Why might the figures for recorded crime underestimate the actual amount of crime that takes place?

Essay by jodiemary July 2008

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Outline definitions of what crime is·Make it clear what I am going to do in my essayMain body of essay·Explain what recorded crime is·Talk in more detail about crime - what it is, how it is recorded and why people may not record all crime·What other factors affect the crime figures and may make them 'unbelievable'.

Conclusion·A summary of the main points I have made in my essay, ensuring that I have answered the questionThis assignment will outline what recorded crime is and if it is a true estimation of the level of crime that takes place in the UK. It will then discuss what the reasons may be for over or under reporting of crime.

There are two definitions of crime. The first is the legal definition. This states that 'Crimes are acts which break or contravene the letter of the law'. (Mooney et al, 2004, P6)The normative definition of crime is 'Crimes which break or contravene a set of formal or informal norms or codes.'

(Mooney et al 2004, p6)In order to report a crime, victims or potential observers need to recognise what they have seen as being a crime. They may not report the 'crime' they have seen committed because they view it as being socially acceptable. This level of social acceptability will differ from person to person. Factors, which will affect person's views, may include their culture or religion. An example of this is polygamy, which is widely accepted as the norm by the Mormon religion (wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy) however in western European countries it is against the law.

In the UK when crimes are committed and reported to the police it is then documented. Quantitive evidence shows that since 1930 there has been a large increase in crimes committed. (Maguire 1997, p158, Social trends, 2002.