Ch06 Measuring Crime


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Maxfield, Michael G. & Babbie, Earl R. (2011). Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology, 6th Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing

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Ch06 Measuring Crime

  1. 1. 1Measuring Crime
  2. 2. OUTLINE Introduction General Issues in Measuring Crime Crimes Known to Police Measuring Crime Through Victim Surveys Surveys of Offending Drug Surveillance Systems Measuring Crime for Specific Purposes
  3. 3. 3•Crime can be a dependent variable inexploratory, descriptive, explanatory, andapplied studies•Crime can also be an independentvariable, as in a study of how crime affectsfear and other attitudes•It can be both: drug use  otheroffenses
  4. 4. 4•What offenses?•What units of analysis? •Specific entities about which researchers collect information •Offender, victim, offenses, incidents•What purpose? •Monitoring •Agency Accountability •Research
  5. 5. 5•Most widely used measures of crime arebased on police records•Certain types are detected almost exclusivelyby observation (traffic and victimless offenses)•Most crimes reported by victim or witnesses•What crimes are not measured well by policerecords? •Assaults •Robberies
  6. 6. 6•Circa 1929, under FBI since 1930s•Originally, reporting voluntary, but now verycommon•Type I offenses (Index crimes/offenses):murder, rape, robbery, larceny, burglary,aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft andarson (added in 1979)•Type II offenses: a compilation of less seriouscrimes•Summary-based, group level unit of analysis
  7. 7. 7•The UCR is neither an exclusive nor anexhaustive measure•Not all law enforcement agencies submitcomplete reports to the FBI, and the quality ofthe data submitted varies•Summary-Based Measure of Crime •UCR data includes summary, or total, crime counts for reporting agencies (cities/counties)•UCR data are aggregates - cannot be used indescriptive or explanatory studies that focuson individual crimes, offenders, or victims
  8. 8. 8•Based on incidents as units of analysis•Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) •Police agencies submit detailed info about individual homicide incidents•Can conduct a variety of studies that examineindividual events
  9. 9. 9•Joint effort by FBI and BJS to convert UCR toa NIBRS•NIBRS reports each crime incident rather thanthe total # of certain crimes for each LawEnforcement agency•Many features are reported individually abouteach incident, offenses, offenders, victims UCR  NIBRS 8 Part I offenses  46 Group A offenses
  10. 10. 10•Hierarchy rule dropped•Victim type (individual, business,government, society/public)•Attempted/Completed•Drug-related offenses•Computers and crime•Quality control; states require certification
  11. 11. 11•Eliminating the hierarchy rule means offenseclassifications are mutually exclusive •But not exhaustive, not all crimes are counted•Creating auditing standards and requiringsubmission of data on computer readablemedia enhance reliability•Crimes are selectively reported to police andselectively recorded by police •Voluntary: no agency is required to submit crime reports to the FBI in any form
  12. 12. 12•Can obtain info on crimes not reported topolice•Can measure incidents police may notofficially record as crimes•Provides data on victims/offenders(individuals), and the incidents themselves(social artifacts)
  13. 13. 13•Since 1972 by Census Bureau•Sought to illuminate the “dark figure ofunreported crime”•Longitudinal panel study: households agree toparticipated for 3 years (7 interviews; oneevery 6 months) and then replaced•Does not measure all crime•Respondents are asked screening questions
  14. 14. 14•Measures both reported and unreportedcrime•Independent of changes in reporting•More information about how crime impactedvictim than UCR•Provides more victim characteristics thanUCR
  15. 15. 15•Telescoping incident dates•Faulty memory•Little information on offenders•No information on CJS response if reported•Excludes crimes against commercialestablishments•Only includes residents of US
  16. 16. 16•Sought to improve measurement of domesticviolence and sexual assault•Revised screening questions and added cuesto help respondents recall and distinguishminor incidents•More direct questions on rape and othersexual crimes•Greater attention to measuring victimizationsby someone the respondent knows•Gradual increase of telephone interviews toreplace in-person interviews
  17. 17. 17•First Development in late 1960’s •A series of city-level surveys by the Census Bureau•1998 BJS and the Office of CommunityOriented Policing Services (COPS) launchedpilot surveys in 12 large and medium-sizedcities •Jointly developed a guidebook and software so that local law enforcement agencies and other groups can conduct their own community surveys
  18. 18. 18•Crimes Known to Police: •UCR •SHR •NIBRS•Victim Surveys •NCVS •Community Victimization Surveys
  19. 19. 19•Delinquency, "victimless" crimes, and crimesrarely observed or reported to police may bemeasured by self-report surveys •Example: prostitution, drug abuse, public order, shoplifting, drunk driving•Two ongoing self-report studies •National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) •Monitor The Future (MTF)
  20. 20. 20•Based on a national sample of households•Conducted since 1971; 2004 sample had68,000 individuals•Includes questions to distinguish betweenlifetime use, current use, and heavy use•Encourages candid responses via procedures•Includes residents of college dorms, roominghouses, and homeless shelters
  21. 21. 21•Conducted since 1975 by the NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse•Includes several samples of high schoolstudents and others, totaling about 50,000respondents each year•Questions concern self-reported use ofalcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, delinquency,other acts•A subset of 2,400 MTF respondents receivefollow-up questionnaire
  22. 22. 22•Surveillance systems have been developed toobtain alternative measures of drug use•Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) –provides ongoing assessment of drug useamong arrestees•Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) –collects emergency medical treatment reportsfor “drug episodes” from a sample of hospitals
  23. 23. 23•Local Crime and Self-Report Surveys •e.g., any purpose!•Incident-Based Crime Reports •e.g., Newark PD vehicle theft•Observing Crime •e.g., shoplifting, bar drinking and violence
  24. 24. 24•UCR & SHR: best for murder and crimes inwhich the victim is a business or commercialestablishment•NCVS: best for crimes against persons orhouseholds that are not reported to police•Self-report surveys: best at measuringcrimes that do not have readily identifiablevictims and that are less often observed by orreported to police