Like many other developed countries, in Canada also, the crime is measured with the help of a combination of the information provided by the police and reported by the victim. Although, individually each of these sources has its own strengths and limitations but together they are able to provide a much robust measure of crime rate and trends in Canada (Walker, 1999).
There are a wide range of measurements used by the criminologists in order to examine statistics related with crime. In case of each of these tools, the respective measurements are derived from different aggregations of the data related with crime. The result is that in several cases, the crime rate in Canada is depicted in a way that is quite opposite to the objective reality. It also needs to be noted in this regard that the crime trends are not static entity and therefore they undergo considerable changes as a result of several social, political and economic factors (Boyd, 2015).
There are certain methods that are generally used by the criminologists in order to measure the rate of crime and the trends related with crime. These main methods are the Uniform Crime Report, Crime Severity Investigation and General Social Survey. For example the Uniform Crime Report presents the uniform crime reporting statistics. In case of UCR, all aggregated data is collected. Moreover, UCR is incidence based. However there is a problem related with the UCR. According to this issue, UCR is not capable of accounting for the dark figures of crime. The dark figures of crime are related with the variations that are present between the number of crimes that have taken place and the crimes that have been reported to the authorities. In this way, this figure shows the large number of crimes that have not been reported (Fox, ed. 1981). On the other hand, the General Social Survey is conducted over the telephone. In this survey, questions related with crime or victimization is asked from the individuals that have not been reported in the Uniform Crime reports. These crimes include the cases of assault, robbery and sexual assault. In case of the Criminal Severity Index, each crime is measured according to its severity. At the same time, the severity of a crime is also determined on the basis of the sentence pronounced in the case (Kempf, 1990).
Canada is facing the problem of high rate of crime. Although, generally the crime rate is going down but there are certain areas in which this rate is increasing. For example, recent trends revealed that there is an increase in violent crimes. On the other hand, the crimes like vehicle theft are witnessing a downward trend, perhaps due to the mandatory measures introduced by the government. In the same way, the recent trends revealed that there has been a decrease in the number of homicides but at the same time, there has been an increase in the cases of assault. Some factors can be cited in support of the decreasing rate of these crimes. For example, significant improvements have been made in emergency medical care. At the same time, the young people have become more risk tolerant. Similarly, as a result of the Internet, young people stay at home more often instead of going out. On the other hand, the rising popularity of Internet has also resulted in the crimes that take place on the Internet itself (Jones, 2006).
It is widely knowledge that the same results are not provided by different types of measurement tools when it comes to the crime rates and trends. The reason is that all these tools measure different things. For example, the Uniform Crime Report is based on the statistics of crime that are available with the police. Therefore the crime rate and trends depicted by the UCR also reflect the attitude and the opinions of the police officers and the policies and procedures adopted by them. For example, sometimes the police officers do not report significant instances of crime if they are capable of dealing with such instances effectively. On the other hand, this problem is effectively dealt with by victimization surveys as these surveys report the crimes in which the police is not involved. At this point, it needs to be noted that a large number of crimes are not reported to the police. In this way these surveys help in providing the vital information related with crime. But at the same time, there is also a problem associated with the service because in case of many crimes that have not been reported to the police, the people do not report these crimes during the survey conducted on the telephone (Maxfield, 1995).
On the basis of the above discussion, it can be said that the most efficient crime measurement tool which is also the most reliable should have the features of Uniform Crime Report and also that of the General Social Survey. At the same time it is very important that the measurements of crime should include the crimes that have been reported as well as the crimes that have not been reported to the police (Burgess and Akers, 1966). In this way, instead of having different measurements for the crime rate and friends, the focus should be on including everything in a single measurement. It also needs to be noted in this regard that the statistics reported by the police and the victimization data are complementary to each other and if these two sources are used jointly, they can provide a more comprehensive picture of the crime rate and trends in Canada. As a result of the differences that are present in the methodology used by these two types of surveys, it is difficult to make a direct comparison. But it can certainly be said that the ways in which crime is measured in Canada can be improved further. By improving the tools that are used for measuring crime in Canada, the understanding regarding the nature and the extent of crime will also improve (Sampson, Groves and Byron, 1989).
With the help of these improvements, and also by including Crime Severity Index to the present measurement tools, it is possible to have a more comprehensive picture regarding the nature and extent of crime in Canada.
Burgess, Robert and Akers, Ronald, 1966, "A Differential Association-Reinforcement Theory of Criminal Behavior" Social Problems, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 128–147
Fox, James A., ed. 1981, Methods In Quantitative Criminology. New York: Academic Press
Jones, Stephen, 2006, Criminology. New York: Oxford University Press, USA
Kempf, Kimberly, 1990, Measurement Issues in Criminology, New York: Springer
Maxfield, Michael G. 1995, Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology. Ed. Earl Babbie. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company
Neil Boyd, (2015) Understanding Crime in Canada: An Introduction to Criminology, Emond Montgomery Publications
Neuman, Lawrence W., and Bruce Wiegand, 2000, Criminal Justice Research Methods, Allyn and Bacon
Sampson; Robert J. & Groves, W. Byron, 1989, The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 94, No. 4. pp. 774–802
Walker, Jeffrey T. 1999, Statistics In Criminal Justice: Analysis and Interpretation. Maryland: Aspen Publishers, Inc.
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