In her article, “The Dark Figure of British Crime”, Claire Berlinski (2009) writes the following:
The problem [with the accuracy of crime statistics] was first described in the 1830s by Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian mathematician and sociologist and the founder of modern scientific statistics. The real crime rate, which he called the “dark figure of crime,” could not be revealed by official statistics, he argued: “Our observations can only refer to a certain number of known and tried offenders out of the unknown sum total of crimes committed. Since this sum total of crimes committed will probably ever continue unknown, all the reasoning of which it is the basis will be more or less defective.”
Berlinski further outlined what she finds to be the reasons for why some crime is left unaccounted for. The following are a few of her key points:
- People may be unaware that a crime has been committed because they view it as normal or trivial behavior.
- Victims are unaware that they have been victimized – either because of the nature of the crime, such as fraud, or because the victims are drunk, mentally ill, or otherwise incapable of understanding what has happened.
- Victims recognize that a crime has been committed and do not report it.
- Victims might not speak the language well enough to explain what happened to them.
- Victims might fear reprisals.
- Victims might feel no confidence in the police and see reporting a crime as pointless.
- The police conclude that there is insufficient evidence to believe the crime report.
- Poorly performing police departments have an incentive to stop recording crimes: It makes them look more successful than they are.
Using the library, Internet, and other resources, research applicable trend analysis reports and examples to support your response to the following question:
- Which of the arguments above do you consider largest contributing factor to the dark figure of crime? In other words, which one do you believe to be of most concern for crime analysts and the degree of accuracy to which their statistical crime analyses concludes?