The true amount of crime committed

The BCS as a victim survey is not particularly useful in uncovering dark figure crimes concerning individuals under 16. Therefore incident such as child abuse and criminal activities, which are usually associated with young offenders, for example vandalism will not be recorded by the BCS. This highlights that although the BCS may be useful in uncovering certain aspects of dark figure crimes, it does not however deal with victims of crime who are under 16 therefore the reliability and usefulness of the BCS can not possibly be as accurate as it can be.

However, there are many smaller scale victim surveys that do include those under 16, nonetheless, they are not as large scale as the BCS consequently can not be a representation of the dark figure crimes in society as a whole, still they can be very useful in local communities in uncovering the dark figure crimes7 (Crawford 1984) Another factor that may hinder the usefulness of victim surveys is to what extent do respondents fabricate victimization.

Levine (1976 P 185) argues that 'respondents are responsible and trustworthy, having nothing to gain by making things up'. However, it is quite plausible that some respondents, not wanting to disappoint the interviewer, may recall incidents, which happened to friends or neighbours rather than to themselves personally. For instance, with the 'crime problem ' so high on the medias agenda and therefore embedded in the mind of the public, respondents may also feel that something should be done' and fabricate incidents in the hope that it will somehow help.

This consequently may result in over representation of certain crime figures victim surveys obtain. As a result, showing how the data may not be useful in uncovering dark figure crimes as the data on dark figure crimes may be flawed if it was obtain by respondents giving fabricated information. In conclusion, victimization studies probably underestimate the true amount of crime committed. They can only record certain types of crime those with an obvious victim.

They therefore do not include drugs offences, prostitution, tax corporate: although maybe more likely to report these in the confidentiality of such surveys than they are to go to the police, many will still be too embarrassed to admit to them, especially as there may seem to be no practical point in doing so. Victimization surveys also rely on victims' memories and their ability to define an act as a crime. Minor criminal acts may be forgotten, not regarded as serious enough to record, or not seen as crime. As a result, victim surveys may have out grown what they originally set out to do.


Coleman. C and Moynihan. J, 1996 Understanding crime data: haunted by the dark figure Buckingham: Open University Press,

Dowds. L, Budd. T, 2000 Victim and witness intimidation: findings from the British Crime Survey London: Home Office,

Jones, B MacLean and J Young 1986 The Islington crime survey: crime, victimization and policing in inner city London, Gower 

Kershaw. C, 2000 The 2000 British crime survey: England and Wales London: Home Office, Research, Development and Statistical Directorate

Povey. D, 1999 Recorded crime statistics: England and Wales, Prime London: Home Office, Research, Development and Statistics Directorate