Are Crime Statistics a Reliable Source of Data in Great Britain?

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Are official statistics a reliable source of information about crime in Britain? Official criminal statistics are defined as “Statistical data compiled by the police and the courts and routinely published by governments as indices of the extent of crime” (Munchie, 2001, p194). “The working class, the young males, and members of some ethnic minorities are all more likely to commit crimes than the middle class, the elderly, females and whites – according to official statistics”. (Haralambos and Holborn, 2004, p338). In assessing the question “Are official statistics a reliable source of information about crime in Britain?” several factors will be considered: including how the statistics are collected, the divide between males and females in crime statistics, the over representation of ethnic minorities and any problems in looking at the true extent of crime using statistics as an indicator for this. In the United Kingdom statistics are produced by the Home Office, the first crime statistics were published in 1976, and contained crimes recorded by the police. Today these statistics are published annually. These statistics make up the British Crime Survey, which measures the amount of crime in England and Wales by asking people about crimes they have experienced in the last year. The British Crime Survey also includes crimes which are not reported to the police, therefore is an important alternative to police records and provides criminologists, the police, the courts, the media and anyone else who has an interest with the statistics, two different types of data: Firstly trends on crime over time chartered, Details are compiled from offenders who are eventually found guilty or cautioned; details gathered include sex and the age of the offender. Information is gathered on the “Known offender”, in this case the “Typical offender”, (Maguire 1997). Official crime
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