Crime Statistics Do Not Reflect True Crime Rates

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Crime statistics are not what we are led to believe. We hear a lot about the crime rates going up and down from the media and they tend to expand on specific types of criminal behavior that might be of interest to the public. When politicians are running for office we are told that the crime rates are down due to the tough crime policies that they have been implemented. Citizens seek crime rates for assistance in determining if the area they reside in is safe. Some people wish to get a general idea of the crime rates for a specific neighborhood where they are thinking of purchasing a house. But what is never explained is where do the crime statistics come from and were there any factors that could have had an effect on their reliability. Crime statistics, which are created from what is reported to the police, are often unreliable. There are several influential factors that can make crime statistics both increase and decrease at any time. Most police departments, but not all, use Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) to submit their statistics to the state. Attempting to compare two police agency's crime statistics is almost impossible because not all police agencies use the UCR program for classifying crimes. UCR is a national data reporting policy that is maintained by the state and regulated by the FBI. This policy requires police agencies to report their monthly statistics by following a hierarchy scale for classifying the criminal offenses. A hierarchy scale is a list of crimes in a specific order of importance used to pick out the highest crime when there are multiple crimes committed in one incident. An example: a citizen contacts the police and makes a report of a burglary, a rape and a larceny all occurring in one incident. A... ... middle of paper ... ...lly relies mostly on the media for their information regarding crimes in their neighborhoods. The media tends to only broadcast certain information about these occurrences in an attempt to boost the ratings for the news station. The public doesn't get an unbiased opinion of what actually occurred or a chance to know all of the facts. In reality, crimes that are reported are only a fraction of what in fact occurs. Crime statistics do not actually reflect patterns in crime or a risk of victimization and are of little or no use to the public in determining the crime rates for any given neighborhood. Since crime statistics only represent reported crime and not actual crime occurrences they should never be considered exact at any time. Statistical information is available upon request from the government and should only be considered an estimate of the true crime rates.
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