The Dark Figure Of Crime

Posted by M ws On Wednesday, July 11, 2012 1 comments
Last month, The Malaysian Insider carried a report here about how "PEMANDU has called on the media to play its role in fighting crime and help arrest the “doom and gloom” by reporting on solved cases and not sensationalising crime by repeatedly reporting the same news angle.

Putrajaya’s efficiency unit, tasked with helping the police reduce crime under its Government Transformation Programme (GTP), has staunchly defended statistics showing street crime has fallen by 40 per cent in the past two years despite a recent spate of high-profile kidnappings and assaults."

In an editorial HERE, The Malaysian Insider said:

Numbers don’t tell the stories that people pass on to each other, the violence and the fear among those who have been robbed in broad daylight or in the wee hours of the morning in what are supposedly safe areas.

In addition, there are several hundred thousand foreign security guards who protect Malaysian neighbourhoods, some which are now gated but still report incidents of crime.

It is an open secret that a fair number of Malaysians have lost trust in the police force and therefore don’t report crimes when they happen. Or often enough, are discouraged from reporting petty crime.

So instead of lecturing the media on what to do and what not to, Jala and his colleagues in PEMANDU should step off their pedestal and acknowledge that window dressing and cosmetic change have their limits.

Malaysians don’t feel safe, and it doesn’t matter if the mass media reports it or not. There is enough social media to put flesh to the bare bones that statistics do to explain the crime rate in the country.

So, are statistics ever reliable where crime is concerned? No.

We have to bear in mind the existence of the dark figure.

The Dark Figure of (or for) crime is a term employed by criminologists and sociologists to describe the amount of unreported or undiscovered crime, which calls into question the reliability of official crime statistics.

Instead of looking at statistics of reported crimes, our authorities should carry out victim studies, such as the research associated with the British Crime Survey (BCS) to provide an insight into the amount of unreported crime in order to provide a better perspective of crime in our country.

According to this site:

Not all the crimes that take place are reported to, or recorded by, the police. Given this, sociologists refer to the gap between the official level of crime and the amount of crime in the community as the dark figure of crime. For a crime to be recorded, at least three things must happen:
  • Somebody must be aware that a crime has taken place.
  • That crime must be reported.
  • The police or other agency must accept that a law has been broken.
It is now widely accepted by social researchers that official crime statistics have significant limitations. These include:

1. Some crimes are not reported to the police because:
  • The general public regards them as too trivial.
  • The victim finds the matter embarrassing.
  • Individuals are unaware that they are victims (e.g., fraud or confidence tricks).
  • Lack of confidence or trust in the police
  • A fear of reprisals or victimisation
  • The victim may take law into own hands—a form of rough justice.
  • Children may not understand issues.
  • Victim may not want to harm the offender (e.g., domestic violence and abuse).

2. Some crimes are much more likely to be reported and recorded than others:
  • Where insurance claims for cars or household goods are involved
  • Serious crimes are more likely to be reported than trivial offences.
  • Media campaigns or the reporting of high-profile cases can lead to "moral panics" and sensitize the general public to the existence of crime and thus reporting behaviour. This is known as "deviance amplification".
3. Police discretion can influence reporting and recording:
  • Different police forces employ different categories and paperwork.
  • There are campaigns that lead to crackdowns on certain crimes or offences, such as drunk driving at Christmas.
  • Some forces will pay less attention to certain types of offence, such as the decision by the Met to liberalize the policing of soft drugs in Brixton in 2002.
  • A shift from informal or community policing to stricter, military-style policing and zero tolerance campaigns, or vice versa, will influence crime rates.

4. Changes in legislation, technologies and police manpower can influence the crime figures:
  • Some existing offences may be decriminalised or downgraded (e.g., homosexuality, abortion, some drug offences).
  • New offences may be created (e.g., cyber crime, not wearing seat belts, driving whilst using a mobile phone).
  • The wider availability of telephones, alarm technologies, private security staff and closed-circuit cameras can make it easier to report offences and incidents.
  • The number of police officers per capita has doubled in the UK since 1861. Furthermore, the police now employ civilians to deal with routine back-office tasks that have freed up uniformed officers and other professionals for other tasks.
5. Social and economic changes can influence the volume of official crime recorded:
  • There are now more high-value consumer goods, such as domestic electronics or cars, to steal than in the past.
  • Wider coverage for insurance has increased the incentives to report crimes.
  • Changes in the age distribution of the population can influence the crime rate. Fewer young people can lead to a reduction in deviance and delinquency.
  • The decline in close-knit communities and greater population mobility can reduce informal social control and influence the crime rate.
  • Changing norms and values can influence the crime rate. For example, members of the public are now less tolerant of child abuse or domestic violence than in the past.
Sociologists and criminologists recognize these limitations of official crime statistics and have endeavoured to find alternative measures of criminality. These can broadly be divided into victimization and self report studies. For example, some crimes, such as tax evasion, do not have an obvious victim, and it is these that are least likely to be reported. However, attempts have been made to estimate the amount of crime which victims are aware of but which is not reported to the police or not recorded as a crime by them. (Source: HERE)

But why are crime rates spiralling? Absolute Truth Network offers very good reasons HERE.

According to another report:

 The mother of a Penang federal lawmaker was robbed at knifepoint in a pre-dawn home invasion in George Town this morning, The Star reported on its website today.

According to the newspaper, Fatimah Ahmad — the mother of Balik Pulau MP Yusmadi Yusoff — was awoken by an armed burglar demanding cash and valuables from her.

Today’s robbery joins a recent high-profile crime cases that has struck fear into the hearts of Malaysians, including a break-in at the home of former Malacca Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik in Kuala Lumpur; an ATM robbery in Carrefour, Wangsa Maju that saw about RM1.2 million in cash carted away; and the recent carjacking and kidnapping of a Singaporean family in Johor.

These were preceded by the kidnapping of a 12-year-old Dutch schoolboy in Mont Kiara, and a vicious robbery-and-assault on a schoolteacher that required the victim to be put into an induced coma due to the severity of her wounds.

Yesterday, three men attempted to break into the home of Research for Social Advancement (Refsa) researcher Ong Kian Ming in broad daylight. They left after threatening the scholar, who was home at the time.

The authorities have sought to play down citizens’ concerns over crime, saying crime rate statistics do not support the perception.

The government’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) also came out to blame the media for “sensationalising” crime. MORE HERE.

The authorities must take action to arrest this disturbing trend because our safety and even investor confidence is at stake!!!

So do we matter???

1 comments to The Dark Figure Of Crime

  1. says:

    CLY Are we safe? In the Klang Valley, we are living behind ugly barriers, manned by foreigners, legal or otherwise. We are paying protection fees, an equivalent to our annual assessment and quit rent combined. It causes utter inconvenience to all citizens, having to go a roundabout way to visit our friends and neighbours. A drive around the residential neighbourhoods in the evening would give you the idea of the utter lack of confidence in our security forces. We are also subsidising the government for their inefficiency.The number of guarded neigbourhoods is a direct measure of the level of security provided,with an inverse relationship.

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