Crime trends are formed from reports of crimes that have already occurred. Areas are mapped and marked with what time and what type of crime occurs over a specific period of time (a large database is used, a record that holds a full year of information is more accurate than just a few days, a week, or a month).
There is one fundamental problem with reported crime. The shortcoming in any analysis of crime is what criminologists call the dark figure of crime. The total amount of crime consists of the following two things:
- The amount of crime reported to the police
- Crimes not known to the police
Crimes not known to the police may happen because they were undiscovered, unreported, or not recorded properly by the law enforcement department. One aid to help with the dark figure of crime is self-reported victimization surveys; yet, they still do not pick up all of the unreported crime. Some surveys are sent to homes and only the head of the household fills it out, and this person may not know that a crime has been perpetrated on their spouse or child. Therefore, the notation of this crime happening will be overlooked. In a self-reported study, one may not consider the event a crime. These crimes will not be noted in any statistics. These are the dark figures of crime—crime that is happening, yet it is not reported.
Given what you now know about crime mapping, discuss the dark figure of crime again, answering the following questions:
- Is there any way a local police department may gather information on crimes that were never reported?
- How would the local department handle unreported crimes in a confidential and private manner?
- Give suggestions on how this may be accomplished and if you think that it could be accomplished?
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