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Crime is changing and evolving everyday of our lives. Which means the way crime is measured is changing as well. There are three significant methods used to measure the nature and extent of crime. There are also advantages and disadvantages that go with each method.
The first method of measuring crime is the UCR, the UCR is the Uniform Crime Report. The FBI’s UCR is the best known and most extensive cited source of crime statistics. The UCR has nearly 18,000 city, university, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies reporting data on crimes brought to their awareness. Data from the UCR are published in an annual volume called Crime In The United States. The FBI tallies the number of reported offenses for the most serious crimes, part 1 crimes. The UCR also collect data on the number and characteristics, such as age, gender, and race, of individuals who have been arrested for committing crimes. The program’s primary objective is to generate reliable information for use in law enforcement administration, operation, and management (Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics. Retrieved September 12, 2018, from https://www.bjs.gov/ucrdata/abouttheucr.cfm)
There are advantages and disadvantages to having the UCR measure crime. Some advantages are that there are over 18,000 different sources contributing information to the UCR, as well as collecting age, gender, and race characteristics to specify crimes committed. Some disadvantages are that victims don’t always report crimes. They could be scared of what might happen if they do report the crime or they might not care about what happened. Also, the different departments each have different definitions of crime. Some departments define crimes more loosely than others.
The second method of measuring crime is the NCVS, the National Crime Victimization Survey. Due to victims not reporting their experiences to the police, the UCR cannot measure all the annual criminal activity. Each year, data are obtained from 135,000 households, composed of nearly 225,000 people. The NCVS is asks victims about their encounters with criminals. The Bureau of Justice Statistics compiles the data from the NCVS. The NCVS collects information on nonfatal personal crimes (i.e., rape or sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault) and household property crimes (i.e., burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other theft) both reported and not reported to the police. For each victimization encounter, the NCVS collects information about the offender. Such as age, race, sex, and victim-offender relationship. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Home page. Retrieved September 12, 2018, from https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail;iid=245).
There are also advantages and disadvantages to having the NCVS measure crime. An advantage is that the NCVS is a survey that victims fill out so they have the choice to do it, which would increase how many people would actually submit them. A disadvantage of the NCVS is that there could be over reporting and under reporting. Also, there could be sampling errors and an inadequate question format. (Kerwin, 2018).
Finally, there are the self-report surveys. The self-report surveys ask people to describe past and current criminal activities. The surveys are usually conducted in groups, anonymously and unsigned. Most surveys are focused on juvenile delinquency and youth crime. The surveys also measure crimes that are not reported and do not show up in victim surveys. These are also known as the “dark figures of crime.” (Kerwin, 2018)
There are advantages and disadvantages to the self-report surveys as well. An advantage is that the person who committed the crime is telling what happened. Another advantage is that some people who have committed crimes actually do fill out the surveys. A disadvantage is that the people may not answer the questions truthfully or may not answer the questions fully. Also, some people don’t fill out the surveys, or even know that there are surveys to fill out.
The three most significant methods to measure the nature and extent of crime are the UCR, NCVS, and the self-report surveys. There are always advantages and disadvantages to these methods. Crime is always changing and evolving which means means the methods are changing and evolving as well.

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