Outline and assess the importance of victim surveys for sociological understanding of crime and deviance.

Essay by tors_willzCollege, Undergraduate May 2004

download word file, 2 pages 4.5

Downloaded 83 times

There are many problems associated with the police recording of crime statistics, the main problem being that many crimes go unreported. As an alternative it was suggested that a cross section of the population should be asked about the crimes that have been commited against them. It was argued that more people would be likley to report crimes to an anonymous survey than to the police.

There are several reasons why so many crimes go unreported. Some people may be too shocked or ashamed to report a crime, such as in cases of rape. Some may be in fear of reprisal, or may be protecting the offender, such as in cases of domestic violence. Other victims may think that the crime is too trivial or that the police would not be able to help anyway.

Apart from crimes that are not reported, there are also crimes that are not recorded by the police.

It is estimated that only 40% of reported crime is recorded. Therefore victim surveys are important to give a more realistic understanding of crime.

The British Crime Survey (BCS) is now conducted on an annual basis, on approximatley 15,000 households. The sample is designed to be as representative as possible, selecting households from all over the country. The BCS in 1998 discovered that, only one in four crimes are reported to the police, car theft is the most likley to be reported (98%) whilst most other crimes have a report rate of less than 50%, of all crimes vandalism is the most under-reported. The crime being 'too trivial' is the most commonly given reason for not reporting crime. It also discovered that most crimes are property crimes.

However there are some problems with the BCS. The most obvious one being that as a victim survey...