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Crime Index Bangladesh perspective

Emphasizing the need for statistics in the field of criminology Donald Taft (Criminology, 4th ed.) observed that quantification which includes counting, measuring, and collating the phenomena under study is the basic process in modern scientific approach to criminal science. Crime statistics involve compiling crime-record in order to relate them to time, place and circumstances. It also depicts the picture of distribution of crimes in different areas, regions, and locations (N. V. Paranjape, 2005). In our country, the most widely used source of data on crime studies is known as crime statistics gathered by law enforcing agencies,
especially by the police. These statistics are the compilations of crimes reported to the police and recorded by them for various purposes. But this statistics of crime does not represent the actual figure of crime because of many reasons such as legal inadequacy, politically, non-reporting by the aggrieved, and also for societal reasons. Adolphe Jacques Quetelet (1842) a French statistician, pointed out that most of the ratio of crime statistics to criminal behavior was unknown. That is, based on the number of known crimes; it was unknown as how many crimes occurred which were never reported. The importance of Quetelet’s statement was confirmed by W. B. Sanders in 1983. Though new methods for crime statistics, such as victimization surveys, self-report surveys, observational methods, etc. are now evolved by the advanced world, we are yet to use those methods.

In order to identify the nature as well as the statistics of crime, a crime index is inevitable. Crime index refers to an estimate of crimes committed. Donald R. Cressey (1967) suggests sociology of crime reporting as: “the kind and amount of statistics compiled on crime and delinquency are, in a very real sense, an index of social concern about crime and delinquency.” Unfortunately, no index or estimate of crimes is a reliable indicator of the actual amount of crime (Bhom and Haley, 2002). The indexes or estimates vary independently of the true size of crime. An index may be produced by collected data from different sources such as police, court, prison and public perception. Thorsten Sellin (1931) wrote a classic article entitled The Basis of a Crime Index in 1931. Thorsten sellin described how the value of a crime rate for index purposes decreases as the distance from crime itself in terms of procedure increases. That is, police-records measure incidence of criminal offences more reliably than arrest statistics, and court statistics are better than prison statistics. The implication is that many offences are “lost” between recording by police and prosecution (Richard Quinney, 1979). The main reason for variation of the estimation of index is that whatever data could be produced, some crimes remain under the dark figure (the number of crimes which are not officially reported to the police). People don’t report or uncover all the incidents of victimization they experience. Marshal B. Clinard (1963), in his book Sociology of Deviant Behavior, identified the following ten reasons why an offence would not be reported or recorded: (i) some offences are known only to the offender and are not likely to be reported, (ii) because they lack knowledge of criminal law, victims and witnesses may not report criminal violations, (iii) witnesses to an offence may not want to report the offence because of inconvenience, embarrassment, fear, or lack of interest in law enforcement, (iv) the victim or witness may be afraid of being implicated in the violation or in other violations if investigated, (v) the victim or witness may fear reprisal if the criminal offence is reported, (vi) friends and relatives may try to protect the offender and therefore will not report the offence, (vii) the victim may fear unfavorable publicity and embarrassment, (viii) social values and public opinion do not favor full enforcement of some criminal laws, (ix) some criminal offences are not readily visible to the general public or law-enforcing agencies, (x) law-enforcement agencies may wish to conceal some criminal offences. Harry Manuel Schulman (in The Measurement of Crime in The United States, 1966) noted that, even more importantly, many of the most frequent and dangerous crimes are not collected in the official sources of criminal statistics. These crimes occur in commerce and industry, management-labor relations, union management, income-tax reporting, and social security and public administration (Quinney, 1979). For instance, in India, the Narcotics Control Bureau constituted under the Ministry of Finance in 1985 deals with the offences relating to drug trafficking and narcotics.
The present study is based on the data collected from newspapers whether reported or non-reported and then adjusted to the police official data. This method of adjusting data is also supported by William B. Sanders (1983: p. 17). This crime index should be more valid in terms of the fact that it includes all the crimes whether known or unknown to the police. In Bangladesh, such a crime index would open a new horizon in the study of the statistics of crime incidents. The sequence of the publication of such index in every year will be tried to maintain. The periodical publication of such statistics and index is equally important so that the criminal law agencies may utilize it to the best of their advantage for combating crimes.