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Problems in defining and measuring crime

Today we will be taking a look at the difference between criminal offenses and deviance, the way of measuring criminal offenses and deviance and the issues involved.

Defining criminal offenses is complex, determined by social, political and financial factors. Crime can be an act punishable by law. If somebody breaks regulations, whether it's a significant or minor offense, s/he will be punished. Some argues that no matter how immoral, reprehensible, harmful or dangerous an take action is, it isn't a offense unless it is made such by the government bodies of their state, the legislature. Some sociologists claim that only those are thieves who've been adjudicated as such by the courts, no act can be viewed as legal before and unless a courtroom has meted out some charges. Not all of those who break unlawful laws are found and convicted and many serves that might be considered legal are rarely prosecuted. The varieties of punishment are mixed, depending of seriousness of criminal offenses, for example, imprisonment etc.

Deviance is a kind of behaviour that's not accepted by the majority of the society. It really is behaviour that differs from the "norm" and terms weird, evil, ill, immoral tend to be connected with this form of behaviour. This could be something as trivial as wearing the incorrect kind of clothes to a party or as major as a murder. Many deviant functions that aren't accepted by culture are not always criminal acts. Certain kind of behavior may be accepted by one population, but devalued and discredited by another. For instance, drinking alcohol in British contemporary society is considered satisfactory, even if it has negative impact on our contemporary society. However, there are extensive cultures (especially those affected by religious beliefs) that disapprove of the behaviour. In some countries like Libya, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Tunisia and Sudan, the consumption of alcohol consumption is forbidden. There are a few exceptions where alcohol can be available to foreign travellers but only using areas.

Criminal and deviant behavior changes from location to place and time to time. Strong public opinion and changing moral worth have a huge effect on these interpretations and it becomes difficult to state what functions are deviant/unlawful and what can be considered normal. For example, abortion used to be against the law in the united kingdom, however in 1967 it become legal up to 24 weeks without time period limit when there's a risk to the woman's life. However, there are still anti-abortion teams in UK that assume that abortion is wrong, but because majority of society acknowledge this outcome it is not seen as criminal act anymore. You may still find many countries that place value on individual life and abortion is illegitimate there, for example in North Ireland, Brazil, Malta, the Philippines, Egypt, Nigeria and so many more.

It is very difficult to get a collection between criminal offenses and deviance. Each goes hand in hand. Any crime that is committed is because someone being deviant. A great deal of deviant behavior is not punishable for legal reasons, but will come to the interest of an community which implements various informal adjustments, such as isolating those who deviate from the 'norm' - turned down by family, friends, colleagues, entire community.

Who has the power and to say what's normal and what is deviant behaviour? Cultures, traditions, religious beliefs, morals and beliefs, greatly influence culture in what we see as appropriate/unacceptable behaviour. People are given birth to into different societies with different ethnicities, principles and morals. Folks are affected by these from labor and birth and continue steadily to learn and change new prices and morals. If people migrate and be members of any different society, they may have to learn new beliefs and morals. If an individual undertakes a religious alteration, their morals and prices changes to meet their chosen religion's behavioural code.

Crime and deviance have always played a big part in our society. Crime reports are an important way to obtain information, which offer an insight in to the amount and type of crime determined within particular areas (both countrywide and local). In England, crimes recorded by the authorities have been printed since 1876. However, formal crime reports (as recorded by the police) only has information regarding the crimes that are reported and saved by the police, courts and prisons. Recently the police experienced a degree of control over which offences were recorded but since 2002 all criminal offense must be recorded. Those crimes which go unreported are known as a "dark number" of crime. Hidden, unnoticed and ignored offences participate in this category and all these are excluded from standard statistics. Crimes developing within a family group or relating children are the most typical types of unreported offences. People may not report criminal offenses for different reasons, for example, lack of trust in the police or choosing to deal with the situation in my opinion. It's been suggested that no more than fifteen percent of criminal offense is reported to the police. For this reason it is clear that figures do not measure and provide an obvious number of total offense, therefore they are not reliable. You will discover other problems in contrasting statistics over time including: changing legislation; changing interpretation of regulations by the judiciary; and the changing morals and better sensitivity of everyone.

To conclude, criminal offenses identifies behaviours that are a violation of the legal law, but the law is under constantly under review. Changes in law enforcement officials procedures, priorities, politics, rules and what our description of what constitutes a criminal offense, have a dramatic impact on information. Although the precision of collected crime statistics are often questioned, they still provide us with understanding, keeping the public, the advertising and other communities informed about the condition of criminal offense. Even if indeed they do not stand for our connection with crime, they allow us to research the ever changing aspect of criminal offense and deviance.


  • M. Haralambos & M. Holborn (2008) Sociology Themes or templates and Perspectives
  • J. Muncie and E. McLaughlin (2001) The Problem of Crime
  • David W. Jones (2008) Understanding Lawbreaker Behaviour.
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