Why is the definition and measurement of crime problematic Essay

1139 Words Nov 8th, 2013 5 Pages
Why is the definition and measurement of crime problematic?

The term crime is not by any means easy to define. It does not have any simple or universally accepted definition in modern day society. Crime is the result of a complex social process, therefore not every criminal act is considered to be a crime.
It has been said that a crime has only been committed when a court decides that one has occurred. For example a reported offence may not make it to trial due to a lack of evidence, so no further action is taken so it would not be considered a crime. This way of defining crime can be problematic as a victim may decide not to report a minor infraction when a conviction isn't likely. So would that mean although there had been an
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This in itself is problematic, as individuals we have different tolerances and attitudes towards crime and a minor act such as criminal damage may go unreported. Whereas more severe incidents such as burglary and incidents causing physical harm are more likely to be reported. This could lead to a misrepresentation of the figures as statistics would show higher occurrences of violent crimes.
However it doesn’t just end with reporting the crime, in order for the police to record a crime and therefore it become a statistic they must decide that a crime has occurred. The police may decide that there hasn’t been a crime or it may be that there has been a crime but there is no action to be taken. In this case the event would not be recorded. So with police recorded crime there is the issue of accuracy as the figures presented are likely to be much lower than the actual figures.
Crime can also be measured through court and prison statistics. However not only do the police have to decide there has been a crime and arrest a suspect, the crown prosecution service has to determine whether the evidence is enough to get a conviction after which the jury must decide on a verdict. Offenders may be convicted of only one of many offences committed this can lead to a gross underestimate of actual crime rate figures.
With prison statistics we need to take into account that sentencing can be

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