Quantitative criminology

Crime and justice statistics across nations

Authored by: Jan van Dijk

Routledge Handbook of International Criminology

Print publication date:  April  2011
Online publication date:  May  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415779098
eBook ISBN: 9780203864708
Adobe ISBN: 9781135193850

10.4324/9780203864708.ch5

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Abstract

In the second half of the twentieth century criminologists became sensitized to the cultural and legal relativity of the concept of crime. Court and police statistics on crime came to be seen as social constructions, not necessarily reflecting an objective reality of crime. More specifically, criminologists became aware that police figures are heavily influenced by national legal definitions, recording practices of the police and the readiness of victims to report their experiences to the police. Considering the variation in these definitions and practices across countries, these insights were the kiss of death for comparative international criminology. Between 1970 and 2000 fewer studies comparing levels of crime of different countries were conducted than before (but see Barberet, 2009). For modern criminologists the epidemiological approach seemed to have run out of steam.

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