There are two main measures of crime in Britain:
1) Police recorded crime - those recorded by the police from which official stats on crime are drawn.
2) the British Crime Survey - a number of interviews with adults, in which people are asked whether they have been a victims of any crime during previous year. The sample group is very representative.
However, these statistics are not as representative and as valid as they should be. We can say that many of the crimes are not reported or are just not recorded by the police. These crimes are called 'dark-figure' or 'hidden-figure'. The existance of such numbers is due to the following reasons:
- the official stats does not record all known types of crime. Summary offences - those crime, which were dealt with by Magistrates' Courts as opposed to Crown Courts. they were not involved in official stats until 1998. For instance, the crimes involving driving after consuming alcohol over the legal limits. Or the cases when businesses did not included all the sales information in order to avoid paying high tax rates. also Summary offences - those crime, which were dealt with by Magistrates' Courts as opposed to Crown Courts. they were not involved in official stats until 1998.
- according to Simmons & Dodd (2003), over 30% of commited crime was not recorded in 2002\03 period. Even though that the police has an obligation to record crimes, some of the crimes are not recorded because they are seen as not worth the attention of a policeman. Because of this discretion, some areas may appear much more criminal than the others. An example would be a fact that Nottingamshire was named the most criminal area in the contry in 1981, simply because the police forces recorded all the crimes, even those which included 10 pounds or less (Holdaway, 1988). also, a crime might be committed several times but only the most serious offence is counted (Maguire, 2002). For instance, domestic violence.
- police might prioritise the crimes in order to have a better detection rate and not record some of the 'unsolved' crimes. as well as the police might have been forced to pay special attention to a particular type of crime, because local authoritites or mass media are expecially conserned about this type of crime.
- some cases might not be recorded. some types of crimes are more likely to be reported than others (Kershaw et al., 2008).
or, maybe, not realising that the crime has been committed - fraud, for instance.
the victim might also be too scared or powerless to actually report about the crime, it usually happens with child abuse and domestic violence.
the triviality of the crime might also be the issue - vandalism.
prostitution is obviously not reported much because there's no victim.
also people might not trust the police or think that nothing can be done - so what's the point in reporting anyway?
or the matter was dealt with privately, because some people don't want the police to be involved.
But a relative quantity of a particular crime committed doesn't mean that it shouldn't be dealt with or they are not significant. For instance, sexual offences make a small proportion of overall crimes, but they still have a very negative effect on the victim.
Crime statistics are a social construction - they are constructed during the process of social interaction and are based on a series of interpretations, definitions and decisions, which are influenced by a variety of factors and differ from situation to situation.