looking for

Perspectives of crime index and crime statistics of Bangladesh

Crime statistics are indices of intensity of crimes recorded annually in a particular country, region, or place. It reflects upon the ascending or descending trends in crime and also gives information as to how new forms of crime are emerging and the old ones are disappearing or acquiring new dimensions. Therefore, the role of crime statistics in analyzing causation of crime and devising measures to combat criminality needs to be over-emphasized (Paranjape, 2005).
The meaning and use of statistics on crime depends greatly on prior ideological assumptions of those who are using that. We can distinguish at least three approaches to the meaning and use of such statistics: the conservative, the liberal, and the critical (Taylor, Walton, and Young, 1974).

The conservative’s approach to criminal statistics goes from classical assumptions about human behavior: statistics on crime reflect willful and willing conscious human choices to violate the social contract, the theory that government must depend on the consent of the governed. Crime is freely chosen behavior, a victory of passion over reason. Criminal statistics, therefore, are thought of as actual measures of offence against a reified social contract, the ideal given concrete existence. Politically, such a use of statistics on crime boils down to an expectation that criminal behavior is all but randomly distributed through the social structure and that all equally need to be controlled. But the lower classes have more need for external control, for the crime concentrated in this segment of society, reflects a weaker commitment to the social contract.

The liberal in approaching criminal statistics considers the social and psychological bases of behavior. That is, the liberal conception has all behavior determined extensively by a complex of social and psychological forces beyond the individual’s control and sometimes even recognition. This worldview embraces positivist, not classical assumptions about human nature and behavior, and liberal criminology must therefore know what empirical research can reveal to us by way of statistical measures about the causes of criminal behavior. What causal factors should be investigated? This approach to the meaning and use of criminal statistics sees them as indicators of the variables that determined people to commit crime.

Finally, a critical criminology would employ statistics on crime in a radically different manner. Critical theorists argue that, for all the criticisms that had been labeled at statistics, they “can fruitfully be used as evidence of the underlying trends occurring in the wider social structure” (Ibid, 1970). Among other things criminal statistics can be read and used as evidence of efforts by the capitalist ruling class to apprehend and prosecute members of the working class who threaten the established order. Criminal statistics also indicate how tightly the society must control and punish the behavior that cannot be solved without making basic changes in the social and economic structure. Ultimately, statistics on crime must be understood in their political context. (Quinney, 1979).

However, when criminal statistics are used in assessing the “true” incidence of criminality, criticism about the methods of collecting criminal statistics may indeed be valid. In the words of Sutherland and Cressey (Criminology, 1974):

“the statistics about crime and delinquency are probably the most unreliable and most difficult of all social statistics. It is impossible to determine with accuracy the amount of crime in any given jurisdiction at any particular time. Some behavior is labeled delinquency or crime by one observer but not by another. Obviously a large proportion of all violations go undetected. Other crimes are detected but not reported, and still others are reported but not officially recorded. Consequently any record of crimes, such as crimes known to the police, arrests, convictions, or commitments to prison, can at most be considered an ‘index’ of the crimes committee. But ‘indexes’ of crime do not maintain a constant ratio with the true rate, whatever it may be. We measure the extent of crime with elastic rulers whose units of measurement are not defined.”