Official Crime Statistics

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In this essay I will be discussing ''Why are criminologists sceptical on the accuracy of official crime statistics on the extent and seriousness of crime?'' The Official Crime Statistics (OCS) are born from the crimes the police choose to investigate and record. However as many crimes go unreported, they will not be recorded and therefore OCS would not be able to accurately measure the true extent of crimes taking place. OCS come from a broad range of sources such as The British Crime Survey, Official Government Statistics, Victim Surveys, Self report Studies, Offender Surveys and General Population Surveys, although all these sources are used it has been unable to accurately measure the true extent and seriousness of crime. With the number…show more content…
Marxists believe that the police use discretion when the person committing the offence is of a white middle-class background as they are seen as a lesser threat to society than working class offenders. Furthermore, middle class offenders may have high power contacts within the police force who can make a crime 'disappear' or significantly delay the recording of a crime. This type of behaviour demonstrates that there is a class bias. Marxist William Chambliss agrees that there is a class bias. In his publication 'The Saints and Roughnecks' he demonstrated how the police were more suspicious of the working-class and were more likely to arrest them for the same crime committed by a middle-class person. Karl Marx, in his notion of social stratification, has demonstrated how power in society can be used to avoid prosecution. ''prosecution was often avoided due to he importance of the parties involved'' (Coleman and Moynigan, 1996) in other words, if the offender is powerful and of high status in society the police will turn a blind eye to the crime. An example of a person in a position of power avoiding prosecution for a white-collar crime would be former Labour Cabinet Minister, Peter Mandelson. He fraudulently obtained a mortgage by falsifying his earnings, in normal circumstances, this type of offence would warrant a custodial sentence, however he was not convicted. This conclusively demonstrates how police have exercised their discretion when it comes to a white middle-class offender. This does not happen in all cases because the police have to show that the criminal justice system is not bias but is fair and just. To do this they prosecute a small number of high profile, wealthy, powerful offender. Elsmore (1998) in his literature shows that these types of crimes, in part due to them being committed by the wealthy and powerful,

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