Skip to main content

criminal statistics

criminal statistics Once held to reflect accurately the incidence of crime in society, first produced in France in 1827 and regularly for England and Wales since 1837, such statistics—like all official statistics—are now interpreted with caution. Criminal statistics are based on notifiable (triable by jury) recorded offences, and can be drawn from aggregate data recorded by official agencies such as the police and courts, but also from criminological research studies. Limitations have been confirmed by the national British Crime Surveys (1982, 1984, 1988) which have produced data on typically unreported and hidden crime such as vandalism. Even victim surveys can have difficulty eliciting data about some crimes—such as rape and sexual attack. Localized surveys suggest that both routinely compiled criminal statistics and national survey data seriously under-record crime generally and crimes such as rape in particular.

Most sociologists recognize that the criminal statistics are the product of a complex process. Society must first define a behaviour as criminal, but the definition of a criminal act can change over time, and between jurisdictions. To enter the statistics a crime must be reported and recorded, but the public do not report all offences, while changes in police procedure, or simple human error, can mean no record is made. The outcome of a court case, and hence the statistical recording of a conviction or otherwise, also depends upon a complex mix of ingredients. Some would argue, therefore, that criminal statistics are less a picture of the incidence of crime than an indicator of what the authorities regard as the most important offences, what the police actually find it manageable to police, and what kind of offence the court system tends to process with convictions resulting. Nevertheless, after a period of criticism and distrust, use of criminal statistics has been regaining broad acceptance. See also CRIME-RATE; ETHNOSTATISTICS.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"criminal statistics." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Encyclopedia.com. 14 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"criminal statistics." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/criminal-statistics

"criminal statistics." A Dictionary of Sociology. . Retrieved December 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/criminal-statistics

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.