The Use of Official Statistics

The Use of Official Statistics - The Use of Official...

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The Use of Official Statistics. While we have dealt, at various points in the course, with the sociological / methodological problems involved in using Official Statistics as indicators of crime and criminality (see the Notes on Official Statistics for further details), the New Left Realist position in relation to these secondary sources of data is somewhat different. The argument here is that such statistics may be a very useful source of data if they are interpreted and applied critically (usually - but not necessarily - in conjunction with self-report / victimisation studies ). While we have looked in some detail at ideas concerning the relative levels of reliability and validity of Official Statistics (and concluded that their validity may be questionable because of the types of definitions used, the way in which laws may be selectively applied and the "problem" of hidden deviance - in its various forms), the New Left Realist position is that, for all their undoubted faults , such statistics can tell us something about the nature of crime and criminality in the society in which they are produced. In this respect, victimisation studies (such as the British Crime Survey , for example) can be seen to compliment Official Statistics, rather than invalidate them, on the basis that such studies are held to actually confirm the basic trends that are discernible from crime statistics. Thus, for example, both victimisation and official statistical studies confirm basic trends such as the greater involvement of the young in criminal activity. In addition, most criminal activity involves working class males rather than, for example, middle class females.
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