐŽV the upgrading of common assault to ЎҐnotifiable offences,ÐŽ¦ (Oxford Handbook2002:323) making it impossible to compare crimes year to year and an understanding of what crime statistics show. The police play a key role in the figures that appear for numerous reasons; some incidents may not be recorded if they are impossible to solve; deemed too trivial; cases may not proceed to trial because there are few reliable witnesses or victims may mistrust the police and believe there is institutionalised racism. Police have also confessed to only tackling incidents that are ЎҐreal crimeÐŽ¦ where there is greater reward and satisfaction (Croall2000:21). In many cases police are called to intervene in conflicts, however, many refuse to press charges; for fear of reprisals with family, living situations, and social circles. Victims of domestic incidents may be inappropriately dealt with, i.e. domestic violence victims may be dealt with by male officers who might also beat their partner, ÐŽ§some officers have even admitted to not believing domestic violence to be a real crimeЎЁ (Jones2000:16). Others may initially press charges but are unable to provide evidence in court or back away, ÐŽ§In practice a series of hurdles exists at every stage of the process, which means there is a huge attrition rate, with only a small proportion of violent incidents resulting in either recorded offences or successful prosecutionsЎЁ (Jones2000:14).

Police forces have been judged on their ЎҐclear up rateÐŽ¦, leaving forces to question the probability of cases being solved quickly. Government and agencies use statistics to justify new laws, when these are in place statistics may be used as proof of success. Chief Officers may also use statistics to acknowledge their success in reducing crime or the need for more officers in fighting crime (Jones2000:16). With many reasons for inadequately representing the true picture of crime Official Statistics have been hindered from the start due to the way in which data is collected.

The ЎҐdark figureÐŽ¦ is crime which is, ÐŽ§not reported to the police, or having been reported, not officially recorded by the policeЎЁ (Oxford Handbook1997:161). The vast majority of this crime is attributed to ÐŽ§white collar crimeЎЁ defined by Sutherland in Croall, ÐŽ§a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupationЎЁ (Croall2001:3). Although this definition is highly disputed it provides some understanding of what is believed, by some, to be a vast proportion of the ЎҐdark figureÐŽ¦. However, for some this ЎҐdark figureÐŽ¦ can wear a dress whilst carrying a briefcase. Otto Pollak disputed that Women are responsible for a large proportion of unreported crimes for many reasons; crimes they commit are less likely to be reported or detected, if they are, there is likelihood of leniency by the police. Pollak claims Woman are more likely to instigate crimes then commit them and a vast majority of crimes committed are against family members who will be reluctant to notify the police (Coleman, Monynihan1999:12).

The ЎҐdark figure of crimeÐŽ¦ is commonly attributed to the ЎҐwhite collarÐŽ¦ criminal for several reasons, crimes committed within businesses are often dealt with internally or by other agencies, court action is a last resort. It would be in a businessÐŽ¦ interest to prevent police from taking action against an employee or the company; this would damage their reputation and consequently their profits. Often crimes committed are seen to be too trivial to report and thus will go unnoticed by many or not actually seen as ЎҐreal crimes,ÐŽ¦ due to the social construct of society. The invisibility of ЎҐwhite collar crimeÐŽ¦ makes it impossible to count and it is argued that ÐŽ§the amount ÐŽK.exceeds that of conventional crime and that it has more serious effectsЎЁ (Croall2001:21). The abundance of under-reported crimes is frightening, especially when there is such an unknown quantity, however it is impossible to establish a tangible number. As Nelken said most ЎҐwhite collarÐŽ¦ crimes are not included within Official Statistics (or the BCS), which is where most debates about crime



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