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Do statistics truly represent amount of crime

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SagaciousKJB
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#1

Posted 22 December 2012 - 07:08 AM

Well, with all the talk about gun control lately, there's been a lot of statistics about crime rates posted. I've always been interested in this subject, because I feel that there is a large distinction between the statistics which follow reported crimes and the real-world level of crime as so much of it goes unreported. I myself have been victimized in crimes I've never reported, I've seen crimes that presumably were never reported ( never saw any news about them ) and have heard countless stories from others and asked, "Did you report it?" and they simply say "What for?"

Living in a gang area, I can tell you that the amount of stories involving assault that go unreported are tremendous in volume. Now, I know that a certain percentage of these stories are probably fabricated, but having experienced such assaults and witnessed them myself I know that a good percentage of them are genuine as well. In fact, fist fights are more common than the police being called for them. Out of countless fights I've heard of and witnessed, only a handful have had police presence requested.

On top of this, I also think about missing persons a lot. Being a gang town, and also an agricultural area, just about every year a body shows up in an irrigation canal, the result of a gang-related homicide. Usually these people will be reported as missing persons before this. It makes you wonder how many people on the missing person's list are in fact dead.

Personally with my experience and the place I live in, I can say that I feel statistics are not a fair representation of the actual amount of crime that occurs. I think tossing out percentages would just be pulling figures out of my rear, but I could say confidently that I know of 5 unreported crimes for every 1 that is reported.

sivispacem
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#2

Posted 22 December 2012 - 04:49 PM

I think that the issue isn't necessarily whether statistics represent the amount of crime that occurs- they do, and for that they're far more useful than perceptions of crime (as recent studies in the UK have shown, perceptions of crime continue to rise whilst crime itself falls)- though they're potentially flawed when it comes to reported versus unreported crime (for instance I'd guesstimate that there's a great deal more unreported crime in the US than there is in Western Europe due to a more widely-held perception amongst some societal sub-groups in the US that the police are not to be trusted). The issues that have arisen in discussion of the topic are just how difficult it is to assess crime rates comparatively, as every nation seems to use a different metric and methodology for assessing criminal activities.

MikeWh
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#3

Posted 22 December 2012 - 06:04 PM

QUOTE (sivispacem @ Saturday, Dec 22 2012, 16:49)
I think that the issue isn't necessarily whether statistics represent the amount of crime that occurs- they do, and for that they're far more useful than perceptions of crime (as recent studies in the UK have shown, perceptions of crime continue to rise whilst crime itself falls)- though they're potentially flawed when it comes to reported versus unreported crime (for instance I'd guesstimate that there's a great deal more unreported crime in the US than there is in Western Europe due to a more widely-held perception amongst some societal sub-groups in the US that the police are not to be trusted). The issues that have arisen in discussion of the topic are just how difficult it is to assess crime rates comparatively, as every nation seems to use a different metric and methodology for assessing criminal activities.

Exactly, sivis.

I hear every day about how bad things are getting and people look all shocked when I tell them crime's down (violent crime especially so) - I'm blaming the Daily Mail culture wink.gif

And yes, Statistics are only as good as what's reported, for example you can say X domestic violence incidents happen a year, but a great deal of those don't get reported (very tricky to deal with) so don't get counted, we estimate this has gone up, but the stats say it's gone down!

MIKON8ERISBACK
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#4

Posted 23 December 2012 - 08:54 AM

In my opinion, a lot of crime that actually takes place goes unreported. In my city "statistics" published in local newspapers claim that crime has decreased in comparison to what the stats were in the year 1972. The obvious thing behind this is that people don't bother reporting "small" crimes such as non-violent thefts as much in my city nowadays because they know that the response from the police will be negligible. In cities the size of mine, it's common knowledge that the police will have bigger and better things to worry about. In other words; greater priorities.

As a result, less crime is reported since most crime in the city of Mississauga in the suburban areas are "petty" things such as thefts from automobiles or insignificant vandalisms such as small drawings on electrical transformer boxes (not big enough to really be considered graffiti) or the removal of weatherproof covers from exterior GFCI outlets on buildings. Stuff by wannabe thugs who know how to do stupid things without quite crossing the line.

CheesyJ
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#5

Posted 23 December 2012 - 12:51 PM

They're good to have, but it's like anything else really. Rarely do they ever tell you the full story. They may tell you how much crime is committed, but they don't give you a solution to that problem, or they don't generally give the root causes of the problem, or a specific reason for why that crime is being committed. Statistics are useful and nice to have, however they can't really tell you everything. Often looking deeper into something, or just common sense, will do that for you.

MikeWh
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#6

Posted 24 December 2012 - 02:02 PM

QUOTE (MIKON8ERISBACK @ Sunday, Dec 23 2012, 08:54)
In my opinion, a lot of crime that actually takes place goes unreported. In my city "statistics" published in local newspapers claim that crime has decreased in comparison to what the stats were in the year 1972. The obvious thing behind this is that people don't bother reporting "small" crimes such as non-violent thefts as much in my city nowadays because they know that the response from the police will be negligible. In cities the size of mine, it's common knowledge that the police will have bigger and better things to worry about. In other words; greater priorities.

As a result, less crime is reported since most crime in the city of Mississauga in the suburban areas are "petty" things such as thefts from automobiles or insignificant vandalisms such as small drawings on electrical transformer boxes (not big enough to really be considered graffiti) or the removal of weatherproof covers from exterior GFCI outlets on buildings. Stuff by wannabe thugs who know how to do stupid things without quite crossing the line.

Indeed, I live in a city with approximately five and a half times the population of Mississauga (that's Metro area, not core city) and we have that attitude, if nobody's hurt then it's not a police matter almost - the issue with densely populated areas!

I work in a sparsely populated area where EVERYTHING is reported, crime is statistically higher in my policing area than it is in my home area...Yet I know it's not right.

***

Root cause of crime tends to be a lack of jobs, skills, training or investment in the urban-socio infrastructure. Cut short, basically if there's no money pumped into places then people have 'no choice' * but to turn to crime as they know no other way of helping themselves.

*there are always choices, even if it's choosing WHO to steal from i.e. large chain of stores or local shop with owner just scraping a profit, elderly neighbours.

In the 1990s a former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London said "The majority of street crimes in London are disproportionately committed by young black males" - true as those facts may be, he omitted "Young black males find it harder to get a job, they also face prejudice and an almost pressure to behave that way" - which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Irviding
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#7

Posted 24 December 2012 - 05:18 PM

Something that really hasn't come up is also the nature of crime. White collar crime like hacking, identity theft, financial crimes, is going straight up - it's not a police matter for whatever reason if your money is stolen through the computer. The 911 dispatcher would laugh if you called up and said my bank account got drained but if you said you had 7000 dollars on your kitchen table that was gone they'd send a cop right over.


There's also cooking the books - changing crimes to less severe ones to make the police department look better. So if a captain wants to make his precinct look like it has less rapes they'll tell the victim the case is bad and either drop it, or plead it to like sexual misconduct or criminal sex act. So things like this make statistics inherently "shaky".

MikeWh
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#8

Posted 25 December 2012 - 05:51 PM

QUOTE (Irviding @ Monday, Dec 24 2012, 17:18)
Something that really hasn't come up is also the nature of crime. White collar crime like hacking, identity theft, financial crimes, is going straight up - it's not a police matter for whatever reason if your money is stolen through the computer. The 911 dispatcher would laugh if you called up and said my bank account got drained but if you said you had 7000 dollars on your kitchen table that was gone they'd send a cop right over.


There's also cooking the books - changing crimes to less severe ones to make the police department look better. So if a captain wants to make his precinct look like it has less rapes they'll tell the victim the case is bad and either drop it, or plead it to like sexual misconduct or criminal sex act. So things like this make statistics inherently "shaky".

If 911 works like our 999 system it's for life and death emergency or persons at risk of serious harm, they'd laugh at you anyway!

We have a secondary 101 system for non-emergencies like fraud!

The Yokel
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#9

Posted 26 December 2012 - 11:25 AM

QUOTE (sivispacem @ Saturday, Dec 22 2012, 18:49)
For instance I'd guesstimate that there's a great deal more unreported crime in the US than there is in Western Europe due to a more widely-held perception amongst some societal sub-groups in the US that the police are not to be trusted.

Are you referring to the "no snitching" culture often seen in American movies and TV shows?

sivispacem
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#10

Posted 26 December 2012 - 01:42 PM

QUOTE (GTAvanja @ Wednesday, Dec 26 2012, 12:25)
QUOTE (sivispacem @ Saturday, Dec 22 2012, 18:49)
For instance I'd guesstimate that there's a great deal more unreported crime in the US than there is in Western Europe due to a more widely-held perception amongst some societal sub-groups in the US that the police are not to be trusted.

Are you referring to the "no snitching" culture often seen in American movies and TV shows?

No, I'm referring to:

1) The much more widely held views in the US- true or otherwise- that the police forces are corrupt
2) The more widely held views that the police forces are racially discriminatory
3) Various communities, based on ethnic and social groups, who have a distrust of authority and by proxy the police, who would be statistically less likely to report crimes, both for reasons 1) and 2) outlined but also for cultural reasons.
4) The existence of large immigrant populations from nations (sub-Saharan Africa. Latin and Souther America, parts of the Caribbean et cetera) where figures of authority are highly corrupt, and therefore by extension an ingrained attitude of 3)

The Yokel
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#11

Posted 26 December 2012 - 02:40 PM

Oh good. Then I contributed to the topic with something new.

F4L?
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#12

Posted 27 December 2012 - 10:19 PM

I can't say this really adds anything much that hasn't been said, I don't think the discussion can go much further either.

First hand, I've never called the police or reported anything, I've been in numerous fights and witnessed many as well, I've seen other people carry out vandalism, break ins (into.schools and building sites) and i participated in some of it to a minor degree, but calling the police is a waste of time, all these things are so minor and won't do anything but get people in trouble, it won't fix anything.

Since we're here, I had a question.
I've been arrested a few times on drunk and disorderly, and was locked up once for a fight but I told the V police that "I don't remember what happened" and the other guy must have done the same, nobody was charged, do either of these count towards crime rates?

If I get admitted to hospital will they note that I've been in a fight? Even if I lie blatantly? I'm kinda curious where they get stats from if nobody reports things.

Icarus
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#13

Posted 28 December 2012 - 01:36 AM

QUOTE (finn4life @ Thursday, Dec 27 2012, 15:19)
If I get admitted to hospital will they note that I've been in a fight? Even if I lie blatantly?

As far as I know, the only time the hospital will get the police involved is if there's really strong evidence of there being a crime. For example, if you go in and ask for a rape kit to be collected, the police will become involved. If you go in to have a bullet removed, the police will be involved.

As for a fight, I really don't think the GP is going to care too much, unless you're fighting for your life, then it will likely end up being in the hands of the police.

Don't quote me on that, though, since I'm not overly familiar with the hospital procedure. The only ones I know for sure are the rape and bullet scenarios.

sivispacem
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#14

Posted 28 December 2012 - 09:49 AM

I think it varies based on where the reporting is done. The UK crime statistics are based on reports by the general public, and then a certain amount of those result in further enquiries to get more information, which is then averaged out amongst the entire sample size. Some of the US ones appear to be entirely based on the statistics, with no further exploration, and some of the others are entirely based on averaging survey samples out over the entire population.

Irviding
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#15

Posted 29 December 2012 - 06:22 AM

QUOTE

If 911 works like our 999 system it's for life and death emergency or persons at risk of serious harm, they'd laugh at you anyway!

In the US you'd call 911 if you walked in and your house was burglarized.




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