Chapter 2 reviews the way crime is measured as well as issues concerning crime victims.

Topic: Measuring Crime

  • Crime is measured in four major ways: the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), victimization surveys, and self-report studies.
  • The UCR, the largest, most comprehensive, and oldest method used to represent the incidence and seriousness of crime, continues to be used to allocate resources, deploy police officers, and report crime levels.
  • The two types of error in the UCR are unintentional and intentional.
  • The NIBRS is constructed to gather data on each criminal offense, even if several are committed at one time.
  • More white-collar and corporate offenses go unnoticed and unrecorded than street offenses. Measuring white-collar and corporate crime remains a difficult task in both the UCR and NIBRS.
  • Victimization surveys ask victims about their experiences, are not as comprehensive as the UCR, and only provide a snapshot of the actual incidences of crime.
  • Self-report studies ask offenders to identify the types of offenses they have committed over the past six months or year.
  • Self-report studies and victimization surveys miss or obscure corporate crime, organized crime, drug sales, prostitution, and gambling.
  • Crime rates are calculated so that crime levels can be compared across jurisdictions.

Topic: Victims of Crime

  • According to the Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act, a victim is “a person that has suffered direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary [financial] harm as a result of the commission of a crime.”
  • The victim typologies of Mendelsohn and von Hentig are concerned primarily with the situational and personal characteristics of victims and the relationships of victims and offenders.
  • According to the concept of victim precipitation, many victims play a role in their victimization. Most definitions of victim precipitation assert that the victim acted first during the course of the offense and that the victim instigated the commission of the offense.
  • Violent crime may be the type of crime that most people fear and what most people consider when thinking about crime. Violent offenses involve the injury or death of victims, and the number of indirect victims or co-victims can be quite large.
  • Hate crime victims suffer the same problems as victims of offenses that are not hate crimes, but they carry the additional burden of knowing that they were targeted for the color of their skin, religion, nationality, gender identification, or sexual orientation.
  • Financial crime encompasses many different offenses. There is no profile for a financial offender, and there is no typical victim.
  • The elderly and children are particularly vulnerable classes of victims because they usually have little or no control over their caregivers and may not understand the nature of their victimization.
  • Until recently, crime victims were a nearly forgotten part of the criminal justice process. This has changed with the introduction of victim-impact statements and regulations requiring that victims and/or their families be notified of the offender’s activities.