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Importance of Using Official Crime Data - Essay Example

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The author of the paper "Importance of Using Official Crime Data" will begin with the statement that statistics are paramount in analyzing the rates of crimes across the globe. Researchers often ask questions to gauge the perceptions of the public regarding the safety provided by the police…
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Extract of sample "Importance of Using Official Crime Data"

Download file to see previous pages One advantage of using official data when doing research about crimes is that it is collected in a standardized method. Such that, the method used to gather data in New York is the same in Los Angeles. Normalized data is also reproducible, and this is important when validating the results (Miller, 2003). Secondly, official data is reliable and credible an important observation when presenting data. In some instances, for example, regarding the perception of the police by the public, data may be distorted to fit into the agenda of the interviewer. Furthermore, some inconsistency exists about how crimes are defined across the United States. For example, there is no standardized way of defining what an excessive force applied by the police is. In addition, data about victims of extrajudicial crimes may be fearful of expressing their views about the police because of possible retribution (Baumer & Adams, 2006). Therefore, the data may not reflect the reality on the ground. The changes that could be effected from the standpoint of these articles include, standardizing crime reporting methods. The idea is to cut on discrepancies and inconsistencies observed in data collection. Furthermore, questionnaires should be prepared in the open-ended format that gives freedom of the interviewee to express their opinions. The advantages of the self-reporting as compared with official crime data are as follows. First, the researcher can analyze data qualitatively and quantitatively, thereby measuring not just the number of crimes but also their nature. Another advantage offered by this method is the validity of the data that is collected (Miller, 2003). Mostly, the researcher is directly gathering opinions from the interviewees instead of relying on secondary data sources. The weakness of this method is that it is often biased which is undesirable. In addition, the method has set response for the interviewee.  Furthermore, the question may be misunderstood which reduces the reliability of the collected data. Official crime data as compared to the self-report has many advantages. For example, the data is often contemporary. In addition, the researcher does not have to incur the cost of fieldwork meant to gather the views of the public. Instead, the researcher simply analysis the available data. Notably, official data has few ethical issues as the researcher does not make direct contact with the criminal. Another significant strength of the official crime data is that the data is verifiable. The weaknesses of this method are mentioned is that it does not present the accurate picture of the situation on the ground (Miller, 2003). In addition, the data cannot be relied upon to infer the human stories underpinning the crimes. In other words, the data is superficial. An important observation is that rules used by the police to count crimes changes over time. The application of the administrative practices by the police results in statistics that only give a partial picture of the crimes. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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