Forum on Crime and Society

English
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Irregular
ISSN: 
2414-1011 (online)
http://dx.doi.org/10.18356/39f9ca51-en
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Forum on Crime and Society is a United Nations series issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, based in Vienna. It is published twice yearly in the six official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
Also available in Spanish, French
 
Forum on Crime and Society

Forum on Crime and Society

Special Issue - Improving Knowledge on Crime: Towards Better Data You do not have access to this content

English
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Author(s):
UNODC
06 Mar 2013
Pages:
172
ISBN:
9789210544634 (PDF)
http://dx.doi.org/10.18356/8dd9982d-en

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Proceedings of the meeting of the open-ended expert group on ways and means of improving crime data collection, research and analysis with a view to enhancing the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and other relevant international bodies, Vienna, 8-10 February 2006
Also available in Spanish, French
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  • Note from the editorial board
    Forum on Crime and Society is a United Nations sales publication issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, based in Vienna. It is published in the six official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
  • Preface
    Crime statistics are expected to provide the foundation for assessing crime trends, and researchers may expect such statistics to be internationally comparable. In practice, however, crime statistics are still far from meeting those expectations. As Marvin Wolfgang has stated, “to make international comparisons by merely counting the number of violations of a specific type and dividing by a population constant reflects an arbitrary arrogance of assumed similarity that pays no attention to cultural diversities”. Indeed, there is no doubt that crime rates vary enormously from country to country and that better knowledge of such variations would be extremely helpful in analysing social development phenomena. Gary Becker, winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, has observed that, while official crime statistics are often hard to interpret, poorer and more slowly developing countries generally have higher incidences of crime, often much higher. He continues by asking whether higher rates of crime also contribute to poverty and weaker growth and concludes that the answer is yes.
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    • International crime data collection: Priorities for the United Nations
      The challenge of collecting crime statistics that can be used in cross-national comparisons has faced the international community for over 150 years. While some form of administrative police statistics are generated in almost every country, criminologists and statisticians have long recognized the limitations such statistics as proxies for the measurement of crime. Different legal systems, capacities and methods of recording crime further complicate the cross-national comparison of figures. The author of the present article examines ways forward for international crime data collection, including innovative solutions such as crime victim surveys, and summarizes the proposals made at the meeting of the open-ended expert group on ways and means of improving crime data collection research and analysis with a view to enhancing the work of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and other relevant entities, held in Vienna from 8 to 10 February 2006. Information can be a valuable driver of change. It shines a light on any society. It can foster awareness and understanding of social injustices and it can provide evidence for people both within and outside government to argue for, to decide on and to implement successful reforms. Information is the lifeblood of transparent, informed and open societies – fundamental aspects of democratic and wellmanaged States [1].
    • Measuring organized crime: An international perspective
      The present article, the first of a series of three articles by the same author that appear in the present issue, contains a review of current approaches to the measurement of organized crime with a focus on key global and national studies. The author introduces the principles behind the measurement of organized crime from an international perspective. International comparisons of the risk of organized crime can assist policymakers in combating that phenomenon.
    • A methodology for measuring the probability that a given organized crime event will occur
      The present article is the second in a series of three articles by the same author in this issue of Forum on Crime and Society. A methodology for measuring the probability of a given organized crime event occurring is presented in this article. The probability that organized crime will occur is one of two elements used to assess the overall risk that damage will be caused by organized crime. (The other element is the harm or cost of organized crime.)
    • A methodology for measuring the harm caused by organized crime
      The present article is the third in a series of three articles by the same author in this issue of Forum on Crime and Society. This article contains a discussion on a methodology for calculating the harm caused by organized crime, harm being the second proposed element for assessing “risk” (the first element being the probability of organized crime occurring). In order to allow the highest degree of comparability at the international level, the proposed methodology makes use of standard data that should be easily available to policymakers. The mechanism also aims to be as simple as possible, while maintaining the capacity to deal with future developments in the fight against organized crime. A brief review of the relevant literature is provided. The meaning of the concept of harm and its implications for organized crime are explained. An original method for measuring harm is proposed.
    • An enterprise modelling approach to assessing networks for trafficking in persons
      Developing a rational and transparent method to estimate the extent of trafficking in persons is fundamental to understanding the scope of the problem, changes in its occurrence and its appropriate place on the legal and policy agenda. In the present article, the problems of existing estimates of trafficking in persons are examined and reasons for the disjunction between those estimates and known cases are reviewed. Three methods for understanding and measuring trafficking in persons are assessed. The first extrapolates the risk of trafficking in persons from other known risks, the second uses specific known cases to estimate the full extent of trafficking, and the third uses a network enterprise model of human trafficking as an illicit enterprise that reacts to known and measurable pressures. The network enterprise model approach focuses on understanding the criminal networks that organize to exploit victims, rather than on solely predicting victim counts. Examples of each of the methods are presented in terms of their strengths and limitations, and a combined approach is proposed to produce the most accurate picture of trafficking in persons. It is shown that a good estimation model can be used to document the risk and extent of trafficking in persons as an illicit enterprise, trends in its occurrence and the effectiveness of measures designed to reduce its incidence.
    • Monitoring the crime situation: A developing country perspective
      The systematic collection of data on crime and justice can pose a serious challenge for developing countries. Many such countries lack regular national mechanisms for the collection, analysis, publication and utilization of crime data. When funding choices are to be made, there may be a perceived stark choice between allocating valuable resources to data collection and putting police officers on patrol in the streets. In the context of frequent low rates of response by developing countries to international data collection initiatives such as the United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, the present article draws on the experience of practitioners to suggest ways to establish effective crime data collection systems in developing countries. The importance of capacity-building, computerization and the technical support of the relevant international actors are highlighted.
    • The curent data collection exercise: An assessment
      International data collection initiatives in the area of crime and criminal justice include the United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems and regional initiatives such as the European Sourcebook of Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics. While such cross-national data collection efforts offer a unique insight into reported crime at the international and regional levels, they suffer from considerable challenges, including the need to maintain response levels, to ensure full questionnaire completion and to control for differences in national interpretation. This article contains suggestions from a number of experts in crime statistics on how to improve current cross-national data collection exercises. Issues of questionnaire design, survey periodicity, timeliness of data, quality control and the needs of data users are addressed.
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    • Police data
      Several institutions collect national police statistics. The numbers reported to such institutions may not be consistent over time and vary in terms of when the numbers are reported.
    • Collecting statistics on prisons: Strengths and weaknesses of the United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems
      The section of the United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems on prisons enjoys a relatively high rate of response, with an average of 47 per cent of variables completed for 2003 and 2004. However, the results of the Survey are far from being satisfactory in terms of quantity and quality. The Survey represents a unique data collection exercise through which relevant information could be collected from all Member States. It reaches the main agencies and sources of data in the criminal justice systems of Member States and, for countries providing complete responses, it allows for an analysis of the rate of attrition in the administration of justice.
    • Crime victim surveys: Political relevance and methodological issues
      Crime victim surveys are of enormous political relevance. Today, such surveys are being used, both at the national and international levels, largely due to the general increasing tendency to use research results in politics.
    • World Health Organization: Comments on general methodological issues and victim surveys
      The World Health Organization (WHO) is interested in crime data collection for the following three reasons
    • The United Nations Human Settlements Programme and its interest in collecting crime data
      The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is the United Nations agency in charge of coordinating the implementation of the Habitat Agenda ([1], Chap. I, resolution 1, annex II) and of monitoring target 11 of the Millennium Development Goals, which is to have achieved, by 2020, a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers ([2], annex). In carrying out these tasks, UN-Habitat uses data for monitoring trends and conditions in human settlements in general and in slums in particular. In that regard, data on crime and violence in cities are collected and analysed. These activities are coordinated by the Global Urban Observatory and by a network of local urban observatories.
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