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date: 12 April 2024

dark figure of crime 

A Dictionary of Sociology

John Scott

The term ‘dark figure’ came to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, to describe the unknown mass of unreported and unrecorded offences, which in turn exposed the limitations of using official statistics to measure crime. The traditional method of gathering data is based on those crimes recorded by the police and the courts, a practice that dates back to the 19th century, as European governments sought to compile detailed information over many different aspects of their populations’ lives. In England and Wales, the statistical series compiled annually by the Home Office from data returned by criminal justice agencies has constituted the ‘official statistics’ since the 1850s. Despite occasional changes their format has remained remarkably consistent over most of this time.... ...

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